The Standing Desk Made Famous

November 5, 2012

Standing desks were used by some of the greatest minds across the ages.

In the last post we told you about the history of the adjustable height desk and some of the brilliant minds who have been known to use them over the years. But the list of historical figures who have used sit to stand desks or standing desks goes far beyond the few people we mentioned. T

We thought we’d delve a little bit deeper into some of those big names who have helped make the adjustable height desk what it is today.

1) Leonardo Da Vinci. Yes, the Leonardo Da Vinci. Not only did this Renaissance man complete some of his most famous paintings standing up at an easel (the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Virgin of the Rocks…), but he also designed some of his most memorable inventions at a standing desk.

It was behind a standing desk that he came up with so many versions of his flying machines, the armored car, and the parachute. It’s almost surprising that he wasn’t the one to come up with the first adjustable height desk; but he certainly got his creative juices flowing while standing behind a standing desk.

2) Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was one of the first men in history to famously use the adjustable height desk. He had a six legged, “tall” desk with a slanted, adjustable desktop. The good that came from this one man—from the Declaration of Independence, to the Louisiana Purchase, to the very invention of the Democratic-Republican system of government—is almost unfathomable. In short, this guy seemed to know what he was doing; and if used an adjustable height desk to come up with ideas, well, that’s reason enough for me!

3) Charles Dickens. “Books all round, up to the ceiling and down to the ground; a standing desk at which he writes; and all manner of comfortable easy chairs.” This was how Charles Dickens wrote in his crowded, cozy study. Can we thank the standing desk for such works as A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield? Well, that might be pushing it. But the standing desk certainly couldn’t have hurt!

4) Winston Churchill. It is widely known that this previous British Prime Minister used a standing desk in his home office. It is also widely known that he lived to be 90 years old—which may as well have been 110, considering the expected lifespan at the time.

His lengthy life certainly wasn’t due to a relaxing job (he was the leader of the U.K. during the second World War, after all), nor was it due to his healthy habits (he was rumored to smoke about 10 cigars a day). So can we chalk his long life up to the standing desk he used so often? Maybe so. We can at least say for sure that he wouldn’t work behind anything else.

5) Ernest Hemingway. “A working habit he has had from the beginning, Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his over-sized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu – the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.”This description from the Paris Review gives us a glimpse at the working habits of one of our nation’s most celebrated writers.

Hemingway was often photographed proudly behind his standing desk, fingers positioned lightly over his typewriter, just waiting to tap out their next masterpiece. As Hemingway said of the standing desk: “Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind; and I like to write standing up.” Here, here.

Leaders and literary geniuses alike have used the standing desk or adjustable height desks throughout history. Today the adjustable height desk seems to be regaining some of that popularity. Chris Spurlock, the infographic designer for The Huffington Post, Anthony DeRosa, from Reuters, and even the entire staff of Men’s Health are just a handful of people using adjustable height desks, like the Xdesk these days.

So take a page out of history and join the ranks of those famous people, past and present, to benefit their health, creativity, and overall energy by using the standing desk or the adjustable height desk.


Can you think of any other famous users of the standing desk? Comment below!


  1. It is pretty well understood that Donald Rumsfeld uses a standing desk. There is also a recent episode of “The Office” where Dwight ‘tried’ to use a standing desk for a little while.

    Comment by Jeff@Anthro — November 13, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  2. Hi, Jeff. I notice that you said Dwight “tried” to use the adjustable height desk… I didn’t see this episode– what happened?! Thanks for the comment!

    Comment by admin — November 14, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

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