5 Pop Culture-Inspired Desks

Courtesy of Tom Spina Designs
Courtesy of Tom Spina Designs

Feeling studious, crafty, or better yet, both? If your workspace is in need of a makeover, get inspired by one of these custom-made, pop culture-themed desks.

1. A TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES-INSPIRED DESK

A "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" desk designed by Tom Spina
Tom Spina Designs

Tom Spina runs a New York-based custom design studio that creates custom-themed furniture and décor, among other items. When a “kooky (in the best possible way) client” commissioned a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired desk, he decided to go all out, Spina tells Mental Floss.

“We figured, why not tell a bit of a story with it?” Spina says. “[Colleague] Richard Riley came up with the overall design, and I think the final piece is super unique, using the cutaway of the sewers to show the story of the ooze and how it flows down through the pipes, eventually getting to each baby turtle.”

"The design also gave us a chance to layer textures, which is always fun,” Spina adds. "We always love the chance to create stuff like faux cement, bricks, and rusty pipes. We love things that have a sense of age and character. What can we say, we like to play in the sewers!”

To learn more about Tom Spina Designs (or to commission your own TMNT-themed desk), visit the studio’s website.

A "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" desk designed by Tom Spina
Tom Spina Designs

A "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" desk designed by Tom Spina
Tom Spina Designs

2. A DOCTOR WHO-INSPIRED DESK

A "Doctor Who"-inspired Tardis desk, created by Natalie Buske Thomas, her husband Brent, and their son, Nicholas.
Natalie Buske Thomas

Hoping to bond with their quiet, college-bound son, Natalie Buske Thomas of Savannah, Georgia and her husband Brent teamed up with him to build a full-scale, interactive replica of a TARDIS console. "Nicholas was into Doctor Who, and that's the language he spoke,” Thomas tells Mental Floss. “We planned to get involved in the 2015 Doctor Who convention in Minneapolis to be a part of his world.”

The TARDIS console was a hit at the convention: “The convention's BBC guest Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor) saw our console and spontaneously launched into live improv,” Thomas says. “I became his companion. That was an unexpected turn of events! I earned serious Cool Mom cred for that.” Nicholas played bass guitar in front of the console with a keyboardist who played both the Doctor Who theme song and another tune from the show. (For the full story, and more pictures from the convention, visit Thomas's website.)

Today, Nicholas uses the console as a computer desk—its slanted planes are perfect for accommodating a flat-screen computer and keyboard. We’re sure the Doctor would approve.

A "Doctor Who"-inspired Tardis desk, created by Natalie Buske Thomas, her husband Brent, and their son, Nicholas.
Natalie Buske Thomas

A "Doctor Who"-inspired Tardis desk, created by Natalie Buske Thomas, her husband Brent, and their son, Nicholas.
Natalie Buske Thomas

3. A HARRY POTTER-INSPIRED DESK

A "Harry Potter"-themed desk designed by Anne Rozkydal and her partner, Larry
Anne Rozkydal

After retiring from the Air Force 10 years ago, Anne Rozkydal of Palmer, Alaska and her partner Larry began upcycling and refinishing old furniture.

“Our first hand-painted piece was a cute little antique desk done in a French theme with curly script and the Eiffel Tower,” Rozkydal tells Mental Floss. “My daughter and I have always been close, and all of my kids have introduced me to various young adult series, the overwhelming favorite being Harry Potter (all of my kids are grown and they have matching Deathly Hallows tattoos!). When Katie saw the Eiffel Tower desk, she loved it, but then suggested the next piece I do be Harry Potter-themed.”

Rozkydal took an old, beat-up desk that she had purchased from a garage sale and got to work. The desk’s wing-like drawer pulls were already characteristic of Hogwarts, so Rozkydal left the hardware alone, except to add vintage skeleton keys to the handles. She lined the drawers with papers decorated to look like Daily Prophet newspapers, and topped the desk with a bookcase (another garage sale find).

The bookcase is adorned with “potion” bottles, and contains a hidden compartment that’s covered in book spines painted to look like Hogwarts books. The luggage cart is actually a desk chair: The upper trunk’s lid opens to reveal a seat upholstered in Gryffindor colors.

You can view more of Rozkydal’s creations on Facebook, where she shares—and sells—them under the name AnneTiquesAlaska.

