When a large home office is not needed, a bureau, either in the bedroom, the study or the living room, can provide enough space to store important paperwork and carry out occasional, administrative duties.

This does not mean that bureaus need to be minimal affairs. ‘617 Johnsohn Wax 1’, designed by the visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936 and today still manufactured by Cassina, offers ample storage space, a shelf and an integral paper basket.

Many of the designs in this category emulate classical writing desks, which now, thanks to the proliferation of laptops, have once again become practical pieces of domestic furniture. George Nelson’s 1958 ‘Home Desk’ for Vitra is mid-century classic that modernises the type using bright colours, steel legs and walnut veneer. Some variations include Gesa Hansen’s 2010 ‘Desk’, whose colours are just as bright, but is constructed wholly from wood, or a more angular, steel-frame reinterpretation seen in ‘MagicDesk’ by André Schelbach for Yomei.

A more traditional take on the bureau is seen in ‘Amsterdam’ by Riva 1920 and ‘Bureau’ by ARKAIA. Both combine precision, traditional craftsmanship with plenty of storage space, by the means of drawers and pigeonholes. Gjalt Pilat’s ‘Kees’ takes a more daring approach; it combines two shelves of different depth and mounts them on a wall, creating a minimalist working/storage area wherever it is needed.

The last popular solution is a reinterpretation of the traditional secretary desk, where a chest of drawers or a cupboard is opened up to reveal a working space inside. Andreas Janson’s ‘Workstation’, Stephan Veit’s ‘GAP Homeoffice’ for creation, as well as ‘mf-system | Secretary’ by Mathias Frey demonstrate the viability of this approach in the field of contemporary bureau design.

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