September 3, 2020No Comments

Want to be a guest writer on DESK?

We occasionally invite guest writers to share their perspectives on DESK. If you're interested in contributing an article, please read the following before reaching out to us.

Since its inception in 2016, DESK has sought to challenge and motivate the creative community.

We aim to make sense of design through everything else – art, fashion, culture, psychology, productivity philosophy, music, technology.

Finding outside perspectives and challenging our own way of thinking is inherent to DESK's philosophy. That's where you come in.

How to write for DESK

Before submitting your idea, please read this article detailing DESK's core values. We also ask that you read a few of our other essays and articles before submitting your idea, to ensure they're a good fit for our audience.

The DESK voice

If we invite you to write for DESK, we look forward to you sharing your own unique voice with our readers. However, we do expect it to align with our magazine's ovarching style. You can read about the DESK voice right here.

Interested in promoting your product?

If you'd like to share your product with the DESK audience or include backlinks to your own content, please read about our paid partnership offerings. We do not include backlinks outside of a considered paid partnership that fits our readers' interests.

How to submit your pitch

Please send an email to with the article headline and a brief outline summary, including the main points and takeaways, for our editorial team to review.

September 3, 2020No Comments

The DESK voice

While several different people write for DESK in their own unique voices, we've established a distinct voice we filter all our writing through. It is:


We don’t know everything, and that’s exciting. We probe and pose questions rather than stating absolute truths. We challenge mainstream thinking without taking an authoritative or patronizing tone. We share our opinion confidently, understanding we may very well be wrong.


We state things as they are, without hyperbole or sensationalism. We are not afraid to get personal or address topics others might dance around. We don’t write for clicks or share disingenuous praise for payment.

Unassuming & accessible

English is a second language for many of our readers, which requires we sharpen our message and write in the clearest way possible. Plus, we just don’t like fluff and bullshit. We are plain-spoken. We avoid colloquialisms. We don’t try to impress with our intellect or use fancy synonyms when a more simple word would do.

While we want to inspire and write beautifully, we never do so at the expense of clarity.


We may get satirical but we are not cynical. We seek to challenge the creative community to think deeper and do better, not to shame them. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and look for any chance we get to make our readers smile. The language we use is motivating, hopeful and sincere.

Interested in writing an essay, article or tutorial for DESK? Start here.

May 11, 2020No Comments

DESK partnerships

Sometimes we work with paid partners to introduce products we use and love to DESK readers.

So far, we’ve helped companies like Nike, Figma, Microsoft, Airtable and Adobe reach their goals and connect with our creative audience.

If you think your company or product would be a good fit for DESK readers, send an email to and ask for our media kit.

We’d love to brainstorm ideas with you.

October 3, 2019No Comments

iPhone 11 “TSA” Wallpaper

Little iPhone wallpaper for your new iPhone 11 PRO (regular size). I admit I just did this really quick (don't judge) so I can have it for my own phone. Feel free to use it for your own and hope you enjoy it.

You can download it right here.

Preview below.


August 26, 2019No Comments

The dilemma for small product teams

As a small team working on a product, you face an eternal conflict: When do you focus on adding features, which adds value to your product, and when do you focus on fixing bugs?

Every week a small team pivots to fix bugs and clean up the product, you are not working on new features that improve your current offering, making your existing users happy and bringing new ones. But wait on those bugs too long and you’re sacrificing the integrity of the product. Any perceived value is lost when someone clicks a button and gets an error. Large product teams can afford to do it all. They can simultaneously bug fix and build new features to keep their product moving forward. For a small product team, it’s a balancing act.

In New York, the impending shutdown of the L train was dreaded city-wide. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy flooded the Canarsie Tunnel, causing severe damage to the train system. When it was announced the L train would be shut down for 15 months to make serious repairs, the entire city went into panic mode. The L line connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. Thousands of people ride it every day to commute to work and back. Shutting down the L and re-routing these people would not only be inconvenient and expensive, but it would also disrupt the entire flow of the city. 

