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Kidney Shaped Writing Desks

Updated on January 28, 2013

Introduction to Kidney Shaped Writing Desks

Kidney Shaped Writing Desks

Just how popular and endearing are kidney shaped writing desks?  Extremely.  The kidney shaped writing desk is believed to have originated in France during the 1700’s.  Thomas Sheraton, a furniture designer heavily influenced by the Louis XV furniture style took the desk design back to England with him and made a desk design which has basically been in constant production for the last 250 years.

Thomas Sheraton lived between 1751 and 1806.  Three book published of note are:

  • The Cabinet Maker’s & Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, published in four volumes in 1791
  • The Cabinet Maker’s Dictionary, in 1803 and
  • The Cabinet Maker’s, Upholsterer’s & General Artist’s Encyclopedia, in 1805. 

In addition to designing desks other works included chairs and tables.  While it is known that he designed furniture it is believed that he never produced a single piece of furniture by his own hand.

While the form of the kidney shaped writing desk is still available in quality, affordable desks today, Sheraton infused the basic form with art that is unrivaled.  Basic components of Sheraton’s design tastes are reflected in antique kidney shaped writing desks.  Sheraton preferred straight lines and tapered legs ending in natural or spade feet.  When Sheraton did utilize curves they were broad, sweeping curves, such as the arch of the kidney shaped writing desk.

If the design seemed simplistic, his inlay work is considered to be unsurpassed.  Focusing on floral or classical motifs, Sheraton frequently used kingwood, rosewood, zebrawood, tulip and holly in his extravagant inlay work, separating each section with thin bands of ebony.  The beauty of his work is reflected in the price of his antiques.

For anyone else looking for a good writing desk, a modern kidney shaped writing desk is still a good choice.  Average dimensions are 30 inches deep by 60 inches wide and it stands about 30 inches off the floor.  Up to five drawers can be accommodated on either side of the knee hole, though frequently two or three drawers are omitted on one side to accommodate a file cabinet drawer.  The bottom line is that a kidney shaped writing desk offers a wide writing surface, plenty of storage, a reasonable price (starting at about $200) and plenty of reasons why it’s still around after all these years.

So What Does This All Mean?

While kidney writing desks aren't at the same level they used to be, this uniquely shaped pieces of office furniture are making a steady comeback in popularity.  While it's hard to say if this is something that will continue or if they will eventually be replaced and fade away, for now it's safe to say that these desks have been around for some time and they're likely to remain with at least some strong followers.

If you enjoyed reading this hub and want to learn more about the many different types of writing desks out there, feel free to check out this writing desk blog.

Comments on Kidney Writing Desks

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    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this info; I have been looking for a new desk. Your article provided a place to start…

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for showing these beautiful desk.

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