Desk setup videos are huge on YouTube, and they’re just getting started - The Verge
Creators showing off their home offices and desk setups have become hugely popular on YouTube, especially as the world adjusts to remote work. But how long can this keep up?
It all started — for me at least — with a desk mat. In the early days of the pandemic, like millions of others, I was suddenly working from home every day and needed to turn a tiny corner of my living room into a usable home office. I wanted to buy a desk mat so my keyboard and mouse wouldn’t slide around or scratch up my desk. I bought the cheapest one I could find on Amazon, but it was too small. A bigger one started to pill and tear almost immediately.
So I turned to YouTube, and I started watching desk setup videos. And for the next couple of years, I’ve really never stopped. I watched as more creators entered the space, looking for inventive new ways to help viewers deck out their own spaces — large, small, cheap, luxurious, and everything in between. I watched as small creators suddenly became big creators, landing sponsorship deals with the companies behind the products in their videos. I watched as a certain aesthetic, with dark walls and natural wood and Apple products — always Apple products — everywhere, took over the space. I watched even well after I needed any help in my own home office.
Even as many people go back to the office, DeskTube (as I like to call it) continues to thrive. Remote work obviously isn’t going away, and the pandemic has also made people much more aware of the spaces they occupy and how they can be better. Plus, there’s just something delightful — and even sort of soothing — about watching someone show you the way they’ve perfectly optimized their space. It says, yes, the world is chaos, but in this tiny part of it that I control, everything can be in its right place. And that counts for something.
Showing off your sick workspace is a longtime mainstay of internet culture. Gamers around the world have gone to subreddits like r/battlestations (and r/shittybattlestations) to find inspiration for their own RGB setups and PC builds. Pinterest is teeming with beautifully curated desks looking out at gorgeous views. And if you’re a creator on the internet, it’s practically a job requirement to post the view from your chair so your audience can picture you on the job — and steal the magic for themselves. Heck, go back far enough, and even Albert Einstein’s messy desk was an object of fascination.
DeskTube is not a new phenomenon, nor is it a pandemic-created one. “I think the first [setup video] I did was in 2013,” says Justin Tse, a longtime tech YouTuber who has become one of the best-known desk setup creators. Tse, then just a teenager, had spent a bunch of time and energy building out a gaming and work desk — MacBook Pro, Asus monitors, Logitech keyboard and mouse, a nifty “history of Apple” poster — and thought it’d be cool to show people. That first setup tour came about 15 months and dozens of videos into the life of his channel but almost immediately became one of his biggest ever videos. So a bit over a year later, Tse made another one, with some big upgrades: an Apple Thunderbolt Display, a Samsung monitor, and a Mac Pro. That one hit, too. So he made more. And more.