When my grandpa passed away earlier this year, one of the most painful things to do was go through all his crap. The man was a packrat, with loads of junk stashed here and there. One of his treasures, though, was a monster desk and credenza, and this is what I claimed to keep from his stuff (among other memorabilia).
I picked his desk for two reasons – one, it’s in awesome shape, and I had previously been using a fold-up plastic 8-foot banquet table with corkboard cabinet liner stuck to the top. It was the ultimate in function over form, to be sure, but admittedly looked extremely trashy. Second, I thought it was a fitting heirloom, given the things he taught me about work in the first place.
The desk, as I mentioned, is monstrous – that’s a 13” laptop shown in the first picture. In fact, I was unable to move it into my office in one piece – I had to actually dismantle it, down to 4 separate pieces, and then put it back together again. While putting it back together, I noticed a label inside the right-hand drawer, and decided to do some investigation into this new treasure, as I had zero information about when or where it was purchased.
The label showed that the desk was from Kimball – a quick Google informed me that Kimball Office is still around, still building high-end office furniture. I used the contact form on their website, but then also noticed that they have a Twitter account – @KimballOffice. I tweeted my interest to them, and within a few days, received an email from a girl named Abby – her email signature says she is in ‘Market Communicatons’. Abby volunteered to help me sort out some details about the desk, so I sent over a few photos of it, as well as photos of the serial numbers on the labels.
A few days later, Abby came back with some bad news – she was unable to determine exactly when or where the desk and credenza were purchased. However, by passing the photos I’d sent around the office, she was able to glean some information for me:
I’ve not got exact information for you because the serial number is too old for our current system or even the one before that. So, that tells me that the product was definitely produced before 1988. However, I’ve shown the pictures around to many people from manufacturing to marketing and the general consensus is that it is from our Kube product line, which was also called VIP. We stopped producing that product in 1997. I did find out that the top on this unit is a laminate that was called Sienna. The logo on the serial number is a logo that we haven’t used for many years, which then dates the product to the late 70s.
Still tons of things I’d love to know, like if Gawky custom-ordered this Sienna laminate, why on earth he purchased such a monstrous desk and credenza, and that sort of thing. However, thanks to Abby at Kimball Office, I now have a bit more insight into the history of my apparently 40-year-old desk set.
I’ve also learned that Kimball Office makes some AMAZINGLY well-built furniture. It’s nearly 40 years old and yet all of the original drawer hardware is still there, intact, working smoothly. The wood has not warped or discolored, and the laminate top isn’t coming up in any places at all on either piece of the set. I’m really extremely impressed with the quality, especially given how old it is and how many times the man moved around.