Personal decorations

Education | 13 Aug 2019

Brighten Youth Education Centre

Treasured items sometimes have a talismanic quality. It doesn't matter if mascots actually help students perform better in examinations. The important thing is the belief that they will help.

At the very least, such objects comfort us in our workspaces, an important factor when improving productivity.

Following last week's discussion on what clean and messy desks say about their occupants, we look at what random objects successful and influential people keep in the workspaces.

A corner of US president Donald Trump's Wall Street office houses a sneaker given to him by NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal.

Apparently it remains among Trump's most treasured possessions.

The basketball connection continues with LeBron James. The LA Lakes all-star keeps a replica Batman mask in his office.

Well, with an annual salary of over US$35 million (HK$273 million), he can decorate the place however he likes.

Fashion designer and president of Burberry Christopher Bailey keeps his chocolate craving away by stashing Maltesers (his favorite) in his desk, close to a Lego duck made by his niece.

Billionaire Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban also likes to maintain a family connection.

He works alongside a poster reading "Welcome Home Daddy" - given to him by his nine-year-old son after returning home following a hip replacement.

In the world of television, Saturday Night Live producer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Lorne Michaels has a dog-head inkwell sitting on his gift - a gift from actress and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon.

Oprah Winfrey, a fan of traditional mail, keeps a letter opener and all the necessary stationary for hand-crafted responses close at hand.

Jerry Bruckheimer also collects fountain pens, and has many of them on display in his office.

Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men and The Romanoffs, has a Tibetan prayer horn and a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven on his desk. Creators of South Park and Book of Mormon Matt Stone and Trey Parker work in a vortex of fried chicken containers and trashy pop culture references.

Duke University professor and author Dan Ariely fills his office with a range of different chairs, creating an inviting environment for his students because he believes the set up changes the nature of group discussions for the better.

Al Gore labors under a multicolored hanging of a frog, although fashion designer Carolina Herrera takes the prize for wall art: she is watched by a 1979 Andy Warhol portrait of herself.

The objects people choose to add beauty and grace to their working environment are always interesting, helping to balance mood and improve mental health.

As Kimberly Elsbach, professor of organizational behavior at the UC Davis, argues, when people are allowed to personalize an office space with pictures and mementos, they work better together as teams. Students given the same freedom may well enjoy the same benefits.

If you have any questions about our column, or the issues raised within it, please e-mail them to us:

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