Previously: Part 1 - Accessories
Most desks ignore the cable chaos that many end-users suffer with—but a few designers have created desks that recognize the problem and try to help. These desks can be both functional and eye-catching.
Of course, there are always trade-offs to be made. A desk with built-in cable control will often have less flexibility to respond to changing uses than would a simpler desk combined with aftermarket products that can be readily removed or replaced. And the cable control features will probably add to the cost, making the purchase a bigger commitment for the end-user.
The OneLess Desk from Heckler Design is composed of two nesting surfaces made of 12-gauge powder coated steel—but the feet are made of polypropylene so they won't scratch the floor. It's a neat design for a small space, and it also provides cable control that's especially effective if the desk faces a wall or a window. Behind that grill on the top level is a rear-facing shelf with notches and cut-outs near its rear edge for wrapping longer cables. And if you place your power strip on the shelf, you can have just one cable going from the desk to the outlet.
Christofer Ödmark's desk also has a hidden space for cables and their power adapters. As his site explains: "The back of the table top features eight power sockets and enough space to gather all your cables. The electricity is supplied by a detachable power cord."
This raises another design issue: power management. As you look through these desks, you'll see that some include an integrated power strip, while others omit this feature. Having the power strip certainly helps control the cable clutter, but also raises issues of maintenance; what happens if the power strip has a failure?
The Bluelounge StudioDesk has an elongated slot that feeds into a hidden storage compartment.
The storage compartment can hold all the cable clutter, and just one cord leaves the desk to plug in elsewhere. The desk also comes in a larger size, which might hold something like an iMac—but then you'd have to lift up the iMac to open the storage compartment, which is not something I'd want to be doing. This design really does seem to be limited to laptop users.
Having a desktop storage compartment rather than the traditional desk drawer makes sense for cables; I wouldn't want cables to be in a compartment that's going to be pulled in and out—possibly to a position where they might not reach. But compartments on the desktop have the disadvantage of either limiting what else can be placed on the desk or making it a pain to get into that compartment.
The Landa desk from Alki, designed by Samuel Accoceberry, also uses an elongated slot and a hidden desktop compartment, but with a different placement for the compartment— one that would allow a desktop computer to be used. That bright red stripe is a strip of nylon bristles that the cables can go through.
David Hsu Design created the D117 Desk, which has a hidden pass-through for cables under the shelf. The rear of the desk has a "cable caching compartment" with a power strip.
The Herman Miller Airia desk, from Observatory Design Studio (previously Kaiju Studios) is no longer sold, but the design approach is still interesting. There's a trough in the back, with three removable covers, which provides storage for cables and peripherals.
The Betta 2 Desk from Caretta Workspace, designed by founder Larry Tracewell, has a large cable tray and a built-in cable strip. The company has obviously given a lot of thought to this, since that's a "12-outlet surge suppressing power strip (protection up to 1,824 joules), with plugs positioned to easily accept multiple power transformers." It also has a resettable circuit breaker. I've had my computer saved by a surge protector a couple times, so I'm glad to see such features.
Woodquail's Cable-Tidy Home Office Desk has a slot for cables and a sliding surface to allow an end-user to hide all the chargers, hard drives, etc. —and a power strip. There are two large holes in the bottom of the storage compartment to allow a power strip cable (or two) to pass through. This design, where the power strip is accommodated but not built-in, is a clever way to ensure a failed power strip is a problem that can be easily fixed.
The Gap Desk from Jennifer Newman is an example of minimal accommodation for cables, with just a plug hole and a groove for cables to go through—but this may be all some end-users want. This desk is made from all-welded aluminum with a powder coat finish.
The Cable Guy desk from Igland Design has a fanciful cut-out for cables to go through, and a zig-zag opening on one leg (and the table top) for routing a cable through.
And I want to also briefly mention a couple desks we've noted here on Core77 before. The MILK desk, designed by Søren Rose Studio and manufactured by Holmris, has various cable-management features: a cable drawer and cable exits. We mentioned back in 2007 that it's hard to find price information for this desk, and that's still true seven years later.
And Total Metal Resource, Inc (also known as TMTnyc) has its side-wired products (including the side-wired desk and side-wired workstation) that we wrote about in 2009. The company's YouTube video shows off many of its cable-control features, but doesn't call out the 8 grounded receptacles and the 15-amp circuit breaker overload protection. The glass top means the cords that are neatly controlled in the flip-down compartment under the desk are still visible, which not all end-users will like.
Previously: Part 1 - Accessories