A "Harry Potter"-themed desk designed by Anne Rozkydal and her partner, Larry
Anne Rozkydal

A "Harry Potter"-themed desk designed by Anne Rozkydal and her partner, Larry
Anne Rozkydal

A "Harry Potter"-themed desk designed by Anne Rozkydal and her partner, Larry
Anne Rozkydal

4. AN UP-INSPIRED DESK

An "Up!"-inspired desk, created by design firm Twisted Image for Dublin-based advertising agency Boys and Girls
Liam Murphy/Boys and Girls

Dublin-based advertising agency Boys and Girls prides itself on providing creative solutions for clients, but their old office space was decidedly uninspired. “Our reception area in our old office was once described as 'small and routine' in design,” Kate Goldsmith, the company’s new business manager, tells Mental Floss. “To counter that, we designed a new reception desk in house to show off our creativity and then commissioned [design firm] Twisted Image to build our desk.”

The desk is supported by a stack of giant wooden Jenga blocks and a bunch of floating balloons that are reminiscent of the 2009 Pixar film Up. “By using a rubber composite that would never degrade, [Twisted Image was] able to fill the balloons with enough helium/hydrogen hybrid gas to float the desk indefinitely,” Design*Sponge explains. “The ribbons were reinforced with carbo-titanium, and an aerospace-grade titanium cleat was used to attach the strings to the desk.”

Since commissioning the desk, Boys and Girls has moved to a renovated former school building, which they’ve decorated with even more whimsical furniture items, including a table with a LEGO surface

5. A FANTASTIC FOUR COLLAGE DESK

A "Fantastic Four"-themed desk, created by Aimy Wombwell
Aimy Wombwell

Aimy Wombwell of East Aurora, New York loved the Fantastic Four as a kid, so she purchased vintage 1970s and ‘80s comics for her young sons. While decorating one of their bedrooms, the crafty mom—who runs an Etsy store called atomicfreckles—decoupaged these works onto a wooden desk, creating a colorful comics collage.

“It took me a while to do this by hand ... I covered every single bit of wood,” Wombwell told Mental Floss. “I also then added many layers of polyacrylic on top, and purchased a rounded, custom-made piece of glass for the top so when he writes it will be even. [For the] insides of the drawers, I hand-painted them orange for another pop of surprise color.”

Wombwell's Fantastic Four desk is listed on Etsy, but it isn’t technically for sale, as she simply wanted to show off her handiwork. That said, she’s open to commissions from customers who want their own personalized collage desk.

A "Fantastic Four"-themed desk, created by Aimy Wombwell
Aimy Wombwell

A "Fantastic Four"-themed desk, created by Aimy Wombwell
Aimy Wombwell

"A Fantastic Four"-themed desk, created by Aimy Wombwell
Aimy Wombwell

10 Wireless Chargers Designed to Make Life Easier

La Lucia/Moshi
La Lucia/Moshi

While our smart devices and gadgets are necessary in our everyday life, the worst part is the clumsy collection of cords and chargers that go along with them. Thankfully, there are more streamlined ways to keep your phone, AirPods, Apple Watch, and other electronics powered-up. Check out these 10 wireless chargers that are designed to make your life convenient and connected.

1. Otto Q Wireless Fast Charging Pad; $40

Otto Q Wireless Fast Charging Pad
Moshi

Touted as one of the world's fastest chargers, this wireless model from Moshi is ideal for anyone looking to power-up their phone or AirPods in a hurry. It sports a soft, cushioned design and features a proprietary Q-coil module that allows it to charge through a case as thick as 5mm.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

2. Gotek Wireless Charging Music Station; $57

Gotek Wireless Charging Music Station
Rego Tech

Consolidate your bedside table with this clock, Bluetooth 5.0 speaker, and wireless charger, all in one. It comes with a built-in radio and glossy LED display with three levels of brightness to suit your style.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

3. BentoStack PowerHub 5000; $100 (37 percent off)

BentoStack PowerHub 5000
Function101

This compact Apple accessory organizer will wirelessly charge, port, and store your device accessories in one compact hub. It stacks to look neat and keep you from losing another small piece of equipment.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

4. Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger; $85

Porto Q 5K Portable Battery with Built-in Wireless Charger
Moshi

This wireless charger doubles as a portable battery, so when your charge dies, the backup battery will double your device’s life. Your friends will love being able to borrow a charge, too, with the easy, non-slip hook-up.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

5. 4-in-1 Versatile Wireless Charger; $41 (31 percent off)

4-in-1 Versatile Wireless Charger
La Lucia

Put all of those tangled cords to rest with this single, temperature-controlled charging stand that can work on four devices at once. It even has a built-in safeguard to protect against overcharging.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

