How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and tv characters

How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and tv characters

According to Stanford University, 42 percent of the American workforce now works from home. With so many people working remotely, it’s time to ditch uninspiring workstations and adopt a more personalized office setup. The sheer number of office-decorating options can make it difficult to know where to begin. Fortunately, you don’t need to look further than your favorite TV shows and movies for inspiration.

We’ve selected five popular shows that prominently display desks and will break down the style and items used in each to create a cohesive workspace. When building your own desk setup, remember that personal comfort and design is more important than exact replicas. With a little creativity, you can stay within your budget and create a look that’s perfect for you and your needs.

Common furniture and items you need for your personal office

For most people, their office setup is structured around their desk and actual work surfaces. The next most important item is a chair (unless you use a standing desk). After that comes storage: shelves, filing cabinets, and desk hutches. Finally, there’s the decor and comfort items. All of these elements pull together a space that’s functional, and, in an ideal world, reflecting your personal style.

Many professional workspaces share some common features, such as desk pads, pen storage, desk lighting, and notebooks. There are several reasons these items show up on the desks of top performers:

  • Desk pads protect the most heavily used area of your desk from ink, oils and salts from your skin, and scratches and other mishaps. They also provide a smooth, consistent writing surface. Desk pads come in a variety of materials, colors, sizes, and styles. Leather, glass, large calendars or writing pads, and silicone are all common materials. A good desk pad is sturdy and can complement the look and feel of your workspace.
  • Lighting at your desk, as opposed to overhead office lighting, helps minimize eye strain in a couple of ways. First, it provides consistent lighting close to what you’re working on. Second, it offers a sharper contrast between text and paper without the shadowing overheads can cause. This allows your eyes to do less work.
  • Pen storage usually comes in the form of a cup or a tray. The type of pen you prefer can dictate which kind of storage you need. Felt tip and ballpoint pens generally do best when stored tip down in a cup, but quick dry, gel, and other styles do best horizontally so the ink doesn’t separate or pool in the tip.
  • Notebooks and planners can be highly personal to each user depending on whether they’re right- or left-handed, if they like to keep their notes organized, and how they prefer to store them. Some people need a leather portfolio with a variety of sections and others require a simple legal pad. Regardless, most people benefit from having a place to jot down quick notes and thoughts.

When you replicate an office you admire, start with the focal pieces and work on capturing the feel of the space. Address the smaller touches by selecting items that fit the vibe and your purpose. You can get some great ideas from the desk setups below.

5 desk setups from tv and the movies

How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and TV characters

The Devil Wears Prada: Miranda Priestly’s desk setup

Glamor and glitz, shimmer and shine—Miranda Priestly’s desk from The Devil Wears Prada showcases sharp minimalism, a lot of white space, and stark contrasts. The mix of glass and metal, light and dark, provide a sleek and modern industrial feel.

Her oversized glass desk provides plenty of room to spread out and multitask. It’s clear, which helps open up the room so it appears bigger than it is. Glass is also a great choice for lightening up a darker space or room that isn’t well lit.

Miranda’s chair was selected for looks, not comfort. It sports black leather with flared, sculpted arm rests and a silver base. By matching the base of the chair to the metal on the desk, Miranda subtly ties together the various elements. Furthermore, the gleam adds a bit of contrast.

The items on her desk, aside from her phone and lamp, are few and far between. They include a small wooden writing surface in the place of a desk pad, a tan leather padfolio and a basic, sleek black tray for office supplies. Leaving so much open space offers plenty of opportunity to spread out while working without needing to constantly move things out of the way.

How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and TV characters

Mad Men: Don Draper’s desk setup

Don Draper’s office in Mad Men uses warm tones and a mix of textures to pull off a mid-century style many people find grounding. It’s a classic “bullpen” kind of look that’s distinctly 1960s with just a dash of blasé faire.

Draper’s desk could be found in just about any office. It’s a solid, sturdy, wooden desk with double drawers on each side. It’s big enough to multitask on, but not so big as to be imposing. It’s perfectly functional and that’s good enough. His workspace boasts a multi-head adjustable desk lamp, black pencil cup, and a couple unique touches that are quite dated: a mounted ash tray and cigarette dispenser.

