The “desk puzzle” belongs to that odd group of unprofessional products for professionals. They’re a paradox. It’s a kid in a three-piece suit. It’s a distraction when you should be focused. And so, to pull off a toy that calls your office desk home, you have to be careful. (You’d never see Don Draper, vexed over the tone of a Lucky Strike ad, pawing at a Newton’s cradle.) Enter Craighill, the NYC-based design company that deals mainly in milled steel and brass to produce, in their own words, “enduring objects that ignite a sense of wonder.” Their line of minimalist, tactile, and surprisingly difficult brain games are a pre-internet solution to distraction, blended with rare moments of blissed-out meditation. But what sets these puzzles apart — and sets them on our office desk — is that, while not in use, their beautiful exactness lends them a feeling of sculpture. These are works of art, best fiddled-with during a conference call.
1. Jack Puzzle:
Craighill’s first desk puzzle seems simple enough. Six notched brass bars interlock to create a classic “jack” shape. However, the puzzle, which measures 3” x 3” x 3” when assembled, is deceptive — the bars can only interlock in one specific way. (Hand-drawn instructions are included for the spatially challenged.)
2. Venn Puzzle:
Craighill’s latest puzzle is more abstract and requires a good deal more dexterity. The Venn Puzzle is comprised of three identical, die-cast stainless steel pieces. Completing the puzzle requires lining up six points simultaneously — without being able to see all six at the same time – to create a perfect sphere the size of a pool ball, but nearly five times the weight.
3. Continuous Innovation:
Craighill, founded in 2015, has a short but impressive history of pushing boundaries in the amorphous world of beautiful things to put on your desk. Their creative process is slow and exacting — they also sell a perfect cubic inch of Invar, the most dimensionally stable metal alloy in existence — but steady; their next iteration in the desk puzzle series, The Tycho Puzzle, is set to release early next year.