Talk to anyone in New York and they could tell how you how the imminent #lpocolypse would affect their life negatively. Yet these repairs were necessary to keep the L train running into the foreseeable future, and to keep people safe. Keep it going as-is and the public is at risk, and the issues eventually become irreparable. Fixing the “bugs” was unavoidable, despite bringing the entire city to a literal halt. 

Then, this year, the local government found a solution that eliminated the need for a complete shutdown. New tech became available that will allow the train to keep running, for the most part, while the city fixes it. Some night and weekend closures will still be necessary but compared to the alternative, nobody could complain. The collective relief throughout the city was palpable. 

On hopefully rare occasions, a shutdown is necessary for your product. If you can’t significantly improve it while keeping your existing product alive, you have no choice but to pause and rebuild, accepting the consequences in the meantime. But more often, you can find a middle ground. Your existing users, after all, are the ones who will use and support anything new you create.

Smart product teams see two or three years down the line and plan smart, strategic sprints that strike a balance. Smart product teams strive for the solution that keeps their audience moving forward in the tunnel. 

April 16, 2018No Comments

How to Get a Job at Virgin Atlantic

I've been a big fan of Virgin Atlantic for a long time now.  If you've ever flown with Virgin, I'm sure you understand why.

Virgin Atlantic creates an experience for their passengers, from their excellent customer service to the mood lighting on their flights. The Virgin brand just feels cool, and I know a lot of loyal Virgin fliers agree. So naturally, I wanted to know what it's like working on the awesome Virgin brand as a designer — and how we might get a design job on his team. I reached out to Michael Stephens, the head of creative & brand at Virgin Atlantic, and he was kind enough to answer all my questions.

First, please tell us a little about yourself and what you do at Virgin Atlantic.

I joined Virgin Atlantic in January 2018 to head up the talented internal creative and design team, which sits within the wider marketing function. As a brand guardian I’ll work alongside our numerous creative agencies to develop and future proof the brand’s visual identity and tone of voice across multiple channels. I collaborate with all areas of the business on both external and internal comms, ensuring that whatever we do it feels Virgin.

Looking at your current design team, how many of them came through internal referrals or headhunting, and how many came through the traditional application process?

I’d say it’s a mix really. We’re always keen as a business to retain talent and promote within where possible but we also understand that in order to acquire new multidisciplinary skills and develop the department’s capabilities, we might need to look externally.

Say we decide to reach out with a cold email. What kind of message gets a reply? Any secrets for us?

We’re always on the lookout for new blood. We welcome applications from talented people who are passionate about what they do and massively encourage proactive behavior. My advice? Go on, be brave and just do it.

How important is a complete portfolio? Can we get away with not having a portfolio when interviewing at Virgin?

A well structured and thought-out portfolio is hugely important. It’s the first thing I look at! We’re a company that cares a lot about design and aesthetics, so fundamentally the work has to speak for itself.

"A portfolio isn’t just a documentation of all the work you’ve produced to date; it should be adapted with time."

Tell us one thing you never want to see again on a portfolio. Anything you wish you saw more?

A portfolio isn’t just a documentation of all the work you’ve produced to date; it should be adapted with time. It needs curating bespoke to the prospective client to ensure relevancy both in terms of content and aesthetic, to demonstrate your understanding of the business. It should be annotated to provide clarity where necessary but not take hours to read through — keep it visual, please.

Besides having a portfolio, do you like the idea of designers being invested in other interests? For example being active bloggers or otherwise outspoken in their community?

Totally! I want my team to have a personal opinion as well as to feel connected to and influenced by what’s going on around them in the world. Virgin has a global reputation for being a rule breaker and a rebel. As creatives I think we all need to channel a bit of that in our lives.


Say I make the first pass and get invited to an interview. Can you describe the interview process as briefly as possible?

We’ll normally first invite you to our head office for an informal chat. It’s a chance for you to talk through your portfolio in person, see our work environment and get a feel for whether or not we are the right cultural fit. Depending on the level of seniority we may then do behavioral assessments, design tasks or ask you to meet other team members. As a member of the creative team you’ll engage with stakeholders of all levels across the entire business. At Virgin we like to keep interviews casual though, so don’t wear a tie!

