Crank it up

PHOTO Adriaan Louw WORDS Michelle Coburn

Master of invention Joe Paine has created a mechanical space-saving desk perfect for laptop users.

Trust this Joburg-based designer to find his inspiration in rusting, discarded 19th-century farm machinery – and then to create a compact, characterful design of Cape teak, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and mild steel that the trendiest urbanite will covet. 

Joe Paine’s Mechanical Bureau uses a system of gears and cranks to open and close the desk. Turn the handle to lift the top, and a rack and pinion pushes the timber worktop out towards you, giving you a larger work surface. When you’ve put in your hours, simply close the lid to hide the laptop. Small workspaces never looked this good.

Available from Southern Guild, R30 100, 044 877 0719,

Joe Paine 072 200 1803,

Our content director, Sumien Brink, nominated the desk for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2013. SMS “MBOISA Paine” to 43431 to vote for it or view the other finalists here.

Don’t forget that you can win a Joe Paine planter by subscribing to our daily newsfeed by midnight on Thursday 28 February.