Table Design Centers For All!

Here’s a design secret: Most designers work from their dining room table at home. I do it myself along with many of my friends in the industry. Its a great place to spread out and get things done. Its also close to the fuel we all need: coffee!

With this in mind, whenever I work from home at my table, I wind up bringing what seems like a small stationery store as well. Things like Post-it notes, pencils, sharpies, and adhesive tape, as well as tools like scissors, Xacto knives, and rulers. All these things usually wind up spread out on the table and then picked up and put back in my office. For that reason, I thought why just not leave them out all the time. After all they would only take the place of a centerpiece, like a plant.

However, since they would be out all the time, aesthetics would be important. Hence the Table Design Center. A functional centerpiece made up of design materials and tools that are available at the ready. In essence, it’s a sort of prototyping station for the table.

Table design centers are customizable in what they hold. You can include anything you use regularly when you design. Their purpose is to make these materials and tools more accessible, therefore allowing creativity to easily flow. They can be used by not only designers, but anyone who wants to spark creativity in others as well and on tables at home, office, and schools. So how do you make one and what do you include.


First thing you need is a container. There are many sizes and shapes to choose and just as many kinds of materials from which they are made of. A container is merely a way to contain everything on the table in an orderly manner so there are many to many choose from. Some of these can be baskets, small crates, trays, or even boxes. Choose one that fits the theme on your desk. For example, If you have a farm style table, a tin container would fit the theme. The size and shape would also be dictated by the shape and size of the table of course.


Next are the canisters that will hold almost everything in the design center. I personally like to use Mason jars. They are cheap and versatile. You can get them in several sizes and even different colors. Sometimes I leave the lids on for small things like clips and staples. Sometimes I just leave the ring and remove the lid if I am using it for bigger things or things I want to access quickly like pencils and Sharpies. If you’re into recycling, you can also use different kinds of food jars. I have used pickle jars, jam jars, and spaghetti sauce jars. I don’t even bother taking off the label, especially if it has great graphics.


Next comes the fun part, populating your design center with the supplies and tools you love. Here is a list of the many kinds you can choose from:



Binder Clips

Paper Clips




Battery Operated Sharpener


Stapler Remover

Paper Punch




Colored Pencils




Personality refers to anything you add that makes the Design Center more individual or unique to you. These items are usually not functional or necessary, but they add character. Some of them can be a plant, a bud vase, a small framed photograph, a mannequin model (as in the picture below) or even a figurine.

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by Rick Funes.


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Rick Funes

PO Box 141166

Coral Gables, Florida 33114-4445