From the Desk of… A Continuous Lean

The From the Desk of series is one of the oldest and longest running posts on ACL. I hear from a lot of people that say it is their favorite thing on the site, something I have to say that I tend to agree with. Honestly though, it is harder to pull off than I ever could have imagined. It’s difficult to find interesting people that also have intriguing work areas – and get them to open said desks to the world and the ravenous commenters here. So it is something maybe less explored than it should be.

I actually have been thinking about featuring my own desk for about the past year – considering if maybe people will like it, or at the very least people will detest it and a comment flame war will ensue – but I never really felt it was totally right, not yet ready for public consumption. Recently though, with the addition of a proper desk chair (a new Knoll Generation chair, which was sent gratis from the Pennsylvania-based design company) I realized that I’m as ready now as I will ever be.

The contents of my desk are a combination of vintage finds and modern everyday technology. The desk itself was chosen two apartments ago (from Pottery Barn, gasp) because of its modular set up (it can be changed into a set of file cabinets easily) in case I move into a space that won’t accommodate it as is. That said, it’s about time to move on a find a new desk, I just haven’t been able to find the right one. Until then, I’m pretty comfortable with what I have and think it works well in my space. You be the judge. The specific contents of my desk are below.

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Comments on “From the Desk of… A Continuous Lean

    Grant on June 21, 2011 12:15 PM:

    Quick question. What’s the name of that screensaver?

    WPA on June 21, 2011 12:19 PM:

    Nice setup. Very clean. My desk at home and at work are both orchastrated disasters.

    I think Wallpaper Magazine used to run what I believe is a fictional “Desk of” series on the last page. If you can’t find people to open up their work spaces, you could always make it up.


    Michael Williams on June 21, 2011 12:21 PM:

    Hey Grant — I linked it so you could get it.

    Michael Sippey on June 21, 2011 12:26 PM:

    Do you all have any more of the tweed 11″ Air cases, or are they all sold out? Would love to purchase one.

    2buttonswag on June 21, 2011 12:29 PM:

    My desk just became incredibly normal, and these pictures reminded how dirty it is as well. That chair looks like it may be the most comfortable chair on earth.

    Michael Williams on June 21, 2011 12:31 PM:

    Tweed 11″ MBA cases have yet to go on sale. That’s the first sample. Factory guy is avoiding my calls. Could be weeks! ACL bags are small potatoes I guess!

    Michael Sippey on June 21, 2011 1:01 PM:

    Ah! Will look for those small potatoes when they launch on the site. Thanks!

    Laurent M on June 21, 2011 1:40 PM:

    Nice set-up Mister Williams

    Paul on June 21, 2011 2:48 PM:

    I’m very impressed with you neat and clean work space. It says lots of good things about you. (neat, clean environment – neat, clean mind and soul, etc.)

    I, on the other hand have the most horrendous work space – at the office especially. My wife insists on tidying up the home office – where upon I proclaim that I cannot find anything.

    I enjoy your posts.

    L.A.S on June 21, 2011 2:49 PM:

    Ahh, you did kinda have a “From The Desk Of” already when UO toured ACL HQ. Or is that what we call Greene St? Either way…your shit is still clean as a whistle. Well done, homie.

    Jacob Hinmon on June 21, 2011 2:53 PM:

    Love the Schoolhouse Electric lamp. And I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who has too many notepads lying around.

    Junk and Howe on June 21, 2011 3:12 PM:

    I just featured my own new workspace last week, and understand the caution to open it up to the public. I like that almost everything on the desk is functional. Some people tend to use their desk as a bookshelf of decorative or personal items. A couple is fine. And it’s orderly and clean, just as any area with tools should be, whether the kitchen, garage or office. Looks great…

    Brother Joe on June 21, 2011 3:16 PM:

    Dude. This is sad. Pull your head out of your own clichéd ass hole and get a life. I mean really. A Pottery Barn desk!? How could you!!!

    cole scego on June 21, 2011 3:19 PM:

    dazor lamps are great, exceptional movement in various directions, they still make that style along with various other products, powder coated in the US, though unfortunately most of the castings and sheet metal parts are now made in china and shipped over raw for coating and assembly. on a more inspiring note, i’ve been seeing lots of metal fab work heading back home recently.

