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

5 Weird 1960s Covers for Classic Novels

Chaloner Woods/Getty Images
Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

There are a lot of weird and bad book covers for the classics out there, and the Internet has delighted in chronicling them.

Some are designed to mimic the look of current blockbusters, like these Twilight-style covers for novels by Jane Austen and the Brontës. Others rely on bad stock photos and inept Photoshopping for classic works that have crossed into the public domain, from The Scarlet Pimpernel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The subset of covers for 1960s paperbacks is rich with particularly hideous findings, mostly from Penguin and Signet Classics. Shockingly, they're not made by untalented people who are bad at Photoshop. These covers were drawn by established, objectively talented, and sometimes famous illustrators like graphic design legend Milton Glaser. They were purposely executed in unorthodox, interpretive styles. But although they may be done by respected artists, their aesthetic value remains questionable. Take a look at some of the strangest below.

1. THE GREAT GATSBY BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD // 1962

The Great Gatsby cover by John Sewell
Courtesy of Setana Books

In the baffling jacket for this Jazz Age classic, a man’s face is stretched bizarrely sideways. He appears to be wearing thick eyeliner and has some serious wrinkles around his eyes. But, let's back up for a minute: Who is this supposed to be? Surely not the title character; Gatsby doesn’t have a bald patch or a unibrow. One Twitter user who collects Gatsby editions considers this specimen to be the "oddest" one he owns.

The artist, John Sewell, was a British graphic designer working in the '60s whose print covers usually involved colored paper cut-outs. He did a cover in a similar style for F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, but that one is a little less weird.

2. OUR MUTUAL FRIEND BY CHARLES DICKENS // 1964

cover of Our Mutual Friend by Seymour Chwast
Courtesy of swallace99, Flickr.

The artist here is Seymour Chwast, who, along with Milton Glaser, co-founded the postmodern collective Push Pin Studios in 1954. The Push Pin style "reject[s] tradition in favor of reinvigorated interpretations of historical styles," as their website states.

And yet, the people on this cover are hideous. The eyebrows on Our Mutual Friend's Gaffer Hexam (the man in the white shirt) are at a sharp 45-degree angle, a trait rarely found in nature. Lizzie Hexam, who’s supposed to be beautiful, also looks pretty wretched.

According to the artist's biography on the Seymour Chwast Archive, "Each of his imaginary characters (even portraits of real individuals) have similar facial features—round lips, slits for eyes, bulbous noses. They never scowl, yet they are not cute." That's for sure. A quick browse through his work shows that naturalism was never his goal.

3. ADAM BEDE BY GEORGE ELIOT // 1961

Adam Bede cover by James Hill
Courtesy of swallace99, Flickr

Why is Adam Bede's hand bigger than his face? And his arm bigger than his waist? What would George Eliot think?

This one is by James Hill, the first Canadian to become a member of the American Illustrators Association. His work ranged from lurid, pulpy book covers to treatments for classics like this one to a series of paintings inspired by Anne of Green Gables.

4. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT BY FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY // 1968

Crime and Punishment cover

Courtesy of Felt Books

The 1960s produced many psychedelic book covers, and this style spilled over into reprints of the classics. On this Dostoyevsky opus, a guy's face is replaced by a groovy rainbow with a figure in a coffin inside. While the artist is unknown, the rainbow design echoes the style of several graphic designers of the 1960s.

5. HARD TIMES BY CHARLES DICKENS // 1961

Hard Times cover
Courtesy of ElwoodAnd Eloise, Etsy

This cover for Charles Dickens's grim tale of Victorian inequality was designed by Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast's partner in Push Pin Studios. Glaser also designed the I Love New York logo and a Bob Dylan poster that depicts the singer with a rainbow 'fro. A versatile artist, his work includes logos, posters, interior design, magazine illustrations, and, of course, book covers. But here, the heavy cross-hatching on the figures' faces, hair, and clothes nudges them into werewolf territory. The psychedelic winged horse seems like a nod to the Summer of Love, but a tavern called the Pegasus's Arms actually figures prominently in the book.

This Pop Culture Guide to Proofreading Marks Will Help You Write the Perfect Essay

Pop Culture Lab
Pop Culture Lab

Regardless of your profession, proofreading is an important skill to know. A round of revisions will help you express yourself more clearly and eloquently, and penning a perfectly punctuated letter is an underrated art form. Proofreading marks will help you edit more efficiently, but navigating all those squiggles and dots can feel like learning a foreign language.

Here to help is Pop Chart Labs, which used pop culture references to create a fun guide to proofreading marks. As for the Oxford comma—whose use is hotly debated among punctuation purists—the chart makers rule in favor of it. “The movies Kill Bill, While You Were Sleeping, and 28 Days Later are all punctuated by important comas,” the comma section of the poster reads.

The chart
Pop Chart Lab

“I’m Ron Burgundy?” (an Anchorman reference) falls under the question mark category, and “Nobody puts baby in a corner” (Dirty Dancing) is given as an example of text centering.

“Let Beyonce teach you about flushing left (to the left), Italian stereotypes from The Simpsons illustrate ital-ics, Michael Scott portray the pain of having your edits and/or vasectomies reversed, and all too many Game of Thrones characters demonstrate deletion (warning: SPOILERS),” Pop Chart Lab writes in its description of the poster.

With this chart on your wall, you’ll never miss the mark. The 18-inch-by-24-inch poster costs $29 and is currently available for pre-order on Pop Chart Lab's website. Shipping starts October 3.

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