As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, many companies are figuratively shaking themselves off, taking stock, and hiring for new types of positions. The Verge is no different; it has recently hired Brandon Widder to be its senior commerce editor, a brand-new title for our next chapter. We asked Brandon if we could take a look at his home workspace, and this is what he showed (and told) us.
Tell me a little about yourself. What is your background, and what do you do at The Verge?
Great question! I recently started at The Verge as its first senior commerce editor. As of right now, I’m fixated on improving our deals, buying guides, gift guides, and any other type of content with commerce potential. If it’s an article with a product recommendation — laptop, headset, what have you — there’s a good chance I’ll be looking at it at some point.
Before starting at The Verge, I worked a number of years helming similar types of evergreen content for Digital Trends, another consumer tech site. I also used to routinely freelance for an alt-weekly in Portland, Oregon, where I currently live with my partner and our two cats. I mostly wrote about local and touring bands, with some outdoorsy stuff sprinkled in here and there.
How did you decide where and how to set up your workspace?
Well, “decide” is a strong word. My partner and I were forced to work from home as a result of the pandemic. We feel extremely fortunate that we were able to do so, but we didn’t have a dedicated space for us both to work in the beginning. Fortunately, when the unexpected desk shortage of 2020 subsided, I was able to set one up in the corner of our guest room, directly next to the window where I could watch the rain. It’s small and probably doesn’t have much in the way of feng shui, but, honestly, I enjoy how cozy it is. Space is overrated.
Tell me a little about the desk itself.
The desk is the Munguia Desk from Wayfair. I actually didn’t pick it out... let’s just say I inherited it when my partner and I traded work spaces at home. As much as it pains me to admit it, I do like it, namely because it’s relatively sturdy and affords me just the right amount of cubby space. It’s not particularly wide, but it also has a single drawer where I can stash my AirPods Pro and all the cables I probably should have thrown away a decade ago.
And how about your desk chair?
Like my desk, the Louise Desk Chair came with the territory when I took over the office. We were looking for something to match the brass guest bed shoved into the corner of the room, and despite it being a little too glam for my taste, it’s extremely comfortable and meshes well with the rest of the decor. Apparently, it’s “hand-curated by Kelly Clarkson,” which is something I just figured out while looking at the product listing. I just wish it could tilt.
You have a rather simple setup compared to some of your Verge compatriots. Could you tell us a bit about your tech?
Clutter can really get to me, so I try to keep things clean. For work, I use the M1 MacBook Air, but you wouldn’t know it given that it’s housed in the cubby beneath my desk. It’s a great machine, one that Dieter and the team have already gushed over.
On the peripheral front, I recently sprung for the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q, a fantastic 4K display that affords me a bit more screen real estate than the Air and simultaneously charges my laptop via USB-C. I also have Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2. I’ve never been a huge fan of desktop mice, so when I picked up an external monitor, the trackpad just made sense.
Elsewhere on my desk, I have one of Anker’s wireless Qi charging pads for my iPhone X and a Sonos One. I listen to everything from political post-punk to the gorgeous instrumental work of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, but everything in the Sonos lineup really shines regardless of the genre. I’m a sucker for the entire ecosystem, especially given its simplicity.
Tell us about the interesting wood piece that you have on your desk. And the — jawbone?
When I’m not working, I tend to spend a lot of time outside. I love hiking and backpacking, and I’m really involved with Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, one of our local SAR outfits. The driftwood is from the shores of the San Juan Islands; the rock from a small peak in Sun Valley, Idaho. My fascination with the natural world extends to bones — morbid, I know — which is why I have a bobcat skull sitting on my desk. It’s a bit in shambles at this point, though, having succumbed to my cats.
I’m fascinated by the old-fashioned lightbulb you have next to the plant.
That would be my so-called mood lighting. There’s a small-ish company out of Portland called Grovemade, which manufactures an assortment of desk accessories out of wood and leather. Most of them run on the pricey side, but the quality is great. I picked up the now-discontinued walnut lamp a few years back and, more recently, the leather pad on which my keyboard and trackpad rest. It’s basically me trying to bring more natural elements into the fold.
And you have a notebook and pen by your keyboard.
Yes! Like most people at The Verge, I probably have more spreadsheets and Google Docs than I care to admit. The notebook allows me to jot down quick notes and keep them close at hand. It also just feels really good to physically write every once in a while, which is something I think a lot of us can appreciate. Field Notes are great because they come in all shapes and sizes, some of which are waterproof.
Is there anything else about your work space that we haven’t covered?
Not really! The only other thing worth noting is my backlighting, which, if you live in an area that gets as much rain as I do, is crucial during the wetter months. For me, I’ve found the Philips Hue color lightbulbs to work best, partly because I’m tapped into the Hue network. If I want bright lights for a Zoom call or something more moody for after-hours work, all I have to do is say the word to Alexa. It’s super convenient.