December 17, 2018

Desk Differences

For the past year journalist and storyteller Christian Hauska worked on a photo documentary about ambassadors’ place of work.

By Christian Hauska.

Embassies and consulates are mysterious. You cannot just walk in. They are usually surrounded by fences, heavy locks, cameras and guards. In order to give off the aura of representation, embassies are often found in splendid buildings, in front of which the country’s flag blows in the wind.

Entering the building feels like walking off a gangway after a long flight just as if stepping foot into another country for the first time. Furniture, smell, paintings, strange sounding voices confront you all at once. It seems as though you have traveled a long journey within just a short moment.

Each of these desks is different.

Each of these desks marks the end of a small journey.

The center of these buildings is not the staircase, not the secretary’s office, not even a conference room. It is the ambassador’s or consul’s office, more precisely it is the ambassadors‘ desk. A desk which is covered with screens, keyboards, newspapers, writing utensils, and documents of all sorts.

Made of wood, metal, glass or plastic, it is usually surrounded by country specific interiors. Sometimes, the desks are properly tidied up with books in place running parallel to the grain of the wood while others are left behind in a state of chaos due to hectic circumstances.

Albania’s desk.


A desk, embedded in a room filled with Albanian art. The center of an embassy in which six diplomats regulate the interests of 1,500 Albanians in the Netherlands. The natural light entering through the skylight illuminates the ambassador‘s desk.

The white candle does not need to be lit. For almost 20 years, the desk has been the property of the Albanian foreign representation. In 1998, for the opening of the embassy building, the piece of furniture was purchased.

Its location allows a clear view of the room. Each Albanian accessory can enjoy its adequate free space.

Canada’s desk.


A desk that was being used and left just for this photo in the middle of some thought. The glass surface is covered with documents, a newspaper, and a Dutch language textbook.

The warm wood paneling stands in stark contrast to the bright furniture and an elephant that has just managed to get into the picture.


Estonia’s desk.


The ambassador‘s desk was purchased when the Embassy moved in 2006. On its way to the Netherlands, the desk did not have to cross the Baltic states. Rather it had to cross the Alps coming from Italy.

Distinctive lines and the deep brown varnish harmonize with the rest of the furnishings and exude a sense of calmness.

This seems to have even soothed the table flag, in contrast to its siblings in front of the building.

Malta’s desk.


Peace reigns over this desk inspired by the well known building visible through the window. If this order is threatened, the tipp-ex is ready to eliminate disruptive factors.

The Maltese Embassy is located in a former cinema. A glance outside reminds us of a film backdrop.


Panama’s desk.


Acquired in 2013 in the Netherlands, this desk is the Ambassador‘s daily object of work. Made of oak wood, framed by a national flag, a PC, and a telephone, this desk probably knows nothing of its uncertain future.

The current ambassador would like to change the desk for a more modern piece of furniture after four years of state service.


Slovenia’s desk.


The Ambassador‘s desk conveys a secret referring to its origin. Although it is suspected that the piece of furniture was transported many kilometers by truck from Slovenia to The Hague, one is not certain.

It is estimated to be about 17 years old. Angular shapes alternate with slight curves. Dark brown lines in the wood create a border for the collection of working materials.


Sweden’s desk.


Like a blanket, paper, cups and writing utensils lie on this desk or better said desks. Even the burning lamp does not make the Swedish design objects more visible. The tables imported from Sweden by means of a truck in 2004 are made of multiplex plywood.

Like the islands Utö and Ornö, the two desks stand side by side connected by work.


Switzerland’s desk.


Although the Netherlands and Switzerland are not separated by a sea, this desk has traveled by ship to The Hague. It has called this historic building on the Lange Vorhout its home for two years now.

Desk and interior form a strong contrast. In the glow of the desk lamp, there is a writing instrument, just put down and left amid the fragrance of yellow roses.


Thailand’s desk.


The Thai Ambassador‘s desk can be found in a house that is more than 120 years old. It was used as the residence up until 30 years ago. The desk, about 10 years old, has not crossed an ocean, at least not since it was manufactured. It was produced in the Netherlands and is made of plywood. The Ambassador is busy working at that desk nine to five and beyond. Behind the desk are photos of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit who reigned the Kingdom of Thailand at the time when this photo was taken.

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