"A good portfolio should merely support a great designer in an interview. We like to engage so please don’t look and talk into your iPad."

What are the biggest mistakes you see designers make when applying for a job at Virgin? Are there any specific things that keep bothering you? Please complain to us!

Don’t rely on me to do the work; you should be in control. A good portfolio should merely support a great designer in an interview. We like to engage so please don’t look and talk into your iPad.

Do you remember a specific application that impressed you?

It’s a cliché but sometimes when I set a design task it’s not just about giving me what I want, but perhaps what I don’t want. At Virgin we like to push the boundaries so be creative — surprise and delight! Whether that’s going the extra mile with your design task and producing something physical / digital or it’s doing some more in-depth research and demonstrating in the interview your understanding of the business / industry.

Does that mean we should do something crazy to get your attention? Prototype our own Virgin app or uniform design, maybe?

I’m not sure crazy is quite what we’re looking for, but certainly outside of the ordinary and full of personality. We are essentially an internal creative agency so pitching to stakeholders is often part of the process. It’s sometimes worth showing work on a gradient of safe to radical. That way you can put the client at ease initially and then hopefully sell in your more progressive ideas.

We imagine as a designer at Virgin, you’re working on everything from marketing and digital design to the physical customer experience. What are the secondary skills Virgin looks for in a designer, besides common soft skills? What range of skills do you want to see?

You need to understand our point of difference. What makes us unique and amazing as a business? Spotting those opportunities to stand out and make us famous is a skill we can never have enough of. The creatives in my team all need to do three key things: 1. Have great ideas. 2. Produce beautiful work and 3. Tell a coherent brand story.

Would Virgin hire someone who is a cultural fit over someone who has more industry experience and hard skills?

A cultural fit is a must, and your skills certainly need to fully equip you for the job at hand. Experience however is something that could set you apart as we really like having teams from different industry backgrounds, whether it’s a magazine, a website, a store, a fashion label or an airline. I personally came from a fashion background having never worked in aviation previously. Before, I worked at i-D, Vice, Liberty and Ted Baker. There were clear brand personality links to Virgin — all the brands were British, bold, colorful, glam, eccentric, rebellious and a little bit cheeky.

One of your new job postings is design manager. Is an internship a good way to get our foot in the door with Virgin? How often do internships turn into full-time jobs?

This is the first time we’ve introduced an internship opportunity within the creative team and it’s really exciting. I know how hard it was to get that first job after university (countless applications and interviews) so I was keen to create a role that specifically targeted recent graduates. It’s only a 12 month contract but this gives the designer a great foundation to understand the business, make connections and present themselves as potentially the perfect candidate should a permanent role become available.

Virgin is headquartered in the UK and all current creative job postings are located there. Do you ever hire remote designers for your team? What about international hires?

Although we do have other offices internationally, the creative team is currently based in the UK. We do however work with several freelance artists and photographers on a global scale.

How do you think Virgin is different when hiring new talent compared to other airlines?

We’re not looking for ordinary – after all, we’re no ordinary airline.


Thanks so much, Michael! We appreciate you taking the time and giving us these insights. Here are a few key takeaways:

Nr. 1 - Be bold and make an impression.

Virgin is all about creating a culture and experience. That goes for the design team too. Don't be afraid to show your personality – in fact, make it a point to do so. Whether you're trying to make a connection via email or you've scored an-person interview, be confident and show you understand the Virgin brand. Your personality might be the most important factor in getting the job.

Nr. 2 - Curate and update your portfolio.

Not only does Virgin want to see a portfolio of your work, but they expect it to be curated for their aesthetic and the position. Michael came from a fashion background so you don't necessarily need airline brand experience, but showing experience with a relevant brand or style makes a difference.

Nr. 3 - Virgin is hiring for their creative design team!