    Michael Williams on June 21, 2011 3:25 PM:

    I just want to point out that Brother Joe’s IP address comes up as American Eagle Outfitters.

    Stu Hodgkiss on June 21, 2011 3:27 PM:

    I have to say I am incredibly jealous of your incredible office space, and your equipment list reads like a wish list :)

    All I could suggest to polish off your incredible space is a shoe for your display:

    All the best,


    Peter on June 21, 2011 3:27 PM:

    Very tidy and impressive cord management! My only suggestion would be something to protect your floor from the chair wheels. Maybe a couple of flor tiles.

    Michael Williams on June 21, 2011 3:36 PM:

    Peter I think you are right about the floor (even though the floors are bamboo and super soft / totally f’d up from my Springer Spaniel), but I was thinking about getting four Flor ( squares for under the chair. on June 21, 2011 4:14 PM:

    You have to love the comments on this site. Where else can you read someone getting props for “impressive cord management” and get dissed for a PB desk (I assume Brother Joe was kidding). Thank goodness for the internet.

    Billy on June 21, 2011 4:43 PM:

    Good looking work space, but holy smokes it’s clean! Did you give it a big tidying before the shoot or is it always so orderly? Can’t help but think it would be more interesting to see it under fire. Curious what you paid for the 48 star…

    Michael Williams on June 21, 2011 4:51 PM:

    It is cleaner than normal, but It is always close to being that clean. My desk at my office (that is my apartment pictured) is a little more messy. But I can’t write if there is a mess around.

    Paid $10 for the flag.

    Scott Lars on June 21, 2011 5:05 PM:

    Also a big fan of the screen saver–I’ve tried a few but never simple enough; this one looks to be perfect.

    Bradford on June 21, 2011 5:05 PM:

    So metrosexual! I love it!

    MOA on June 21, 2011 6:13 PM:

    Nice looking workspace Michael. The School House Electric is making me smile.

    Tim on June 21, 2011 6:33 PM:

    Those federal supply notebooks are so simple/awesome. Where did you get so many from? Your link just leads to your previous post. Great look though. I wish my desk looked as clean (and expensive)! But instead there are unfinished books everywhere.

    jiheison on June 21, 2011 6:49 PM:

    Theory: computers are killing the interesting physical workspace.

    Scott G on June 21, 2011 7:08 PM:

    I have loved this series since you first started it, and appreciate you ‘eating your own dog food’ and opening up your space as well. Outside of the purely voyeuristic value I like seeing how other people blend the functional and aesthetic in the space where they spend so much time. I hope you can find other interesting desk spaces to share.

    Adam on June 21, 2011 7:33 PM:

    Tim, there is a “link to buy” in the original post re: the Federal Supply notebooks.

    TMH on June 21, 2011 8:20 PM:

    F me. If only I could my desk half as Tidy…I do have the same screen
    saver. Love it.

    JRS on June 21, 2011 9:13 PM:

    Outstanding set up. I like the old + new – very comfortable.

    dintx on June 21, 2011 9:59 PM:

    very nice sir – i like the desk – nothing wrong with PotteryBarn – most of their big stuff seems to be fairly sturdy. Looks about 100X cleaner and organized than my workspace – shared w/ one wife, one 4 and one 6 year old. our desk is a 1950s “modern” that is crusted with many, many snacks consumed while watching YoGabba… the floor is dog stained carpet that came with the house and has become more mangy w/ the kids – i refuse to pull it up until they’re old enough to steam clean it themselves ONCE. the monitor has been recently scrubbed with a big gum eraser after the 4 yr old coverd the whole thing in pencil. ENJOY your calm clean workspace – it looks awesome and i’m Jealous!. DinTX

    Smith&Ratliff on June 21, 2011 11:35 PM:

    Have loved that desk lamp for some time Michael, been thinking of getting one for the bedroom.

    oneagainstnature on June 22, 2011 2:02 AM:

    I’ve used that screensaver going on three years now. I love it more than probably any other piece of computer code I’ve ever utilized.

