Flashback Furnishings: Creating a Vintage Office Look

overhead view of vintage office desk

vintage office look

Over the past few decades, the American workplace has undergone drastic changes, to say the least. As we have ushered in an age of “dot com” start-ups and other tech companies, workplace design has put an increased emphasis on practicality and economic layouts, with less emphasis on personal style. While some welcome these changes with open arms, a lot of office workers would love to see the rows of cubicles replaced with offices chalk full of retro furniture like vintage desks, mid-century bookshelves, and other retro accessories.

Many would love to take work spaces back to a time when they were an extension of their personality and style. For those that view the office as more than a place to simply grind through paperwork, check out some of these great tips to achieve a vintage office look:

Design Around Your Desk

One of the more prominent design features of offices from the early 20th century was making the desk the focal point of the room. Whether it’s situated in the center of the room or further towards the back wall, your desk should be the centerpiece of the room. Think of the desk as the design “nucleus” of the office to design around. Think about setting vintage bookshelves behind it or setting up end tables or art on either sides; whatever you choose make your desk the star of the show.

vintage partners desk

Click here to view the vintage “Partners Desk” featured above

Geometric Shapes and Styles

Office furniture and desk accessories in the 50’s and 60’s were all about abstract geometric and curvilinear shapes, given the pieces produced in that time an unmistakable look. As you hunt swap meets, flea markets, and antique stores plotting your layout, look for pieces featuring clean, sharp lines or flowy, organic curves to create that vintage look and feel you are searching for. When thinking about desk decorations, adding retro, geometric bookends, vintage letter openers or an Anglepoise lamp would complement the room perfectly.

Because designers from that era experimented several different types of materials, you don’t have to resign to focusing on one to complete the vintage look. You can choose between pieces made of wood, wood veneer, vinyl, or molded plastics and synthetics and still be historically accurate.

Art & Paint for a Vintage Office

After deciding on your desk and other pieces of furniture, you should turn your attention to the walls. Debra Kling, a NY-based color consultant and decorator, sums up a classic mid century color palette as “natural elements like stone and stained wood, and earth tones…punctuated by what I call ‘Diner Brights’ – orange, magenta, and turquoise”. While your boss may have a slight issue completely repainting your office, you can still hunt for vintage paintings or reproduction prints that align with this motif (Etsy is a great recourse for cost effective art)

In terms of wall décor, a “ball clock” is the perfect accessory to complete your offices vintage look. Created by famed designer George Nelson, who developed the clock for the Howard Miller Clock Company, while working as the director of design for Herman Miller. First sold in 1949, the clock went on to become a quintessential example of mid century design and would give your office space an added element of quirkiness and fun.

Whether invoking the mid-century styling of Don Draper or the more classic looks of the Roaring 20’s, a vintage office will add personality to your everyday office routine.

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