DESK by John Olson
This desk belonged to the grandmother of the man it belongs to now. It is where she kept her diary. A deeply pragmatic and grounded woman, her diary (not pictured) is full of facts; simple, bare, unadorned glimpses of life on a farm. The desk is a serious deep brown in which the grain of the wood swirls and waves. There are two large compartments on the bottom. At the top, a flap of wood comes down to provide a writing surface. Inside is a tiny drawer and two open compartments, one small, one large. The large compartment once housed a radio. When the grandmother used it, the radio was the major source of news and broadcast. Jack Benny, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, and President Roosevelts fireside chats issued from its speaker. The grandson frequently wonders what his grandmother, deceased since 1969, would make of her Neo-Surrealist grandson using her desk to practice verbal acrobatics and nonsensical flights of fancy. The space that once housed a radio is now radio-less and stuffed with the grandsons letters and folders and manuscripts. On the top of the desk the grandson keeps a quill made with the long swoop of a pheasant feather. Next to it is a paperweight, a gift from a gay friend after the grandsons second divorce.
Note On Availability: No power on earth could separate the grandson from this desk. He doubts it would bring him much money anyway. Its value is personal, but not entirely sentimental. He likes the look of it. It brings to mind America in the early 1900s. A woman in a red bandana going to milk eight bellowing cows at four in a crisp Dakota morning.
From the Spring 2006 isssue of ARCADE, architecture and design in the pacific northwest, edited by Christopher Frizzelle. He presents “a catalog of interiors that are not for sale” with items by Jonathan Raban, Anna Maria Hong, Jonathan Safran Foer, Charles D’Ambrosio, and etc. And I have one as well.