My desk is not nice enough to do justice to the Galen desk pad

I want to have an Instagrammable desk, I really do. Quirky objets d’art. Small pot plants, maybe a cactus. A steaming cup of green tea. Casually brilliant planner spreads.

The kind of space that’s perfect for a flat-lay pocket dump.

Zoom out, pan back: a city view with perfect sunlight streaming through gossamer blinds. An artisan poncho draped over the back of an uncomfortable-looking cafe chair.

And this is where the dream falls apart for me.

Alas (as I’ve shared before) mine is a working desk, covered in scratches and a little dusty, even when I keep it tidy. My well-worn black work-issue Thinkpad is no pretty Macbook. Ugly wires trail behind to an all-too-visible power strip. My IKEA desk chair has a noticeable bum-shaped depression in its cushion (and a huge stain from Iroshizuku Kiri-Same). Even in summer the light is often dulled by English rainclouds. And I drink my coffee from giant dented travel mugs that carry me through a marathon Webex session.

Without labouring the point, the idea of photographing my desk setup to show off a new desk accessory fills me with dread and a little bit of shame. It’s why I stick to close-ups of pens.

So I hope you’ll forgive me if there aren’t many beautiful wide-angle, in situ shots of the Galen Leather Desk Pad in this review. Let my words fill you in instead.

So let’s start at the beginning.

For me a desk pad is an essential item for any workspace. It gives you a cushioned place to rest your wrists and place your essentials, preventing scratches and dents both to delicate objects like pens, and to your wooden desk surface. A desk mat dampens the noise of a keyboard, and serves as a mouse mat (although I happen to use a trackball). If you have a glass or metal desk (my last one was glass), a desk mat is much nicer on the skin in the morning than cold glass!

On my desk, this mat from Galen replaces a clear plastic/rubber one from IKEA, which was functional but never beautiful. The Galen could not be a bigger contrast.

You can choose your Galen desk pad in seven standard colours, or they’ll even dye it to a custom colour, as well as adding embossed initials to personalise it. I am completely lacking in imagination so I went for classic ‘brown’, which is just the shade I hoped: darker than tan, but not a true dark brown. More of a chestnut colour, like saddle leather. See here against my Franklin-Christoph Penvelope in boot brown, the Galen has a lot more orange in it.

Unlike some of Galen’s “crazy horse” finishes, the desk mat isn’t a heavy leather, nor is it marked and scarred. The texture is very smooth, even shiny.

The finish and colouring is even and the mat is only a few mm thick. I expect that daily use and the oils from my hands will change the colours quite dramatically over the years.

This is not an executive-style desk blotter for some lawyer in a suit. There’s no stitching, the edges aren’t fully burnished, there’s no detailing.

Instead it’s natural and rustic, corners rounded like a Macbook, well-suited to sitting on a pale wood desk used by a hipster creative (although I can’t count myself in that crowd any longer).

Galen ships the mat rolled in a poster tube, but it’s thin and flexible enough that it lays flat almost immediately to its full size of 24×15 inches, which I found to be just the right size to fit my workspace without feeling cramped. I didn’t notice much of a ‘new leather’ smell, incidentally, and Galen must do something to the leather because there’s a kind of textured plastic coating on the reverse.

Despite this finish it isn’t particularly non-slip, but once you’ve got a few objects on it it won’t slide around unless you want it to.

I’ll be redoing my home office setup soon with a new desk and chair, and I’ve been inspired by the Galen desk pad to design a whole space I’m truly proud to spend ten hours a day in. Like the rug in Big Lebowski, the desk mat really ties the space together. And at £55, it’s an inexpensive way to transform your workspace.

7 thoughts on “My desk is not nice enough to do justice to the Galen desk pad

  1. Your desk mat is beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing what your new set-up looks like.

    I have a couple of travelers notebooks from Galen, and they are beautiful — the quality is amazing.

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    • I’m an iPhone user now, and I’ve had an iPad in the past but never found a use for it in my habits and workflows. When travelling (hah!) the Microsoft Surface Go is my weapon of choice. Yes, it’s a Boker, the Wasabi. UK legal!

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  2. Pingback: Link Love: Finally! We Can Drink the Ink! - Clipsi

  3. I, too have felt the serial inadequacies of my desk; in fact, it scarcely deserves the name. When we moved here, eight years ago, we left a decent, light-filled office space and assumed that as both of us were retired, the lack of room (literally) for an office would hardly matter. It did. We shunted a cheapo (Ikea) child’s desk into what had once been a corridor to a door, long since blocked and replaced with a window, put shelves down one side of the narrow space and coped. After my husband died, I thought about making it better, and last year, seven years late, I finally did it. Got a carpenter to fit a slim wrap around desk top, shelves for notebooks and ink, and painted it all white. There’s only room for one person, without serious shuffling, and if I gain any more weight, I’ll have to breathe in. And yet it works and I enjoy having everything within reach. I did indulge myself with a stationery box from Life of Riley a while back (sale!) and it’s perfect. And while I’d love the Galen leather desk pad you describe, I’m pretty sure even the smaller one would swamp my space. Although….

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