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John Howard's Desk

John Howard is a UX/UI & brand designer who owns and runs a small design shop in the historic section of Acworth, Georgia called Blackairplane.

Can you tell me something about your desk setup John?

My desk setup is an adjustable metal frame bottom that I stole from an old industrial drafting table my brother had (crazy heavy). I removed the top and built a new top. The new top is made of sanded wood that I white washed. It’s a lot of space for which I use one half to do my sketching and the other half to work digitally. I can host client sales meetings there because I have so much room.

I have the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, a magic mouse, and a 27” Samsung monitor. I also have a Saddle office chair from West Elm. My wall behind me was custom built by a friend out of pallets and the yellow chairs are Ekero chairs from IKEA.

Is there anything you would like to improve on this setup?

I love the setup. Cable management is tough. Because the desk is in the middle of the room keeping the cables grouped and looking clean for quick plugin and removal is tough. I am working with a local electrician on resolving this. I also would love something on the wood wall behind me. Thinking of getting a flag with our mantra ‘Go forth and have no fear’ from the guys at The Wild Standard. Would also love some wireless headphones but haven’t found any I’m totally in love with yet.

Do you have a favourite item on your desk?

My notebook is my favorite item on my desk. I keep a clean desk in general and this allows me to focus in on my wireframes and brand sketching before moving into digital. A lot of my ideas live here and I would be incredibly sad if it was ever lost.

What are you doing to stay focused?

I stay focused by listening to music. I’m loving the Spotify ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist. It’s broadened my horizons a bit and I’ve found some pretty great music I didn’t know about before. I also stay focused by using Slack, Trello, and email. It helps me see the goal at hand and deliver the right details to our team when they need it.

Is there something on your desk which helps you stay focused? What is it?

A moleskin notebook. Tride and true. Always there when I need to jot something down or sketch a quick thought on the go.

What was your latest self improvement experiment?

Last self improvement wasn’t an experiment (or maybe I’m the experiment), but it was having a kid. His name is Isaac and he is awesome. My life is regimented now and I’ve had to step up in quite a few areas. The day I announced I was having him, I lost my job. That caused me to step up immediately and work tirelessly on what today is known as Blackairplane. I ate much better during that time and lost 18 lbs. I felt great. I also had downtime to connect with my wife (she’s a teacher and has the summers off) so it was a bad situation turned really great.

Where do you see yourself and your desk in the next 5 years?

No idea for where I’ll be. I imagine I’ll have another kid and I hope to have Blackairplane continuing to make a presence here in Atlanta. Every day is an incredible blessing and reminder of God’s provision in my life and for my family. I’ll keep it one day at a time for now. Where do I see my desk? That’s another question. We have someone coming in soon to re-vamp our workspace so I am excited to see what type of materials and new gadgets I will be working with and around.

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by Daniel Puglisi