What's on Paul Corrigan's Desk at Barkley

The executive design director's collection of mementos

I've been many things in my professional career: illustrator, designer, art director, storyteller and part-time banjo maker. I'm currently executive design director at Barkley in Kansas City, where I lead a talented team in living out a vision for what we call Capital "D" Design. 

I haven't intentionally designed my desk space; at least not in the formal sense. But I think every object I keep has been kept with intention. They all have their own story. Some are better than others. But the aggregate experience—the sum of them all together—gives some indication of what I'm all about.

At Barkley, we like to say Capital D (Design) solves problems, and little d (design) adds beauty. I don't know where my desk lands on that spectrum. But I'd like to think it's some odd combination of both. 

Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy the tour.

Bigfoot doodles

There's a nagging little story in my head about a modern-day Sasquatch who finds himself in the unlikely role of humanity's last big chance—alongside an even more unlikely accomplice.

It's a shifting collection of ideas that I hope to someday pull together into some sort of visual story. Until then, I'll have to settle for these piles of random drawings.

The Olivetti portable

This was my dad's typewriter for more than 20 years in the Air Force. It went around the world with him. I remember typing my first stories on it when I was a kid. 

I've always been attracted to its design. I like the smell of metal and oil and inky ribbon from under its cover. And I love the sounds it makes. It turns writing into a physical thing. And it forces me to commit and be OK with whatever I'm laying down in the moment. 

Edits can happen later.

The DEPTH rock

I hang on to a number of physical props from old shoots. This rock was part of a video sequence, and was shown sinking to the bottom of a big fish aquarium. I keep it around because a) it's cool looking, and b) it reminds me not to think too deeply about things. My favorite ideas are the opposite of heavy. 

Required reading

Three books that couldn't be more different from each other: Tsunetomo's Hagakure, Munari's Square Circle Triangle, and Bielenberg's Think Wrong.

The red stool

I feel locked into my desk with regular office chairs, which isn't something I want. I do a lot of moving around on any given day. That's why I like this little red stool. I can swivel and push off and roll over to someone else whenever the need arises (or when I don't feel like walking). 

It's like a skateboard for my butt. 

Sorry about that. 

How to Contact Space People

Early self-publishing at its finest. You don't have to actually read this book to appreciate it. I haven't, and do.

Fat Japanese brush pens

I used to be all about precision with my notes and doodles. Nowadays, I'm more into these fat Japanese brush pens. I like how gestural they force me to be; putting ideas onto paper in a more permanent, unapologetic way.

How to Win Prize Contests

It's always good to have Plan B ready, just in case Plan A hits the fan.


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Paul Corrigan
Paul Corrigan is executive design director at Barkley in Kansas City.

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