Ornamentation Situation

Desk ornaments: what are they all about? Not that I have anything against ornamentation on the whole, but aren’t desks cluttered enough as it is? Do we really need to be adding random objects that take away valuable surface area from essentials, such as notepads, ergonomic wrist supports, mugs and little bowls of paper clips and USB sticks?

I genuinely want to understand this. My grandfather, a successful businessman, had an office at his home with a big mahogany desk, and I remember it being adorned with an array of wooden 3D puzzles. They were very beautiful objects, to be sure, but I never once saw him pick one of them up to twiddle while musing on a business decision. I never saw him challenge a visitor to solve one while he went and fetched a cup of tea, which would have made perfect sense. I never saw anyone engage with these things, ever.

That’s the thing with these types of objects – they just become part of the scenery, and everyone forgets they’re even there. It’s almost like they’re part of the office space fitout. Companies near Melbourne take that up a notch by actively incorporating purely decorative elements into the foundations of their interiors. So what’s the point? You’d think keeping clutter to an absolute minimum would be one of the first principles of effective office workspace design. Melbourne design aficionados, back me up here. There’s simply no point introducing things into these environments if they don’t serve any functional purpose.

Unless… well, maybe they’re there as a sort of psychology decoy against accumulating clutter. Hear me out. Maybe the idea is that, with some kind of decoration on the desk, we don’t feel a need to introduce more decorative items, because it’s been taken care of by the random bust, kinetic pecking bird sculpture, wood puzzle or nostalgic figurine assigned to fulfil that purpose. Therefore, we’re less tempted to bring in some random piece of junk to adorn our workspace.