It’s not often that furniture makes a splash in The Verge’s newsroom (okay, it does happen occasionally), but when one of my colleagues dropped in Gizmodo’s article about Steelcase’s Frank Lloyd Wright Racine Collection, it immediately got everyone’s attention. “I volunteer as testing tribute!!!” said our smart home reviewer Jennifer Pattison Tuohy. “If anyone needs a kidney lmk,” sighed Alex Cranz, referring to the prices that we’ll talk about in just a moment.
The brand is known for practical, ergonomic, and well-made office ware, but this crop of furniture has a striking midcentury modern aesthetic that feels straight out of Wright’s era. I mean, just look at it. These pictures aren’t from the greatest antique store haul ever or a museum about the history of offices; they’re products being sold starting January 25th, 2023.
This furniture is, to put it lightly, a vibe.
For all of modern furniture’s features and benefits, I won’t say that I ever feel inspired by my standing desk or Herman Miller chair. They are simply unremarkable tools that I use to get work done. That can’t be said for the Frank Lloyd Wright Racine Signature Desk, with its dual maple and walnut tones, brass-colored accents, and curved, multi-level design. My desk feels like the type of thing you’d sit down and write an article at — the Steelcase feels like it’s meant for composing a masterpiece.
Is this mostly because the design is novel and evokes a healthy dose of extra-generational nostalgia? Absolutely; I’m sure the workers who used the original versions of these desks in the 1930s and 40s (they were built by Steelcase then, too) just felt like they were at work when they sat down at them. But nowadays, the design is dissimilar enough from most of the furniture that people are likely to have in their homes that it really could help set an office apart as a place where work or creativity happens.
As much as I’d like to get one of these, though, it’s not going to happen anytime soon because the Signature Desk starts at a cool $9,750.00. To be fair, it is the flagship piece of the series; the “modern” version of the desk, which comes in black, white, or dark brown, starts at around $4,600, though adding the storage and shelves will cost an additional $1,815 and $2,072, respectively. There are also a few utility tables from $2,610 to around $3,000 and chairs that you can pick up for as low as $1,808!
Okay, so you could probably get this general aesthetic for much cheaper if you’re willing to hunt around at used furniture stores (assuming you have good ones in your area). But honestly, I’m just glad that someone is still producing furniture that looks like this. According to Steelcase’s announcement, the collection “reinterprets and reimagines the classic furniture designs of Wright, originally produced by Steelcase for the SC Johnson Administration building in Racine, Wisconsin in 1939.”
There also may be more to come; late last year, Steelcase announced that it was “joining in a new creative collaboration” with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation with the intent to reintroduce some of his designs, as well as new pieces that take inspiration from his work. Friday’s press release calls the Racine collection the first result of the partnership, but I’m very excited to see what’s next. Maybe we’ll get some gaming chairs that look like they’re from decades before the term “video game” was even coined.