Designing the XL Desk Shelf
The desk shelf system is our classic workspace solution—we originally designed it in 2017, but we're always thinking about it, always playing with ways to improve it. Here we talk through our decision to go for the gusto and design the desk shelf, XL.
Power Users
Like any good product design story, this one begins with an unmet need. We have power users who have a lot of gear, a lot of desk space, or both. The thing about things is that they’re hard to wrangle. We needed to make a power shelf to rise to the occasion. Or in this case, stretch to the occasion.
Small medium and large desk trays with varying sizes compartments, pulled out from a maple desk shelf.
Because even though we considered stacking shelves and adding height, we went with elongation, a decision that allowed us to check several boxes at once. More on that later.
Bringing it Back
When we redesigned the original desk shelf, we made the difficult decision to get rid of the garage space.

This enabled us to put a full-length second shelf in, but it was a hard trade-off.

KEN TOMITA (Grovemade Co-Founder): It’s always a little painful to take something away.

SEAN KELLY (Lead Designer): So we were always thinking about how we could bring that space back.

We realized that the XL shelf gave us an opportunity to do it. It felt good to come back to that open end and close the loop, bringing us full circle to a desk shelf that allows both Space and Shelf to exist.

KEN TOMITA (Grovemade Co-Founder): This new one has the best of both worlds. And the proportions are even better visually.

Size Up
So what did we do to nail the design?

As usual we set our parameters. This shelf had to work on a 60-inch desk, which is one of the most common sizes we see.
It also needed to fit in with the Desk Shelf System identity, a requirement that ended up being pretty straightforward to meet.

KEN TOMITA (Grovemade Co-Founder): Usually we can’t make something bigger and call it good. It looks weird. But the XL stayed proportional, with a symmetry in layout, and asymmetry in function.

As we ran through prototypes, we found that we could lengthen the shelf without having to fully redesign the whole thing. The XL carries the same aesthetic and DNA as the others.

The shelf is a house and the double garage is the addition.

Lead Product Designer
Like we noted earlier, we did consider bigger changes. Creating a higher, stacked shelf for example. But this brought in additional complications and didn’t pack as much visual punch for us as the longer desk shelf did.
It’s a graceful silhouette that almost floats on the desk, not least thanks to the wings that we spent a good amount of energy getting just right.

Plus, did we mention the double garage? The garage is back everyone!
Fun Things
One thing we love about designing products? The surprises that arise when you put them into use.
For example, the Mac Studio fits *just* perfectly into the garage. Sean’s X-Acto pencil sharpener also fits just perfectly. He keeps it tucked in there all day, everyday.
And that’s just the garage. The shelf as a whole holds up well for all sorts of devices, and plenty of them. Your ultra-wide monitor looks proportional on there, with ample space left for speakers, or phone docks, or plants, or a combination of them.
We never know what fun things we’ll discover next.
Every End is a Beginning
We love the XL shelf. We see it and use it everyday, and it never gets old.

I’d recommend it for anyone with a big enough space. And if you have a 72-inch desk, I’d highly recommend it for a knockout shelf-to-desk ratio.

We feel attached to it and all its lengthy versatility. And still, there’s forever the prospect of tinkering, flexing. Changing the lines here, adding some curves there. In short, let’s all stay tuned!
Shop the Desk Shelf System
Whatever size you need for your workspace—pair it with a desk pad and a tray for a jazzy workspace trio.

Further Reading