It was pretty. Damn it was pretty. The subjects were all scantily clad in accessories and the lighting was just right. Whether it was an image I found on the web or a self-shot photo submitted by a reader, my standard was always “will this make my readers’ jaws drop?”

But, it was bullshit. It was such bullshit. We were creating this completely unrealistic ideal that no one should have to live up to.

Who has the most minimal desk setup?

The real question is, who gives a fuck?

I started Simple Desks—a Tumblr site for collecting photographs of minimal desks and work setups—back on March 15, 2010. Its initial purpose was simple: I was having a desk custom built by a friend, and I wanted an easy way of saving photos to use as inspiration. Tumblr’s bookmarklet was the easiest way I could think of to simply keep an archive of the photos I found, without having to clog up my own hard drive.

Shorty after I started the site, I published a link to it on Twitter and asked if anyone had a photo of their desk they wanted to share, feel free to submit it. Eighteen months later I had published over 350 photographs of people’s desks.

Desks.

Empty, lifeless, workless desks.

About 6 months into running Simple Desks I began realizing that what I was doing was running a porn site. No, not topless girls and chest-hairless guys romping around in a beach house-type porn. Just pointless, casual, look-at-this-empty-fucking-desk-you’ll-never-have porn.

And we were all getting off on it.

But I kept it up. I kept it up because, baby, it paid. Not in the thousands-of-dollars-a-month type of paid, but certainly more than what a guy publishing photos of desks should deserve.

Then, in October of this year we finished the short film my friends and I spent countless hours on, and I realized how incredibly proud I was of that and how excited I was to share it with people. I never felt that way about posting desk pictures. Never.

So, I started thinking about shutting it down. Once I returned home from LA in early December, the decision had been made: as of 2012, Simple Desks would be no more.

And, if I had any doubts about whether this was the right thing to do, hearing Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discuss the fetishism of minimalism on a recent episode of Back to Work quickly put them to rest.


I want to spend my time creating work that is substantial. To hear someone tell me that a scene in Imprint made them tear up, that a lyric in a song I’ve written has uplifted someone who was down, or to see users enjoy using something I’ve created on the web, these are the moments I want to experience more often. These are moments for humans.