Check out these open positions Michael shared with us, including a brand new internship role:

Creative Design Manager

Senior Digital Designer

Design Intern

Content Producer

If do get a job on the Virgin design team, please let me know. I would be very happy for you and jealous of you (:

That's all for now! If you're looking for a design job, be sure to read our other How to Get a Job at X interviews with admirable companies like Nike, Spotify, Pentagram and lots more. And tweet me at @vanschneider if you have a dream design job and want to see a specific company in the series!

March 28, 2017No Comments

How to get a job at X

Sorry, but this interview is not available anymore.

But that's okay, there are many other interesting interviews with companies who love to share their knowledge and love to hire you.

For example, Nike, Electronic Arts, Refinery29, Airbnb or even Pentagram. And don't forget, there are many more coming within the next couple weeks.

Stay awesome & Happy job hunting,

March 6, 2017No Comments

Best of The Week, March 6th

Oh wow, what a week! Same for you? Tell me something new & exciting! This is one of those weekly emails where instead of sharing you one article, I share with you a couple things to get your week started the right way, just to mix it up a bit.

There is just too much to talk about for this week, and I want to share it all with you. Maybe one of those things catches your eye

Nr.1 - The new "How to get a job at Company X" article series. First up, Airbnb.

Yessss, I'm currently in the process of writing a new article series on my blog about how to land a job at Company X. And with company X I mean a list of companies I admire and you asked for.

Starting the series, in just this moment I published "How to get a Design job at Airbnb". I hope you will enjoy this new article series and get some value out of them.

Any companies you want me to cover? Send me a quick tweet!

Nr.2 - Shoe Dog, the story of Nike by Phil Knight

I just finished the book called "Shoe Dog"* written by Phil Knight, Ex-CEO and founder of Nike. I enjoyed the book so much I had to share it with you here. I picked it up and couldn't put it down anymore, often reading it for 3-4 hours in one sit down. Phil Knights writing style is almost poetic and calming. And on top, the whole story of Nike is just madness and highly inspiring. And even if you're "put off" by Nike due to the "sweatshop scandal" a couple years ago, I'd recommend the book even more because it also talks about just that.

Nr.3 - 8 Tips to stay on top of your freelance finances

As part of my new "Freelance Life" series I write together with Nika, we published another piece of, this time talking about some tips & tricks to stay in control of your finances. Even as a non freelance these little nuggets might be helpful to you. And if not, you probably know a struggling freelance, feel free to forward it to them (:

Nr.4 - The Anxiety of Alone time

Another article we had in the pipeline, written together with the lovely Lizzy now on my blog. To sum it up, here is one of my favorite quotes from the article: “In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.”

I'm pretty sure you may be able to relate.

Nr.5 - Currently reading: Sapiens

Right now I'm reading a book called "Sapiens"* which essentially goes through the most important milestones of human history, but does so as brief and factual as possible. It's another one of those books I just can't put down. I will probably be done with it by end of this week & will catch up with a short review.

What else happened?

- I made the jump. Signed up to my first week for HelloFresh. (If you're curious too, use this link to get $40 off, this helped me make the jump too). Hello Fresh is like food delivery subscription, but you still cook yourself. Never tried it before, I'll report back.

- I looked at new InEar headphones. Found these for $999 and wondered holy shit, how must they sound? Obviously I didn't buy them but opted for the $99 version instead. Will let you know how I like them.

- After heavy back pain lately, I'm now trying a standing desk setup at home. (My Instagram story from today shows a picture of that self made mess)

- I started running again last week. I feel like I live in a 50 year old body.

Thank you very much once again for reading and I wish you a wonderful new week and a Happy Monday.

Stay awesome,

November 14, 2016No Comments

Weekly Edition Nr.76

I think we can all agree this was a difficult week, especially for my friends living in the United States. But if you already know me, I usually try to stay away from talking about politics.

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November 7, 2016No Comments

Staying Busy & the Post VR Sadness


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April 26, 2016No Comments

No Sugar, No Carbs

This post was written last year and started as an experiment.

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