He uses a ubiquitous black executive office chair with a black wheeled base. Once again, it’s perfectly serviceable. It gets the job done without being flashy or over the top.

How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and TV characters

Brooklyn 99: Captain Ray Holt’s desk setup

Modern lines, heavy furniture, and matching woods combine to make Captain Ray Holt’s office in Brooklyn 99 a universal setup that works for just about any purpose. While not imposing, the look conveys authority without being overbearing. It’s modern enough to be progressive but uses classic features that make it timeless.

Captain Holt’s desk is the focal point of his office. It’s a large, modern black desk with wood grain top. Various accruements are scattered across it, but the most important is the leather desk pad with side rests. The captain’s desk pad has warm, brown accents, but it’s just fine to use what’s accessible.

Add in your letter tray, business card holder, and nameplate. Help complete the look with a retro desk lamp, gold fountain pens with a holder, and a basic, square pen holder. Scatter some personal touches; Captain Holt’s include an LGBTQ+ flag, glass paperweight, and a bird in flight. He also keeps the tools he uses most often, like his stapler and tape dispenser, easily accessible.

His chair is an executive high back mesh chair with great ergonomics. Spending hours a day sitting at your desk isn’t healthy, but sometimes it’s necessary. Proper lumbar support and adjustable height can help reduce the strain on your body.

How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and TV characters

The Chair: Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim’s office setup

Dr. Kim’s office in The Chair is distinctly academic with a lot of historical touches intermingled with modern updates. Used for a variety of purposes, this workspace combines wood, glass, and leather. There’s ample storage space, yet books and files overflow the shelves and spill out in stacks.

The clutter provides a “lived in” feel. As such, her workspace looks well-used and loved. There’s nothing sterile or clinical about it. All of the traditional stylings in the shelving, desk, lighting, and fixtures convey a refined elegance.

Her executive desk features a massive footprint and work surface, loads of drawer space, and a timeless sense of grandeur. Many of these desks feature elaborate woodwork or minute details, but some are just huge and stately. A full-surface glass desk topper protects the wood. Furthermore, glass is easier to clean than wood, especially over years, even decades, of use.

She has a tan desk pad that helps soften the dark tones surrounding her workspace. A brass desktop file organizer keeps frequently used or current projects close at hand. There’s a ubiquitous brown pencil cup alongside other common office supplies.

She’s got a low-profile computer monitor and keyboard offset to one side and angled to reduce glare from the large windows. This placement suggests she spends more time writing than typing. Her chair, a tall, adjustable, tan executive chair, allows her to swivel from a centered position to an angled one. The ability to easily change positions and heights reduces back, hip, and arm strain when switching activities requiring different ergonomics.

How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and TV characters

Suits: Jessica Pearson’s office setup

Contemporary and chic, Jessica Pearson’s workspace in Suits uses bright colors, neutral contrasts, and clean lines to create a modern, open kind of vibe. Her large, neo-modern table desk uses a large work surface, mix of materials, and non-traditional supports to subtly draw the eye without being so unique that it’s intrusive. The desk’s surface uses contrasting colors to emphasize its size and lack of bulk.

Her sleek, molded chair with flared armrests matches her desk. A desk pad in a warm brown softens the look and breaks up all the open space. She’s got a glass paperweight globe and a single silver pen stored upright, suggesting that most of her work is digital, not analog. Her MacBook Pro emphasizes the modern and cutting-edge ambience. A wire mesh letter tray completes the edgy, yet functional, setup.

For Jessica’s office, the surroundings are just as important as the actual desk setup. The walls use a splash of bright color to create a more inviting space. The multimedia artwork mixes warm brown tones with sharp black and white contrasts, thereby tying together the atmosphere.

Workspace setup tips and tricks

When you start working to personalize your workspace, keep in mind that the sets of your favorite shows come together with a large budget commanded by a professional set designer. You don’t have to break the bank or hire an internal decorator to pull off an office that suits you (unless that’s what would make you happiest!).

Most of all, have fun. When your workspace makes you happy, you’re much more productive.

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How to replicate the desk setup from 5 famous movie and tv characters