A man’s office isn’t just a place where he works. It’s his sanctuary, his second home, and—at least when he crosses the threshold into middle age—usually the only place in his life that is truly his and his alone. “When a man comes into his 40s, his office should reflect his lifestyle—his achievements, his tastes, and his accomplishments,” says interior designer Philip Gulotta. “When you’re in your 40s, you really come into your skin, your office is your space.”
Ditto, says interior design Cristina Hadzi. “Forty-something men venturing into their own office spaces have a unique opportunity to express themselves. It can be an extension of their personalities, where they can be comfortable and perhaps most importantly, a place they genuinely look forward to coming to each day.”
With that in mind—and with Gulotta and Hadzi’s help—we narrowed down the top 20 things every man over 40 needs in his personal workspace—from the perfect espresso machine to lipstick pillows to the right foliage. So read on and stock up. And for when you’re OOO, be sure to check out the 40 Items Every Man Over 40 Should Have In His Home.
A design-forward lamp.
Let’s face it: an old-school banker’s lamp is for your dad (or your dad’s dad), and an Ikea lamp is, frankly, beneath your exalted station in life. We recommend the Goldman Lamp ($545), which falls into a chic and tasteful middle ground. This gorgeous item, designed by artist Ron Gilad, features a USB plug-in along with a dimmable Soft Touch Technology. Bonus: it’s energy efficient.
A really great reading chair.
When you’re the boss, you have more time to read and digest important information. As such, you should always have a great reading chair on hand—something that’s preferably cozy and classic yet slightly edgy and design-forward. Vladimir Kagan’s seating chairs (price upon request) fit the bill perfectly: they’re an often-overlooked mid-century piece that can fit in any modern office and will exude great taste. Whatever specific chair you opt for, Kagan recommends your chair have functional arms, which make for more comfortable reading. And once you get your reading chair, be sure to learn the 4-step plan to mastering speed-reading.
A real espresso machine.
You shouldn’t have to leave your office to walk to Starbuck’s for a late-afternoon pick-me-up. Instead, pick up the compact and powerful Rocket Appartamento, which produces one seriously mean shot. This espresso machine will also make your office the most popular hangout at your firm.
“A major design trend in last few years has been to bring elements of one’s home into commercial and work spaces,” says Hadzi. “This is popping up everywhere. High-tech coffee makers are indispensable to a functioning office.”
A standing desk that isn’t paper reams.
Yes, you can always do with some sort of makeshift standing desk—piling up books or reams of printer paper. But you could also wear sandals and a backwards hat to work. In the end, it’s just a really terrible idea.
In 2017, the health benefits of a standing desk are so well known—and enough cool companies are making killer versions—that there’s simply no excuse for getting one that isn’t worthy of an executive. We recommend Swedestyle’s Classic Flex. It’s clean, sleek, sturdy, and much more attractive than any faux-wood office supply finish. And if you’re still not sold on the standing desk, remember that it’s one of 7 surefire ways to conquer lower back pain once and for all.
Unless you’d rather your underlings or clients think you don’t read.
An inspiring photograph (that doesn’t have any words).
Every successful man should have a beautiful, meaningful print that tells a story and lets his colleagues know that he has truly sophisticated tastes. We recommend going with something black and white—like the timeless works of photographers such as Russel Lee or Ansel Adams—which is as beautiful as it is inspiring.
Something old, rare, and functional.
There are plenty of vintage pieces of office equipment that are aesthetically cool and functional, but their functions are different from their original purposes. For instance: maybe have an old filing drawer that you got from your grandpa to put baseball cards in, but you now use to stuff your power chords in (like this 1920s oak file card cabinet, which retails for $640). Or maybe get an old magnifying glass and use it as a paperweight.
Something rare and completely nonfunctional.
Yes, you should have a pure conversation piece that tells your visitors something interesting about you. A rare basketball signed by LeBron? A rare skate deck mounted on your wall? A guitar signed by Keef? A sculpture? “This is a wonderful opportunity for 40-plus men to show a more personal side of their lives besides what they bring to the work force,” says Hadzi. “If one displays their collection of signed basketballs or Hermes boxes, it will invite visitors to engage on a more personal level.”
