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

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.

Tom Spina Designs

Tom Spina Designs

2. A DOCTOR WHO-INSPIRED DESK

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.

Natalie Buske Thomas

Natalie Buske Thomas

3. A HARRY POTTER-INSPIRED DESK

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.

Anne Rozkydal

Anne Rozkydal

Anne Rozkydal

4. AN UP-INSPIRED DESK

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

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.

Aimy Wombwell

Aimy Wombwell

Aimy Wombwell

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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LEGO and IKEA Have Designed a New Line of Storage Boxes With the Help of Child Psychologists

IKEA
IKEA

Putting together IKEA furniture can remind grownups of their days playing with LEGO bricks. The two brands serve very different demographics, and now they've joined forces to create these ready-to-assemble products designed to appeal to both kids and adults.

As ThomasNet reports, BYGGLEK (Swedish for “to build and play") puts IKEA's practical, minimalist spin on the traditional LEGO toy. The key is a plastic storage bin featuring LEGO-compatible studs on its interior and exterior. Instead of using the floor as their play place and making rooms minefields for barefooted parents, kids can contain their creations within the box. When playtime is over, adults simply pick up the box holding the LEGO masterpiece and move it out of the way. The BYGGLEK boxes come in clean, neutral tones, so parents can show off their kids' handiwork on a canvas that fits the style of their home.

Opportunities for artistic expression for children often lead to headaches for the grownups who clean up after them. In order to make play a more organized experience without inhibiting creativity, LEGO and IKEA collaborated with child psychologists. The resulting product is a win for everyone: It allows parents to organize messes without deconstructing their child's work-in-progress.

IKEA and LEGO's BYGGLEK collection includes four products: A large box, a medium box, a set of three small boxes, and a basic 201-piece LEGO set for kids 5 and up. Prices range from $10 to $15; you can order yours today from IKEA.

[h/t ThomasNet]