    The Trad on June 22, 2011 4:28 PM:

    You ever have sex on that desk? How much was the desk? How much is your rent? What percentage of your take home pay goes to rent? Are you still out of town? Where do you keep the 5D? What’s your address? Is there a loading dock?

    benji on June 22, 2011 4:51 PM:

    Why’d you get a mac mini + cinema display instead of an iMac? Aesthetics?

    ARPedersen on June 22, 2011 5:30 PM:

    oh that screensaver. Best. Ever.

    JB on June 22, 2011 9:36 PM:

    I bought a dozen of the Federal supply notebooks. I love them too! Bought one of the larger variety as well. Not quite as useful for me.

    Theodore Ferringer on June 22, 2011 11:12 PM:

    Love the old school postcard of CLE, good sir.

    robbie on June 23, 2011 12:50 AM:

    I’d love to find a 48 star flag that big, or the short lived 46 star flag.

    Love the chair, but I guess I pictured you as more of a Herman Miller Aeron chair kind of guy.

    18milesperhour on June 23, 2011 1:19 AM:

    Trad, I love your writing anyway but this little quip nails it. Whenever I see these types of posts or “everyday carry” types of things I always imagine crooks doing window shopping. “Hmmm…three rolexes, four pocket knives (wtf?), a couple pistols (????) and $800 shoes…”

    2buttonswag on June 23, 2011 9:43 AM:

    I think I may go nuts if my area was so clean. For some reason, clutter makes me feel like I’m working harder…..or like I have a large number of unfinished ideas and projects. Instead of cleaning, I just loosen my tie and ruffle my hair. I find it much easier for me to adjust myself to how my workspace looks instead of cleaning it.

    Le Cercle on June 23, 2011 10:12 AM:

    Fantastique lieu de travail, propice à la concentration et l’isolement.
    Merci de partager.

    Tisha on June 23, 2011 5:17 PM:

    I love this desk! But what I’m intrigued by are the metal baskets on the floor. I don’t *think* they’re listed in your inventory?

    Anthony on June 23, 2011 7:11 PM:


    Where’d you get those metal bins you have by the window?


    Barry on June 23, 2011 7:44 PM:

    How do you like the chair? I went through the search recently, and tried many – though not the Generation. I have spinal issues, and although it wasn’t my aesthetic choice (I coveteth the Time/Life), for adjustability and comfort nothing beats the Aeron. Still.

    jettison on June 23, 2011 9:32 PM:

    Love the set up. Great flag. All around super cool. I really like the desk. I don’t think it matters where something came from so long as it works and looks good. Just looking at it you would never guess… in my opinion anyway. Thanks for the share. Very much appreciated.

    Keith on June 23, 2011 11:25 PM:

    Love the lamp but have wondered if it’s practical – is it too bright or hot? Do the lamps burn out quickly and hard to get?


    Ole Haubjerg Nielsen on June 24, 2011 3:11 AM:

    I’m sitting here looking at your workspace and wonder how your digital workspace looks. Any favorite applications, must haves, great wallpapers etc.
    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask but it would be fun to see/read about.

    Best regards

    2buttonswag on June 24, 2011 10:22 AM:

    I wish it were this easy for my blog. Pop a picture of my desk, and people start asking me questions about everything under the sun. I love the picture on your lamp, what kind of boxers do you prefer to wear?

    Michael Williams on June 24, 2011 10:41 AM:

    @keith — the Dazor lamp throws some pretty terrible light. I use it only very rarely. I really just like how it looks.

    Jennifer on June 30, 2011 9:51 AM:

    Totally jealous of the organization AND the screen saver.

    Casey on July 3, 2011 11:36 PM:

    Western Digital with a Mac?! It’s elementary, Watson–you should have gone for Glyph.

    Michael Williams on July 3, 2011 11:50 PM:

    Seems like overkill there Casey.

Comments are closed.