6. GRAVITIS™ Wireless Car Charger; $20 (31 percent off)

GRAVITIS™ Wireless Car Charger
Origaudio

If you need to charge your phone while also using it as a GPS, this wireless device hooks right into the car’s air vent for safe visibility. Your device will be fully charged within two to three hours, making it perfect for road trips.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

7. Futura X Wireless 15W Fast Charging Pad; $35 (30 percent off)

Futura X Wireless 15W Fast Charging Pad
Bezalel

This incredibly thin, tiny charger is designed for anyone looking to declutter their desk or nightstand. Using a USB-C cord for a power source, this wireless charger features a built-in cooling system and is simple to set up—once plugged in, you just have to rest your phone on top to get it working.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

8. Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain; $20 (59 percent off)

Apple Watch Wireless Charger Keychain
Go Gadgets

This Apple Watch charger is all about convenience on the go. Simply attach the charger to your keys or backpack and wrap your Apple Watch around its magnetic center ring. The whole thing is small enough to be easily carried with you wherever you're traveling, whether you're commuting or out on a day trip.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

9. Wireless Charger with 30W Power Delivery & 18W Fast Charger Ports; $55 (38 percent off)

Wireless Charger from TechSmarter
TechSmarter

Fuel up to three devices at once, including a laptop, with this single unit. It can wirelessly charge or hook up to USB and USB-C to consolidate your charging station.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

10. FurniQi Bamboo Wireless Charging Side Table; $150 (24 percent off)

FurniQi Bamboo Wireless Charging Side Table
FoneSalesman

This bamboo table is actually a wireless charger—all you have to do is set your device down on the designated charging spot and you're good to go. Easy to construct and completely discreet, this is a novel way to charge your device while entertaining guests or just enjoying your morning coffee.

Buy it: Mental Floss Shop

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Taco Bell Quarterly, a Taco Bell-Themed Literary Journal, Exists—And You Can Read It Online

What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
What does the Crunchwrap Supreme have to do with queer politics? A lot, actually.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell

In August 2019, writer and “Editor Grande Supreme” MM Carrigan launched the first edition of a free online literary journal called the Taco Bell Quarterly. It wasn’t a publicity stunt—in fact, it wasn’t affiliated with the fast food chain at all—but rather a quality collection of Taco Bell-themed literary musings that ran the gamut from satirical to totally serious.

According to Food & Wine, about 1500 people downloaded that first issue, and viewership grew to 40,000 for the second issue, which was released in February 2020. The Quarterly is gearing up to launch Volume 3 in September, and it promises to be the most zeitgeist-y edition yet.

“Volume 3 will be very much informed by the state of the world. The pieces we're gravitating toward are foreboding, existing on the precipice of an alternate history in which we might have prevented the pandemic," Carrigan tells Mental Floss. “People think we're a joke, but this will be the issue that proves we're not. Writers are taking chances in writing in our magazine that I don't think the literary world has seen in a long time. We're writing with radical sincerity.”

Capturing the cultural atmosphere of this year through Taco Bell-related poems, essays, and short stories might seem like a tall order, but the Quarterly is no stranger to tackling tough topics. While some early pieces are silly and upbeat—take Alana Saltz’s poem “Ode to Nacho Fries,” for example—others use Taco Bell as a backdrop for deeper musings about “homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more,” as Carrigan told Food & Wine.

Carrigan chose Taco Bell as the journal's unifying thread because, to put it plainly, it was the first idea that popped into her head.

“Brands are a symbiote that live in our brains. We're telling that story,” she says. And, as far as brands go, Taco Bell's offbeat, innovative menu items and neon beverages are more “seductive” and “daring” than McDonald's classic Big Macs and smiling clown mascot. In other words, the subversive fast food chain is the perfect theme for an online journal that aims to subvert people's stereotypical understanding of “The Writing Life,” which Carrigan describes as a “journey of MFA programs, writing retreats, [and] rubbing elbows at conferences.”

As interest in Taco Bell Quarterly grew, Taco Bell itself began to take notice, and Carrigan says the company has sent the team hundreds of dollars' worth of free tacos as an unofficial "thank you" for all the free advertising. She distributes them to writers whose work has been rejected by other literary magazines.

While you wait for Volume 3 to hit the internet this fall, catch up on the first two volumes on the Taco Bell Quarterly website here.

[h/t Food & Wine]