A great chess set.
Nothing projects a heightened level of thoughtful intelligence quite like having a chess set nearby. And no, not your typical chess set. We’re talking about a sturdy set made from marble—or another hefty material—that will sit in your office like a shrine, just begging to be played by everyone who walks in. We recommend Jonathan Adler’s Acrylic Chess Set ($795), which is guaranteed to impress any aspiring grand masters.
Something edgy and surprising.
“You’re a serious player but a kid at heart, and that’s an irresistible combination,” says Hazdi. “I know a lawyer who purchased a few needlepoint throw pillows for his office sofa. They were Pop art images of a woman’s red lips smoking, popping a pill, and with a finger to her lips inviting you to be secretive and to be hush hush about your vices. He happily reported all his co-workers often stop by to admire them.”
First off, it’s functional: plants are nature’s greatest air filters, and they will help you think. Secondly: they’re a wonderful design touch, especially if you go with something like the Beaucarnea (otherwise known as the “Ponytail Palm”). They don’t take up much ground space because their roots don’t expand, and they manage their own water (they store it in their thick trunk), so you can always have a bit of green in your office, which shows that you are responsible and have a natural touch. “I love the pencil cactus because they are very architectural and low maintenance.” Says Gulotta. “I love them in offices. They are also very peaceful and calming.”
A paperweight that tells a story.
Whether it is piece of petrified wood that you found on your last summit or your daughter’s imaginary clay animal that is a cross between a fox and raccoon, your paperweight should be personal and have a good story behind it’s genesis. Your paperweight is also an ice breaker for those uncomfortable clients who you haven’t yet connected with and a reminder of a fond memory that can help you escape on a stressful day.
A stylish erg-friendly desk chair that reclines.
You don’t have to trade style for function when it comes to a desk chair. Designer Yves Behar’s beautiful Sayl chair (from $510) for Herman Miller, is perhaps the greatest modern office chair. It’s is elegant and understated and crazily comfortable. And if you’re itching for more ideas for a new office chair, check out the 15 greatest office chairs of all time.
Cellphone-friendly conference-call tech.
You are old enough to heard. It is time for a big boy phone, don’t be that gargled voice on the call. The Meeteasy MVOICE 800-B Bluetooth ($270) conference speakerphone is easy to use and will make sure your voice is heard.
A Don Draper-style bar cart.
“Socializing around making drinks is really coming back and a bar cart is the way to go.” Says Gulotta. “I’m putting bar carts everywhere. Everyone, at end of the day, is going to come to your office. This gives you a position of power.”
A whiskey decanter.
Having liquor in your office in your 20s or 30s might actually come off as irresponsible, but past your 40s, it’s essential. Made with heavy crystal, a classic square decanter will send all the right signals, and convey to your visitors that you’re a man of high taste and not a binge drinker. Consider The Boss from Moser ($1,095) as a fitting addition to any bar cart.
Seriously. Remember: at the end of the day, the office is a personal place for you. You’ve worked hard and will continue to do so, so why not get comfy in the office? A slick pair of office slippers are great for long working nights or a great way to relax out of your brogues. Stubbs and Wootton’s Classic College slippers ($495) will remind you of how far you have come. All you have to do is look down.
Long gone are the days when you could frame a poster, and up-and-coming artists that might be shown at Pulse and other smaller fairs are always a good place to start. “I think building a collection is imperative,” says Gulotta. “For me, being a designer, art is always the hardest part of the job. I can only guide my clients, ultimately this is the most expressive and personal part.”
If you’re an executive, you probably need to attend a black-tie event every now and then. Chances are, those events go down during the week, not the weekend. So be prepared. “And it has to fit like a glove,” says Gulotta. “Go custom.”
A bespoke sofa.
The days of Ikea couches are over. You deserve something all your own. Whether you reupholster an older sofa with some decadent fabric or have a sofa built with the dimensions of your office, your sofa speaks volumes about you. It is the largest piece of furniture in your office, and most of the people coming your office will sit on it, so it should be unique and memorable. George Smith can whip up a handsome piece that clients will ask about when they re-do their offices.
Next, learn the 40 Things No Man Over 40 Should Ever Own.
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