10 Easy Pieces: Old-School Metal Office Supplies to Keep You Organized

Peer beyond Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in the old movie The Desk Set, and what you see are the silent stars: typewriters, in-out boxes, and Rolodexes in shades of gray. These office essentials are practical and durable—and weighty, too, because they’re made of steel.

We like the industrial (plastic-free) look of old-fashioned desk basics and have been happy to discover that many are still in production: Why change a good thing? We’ve also been noting inventive new workspace accessories in metal—in a range of colors, gray included. Here are 10 standouts for getting down to business in no-nonsense style.

The George and Willy Daily Roller, a wall-hung roll of kraft paper.
Above: From George & Willy of Tauranga, New Zealand, the Daily Roller, $98, a wall-hung roll of kraft paper, is ideal for keeping lists. It comes in black or white powder-coated aluminum and other sizes as well. The metal bar on the bottom allows you to make a clean tear.
Bunbuku of Japan wastebasket from Mur Lifestyle.
Above: Bunbuku of Japan has been making its tapered steel Waste Baskets since the 1960s. June Home Supply offers them in white or black, and in small, $36.60, or large, $61 (shown).
Block metal tape dispenser from Present and Correct, London
Above: From Present & Correct in the London, the steel Block Tape Dispenser, £38 each, holds rolls up to one-inch wide, and can be wall-mounted.
Ellepi Colored Metal Clips as part of the Remodelista Storage 75 Series
Above: From Ellepi, a 40-year-old Milan stationery company, these colorful powder-coated steel clips have been enjoying a revival. We featured them in Remodelista: The Organized Home as part of our 75 storage essentials. You can find them at FindTape, starting at $3.98 for the small (pictured). In addition to gathering paper, we use the clips for corralling cords and keeping chip bags closed. To see Ellepi’s full palette and inquire about more retailers, go to Sweet Bella USA. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Pin Dot Metal Organizer at Schoolhouse
Above: Each painted steel Pin Dot Metal Organizer measures 11.25 by 3 by 13.5 inches; $54.99 each at Schoolhouse.

Bisley Five-Drawer Cabinet as part of the Remodelista Storage 75 Series
Above: Another favorite from Remodelista: The Organized Home—the British-made, solid-steel Bisley Five-Drawer Cabinet is $99—and available in a dozen colors—from the Container Store. For drawer-free desks, it’s a godsend—and also great for storing art supplies, makeup,  jewelry, cutlery, and more. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Perry bookends by Most Modest.
Above: Most Modest, an SF studio specializing in “craft-inspired” tech supplies, makes its Perry bookends from powder-coated bent steel. They come in five colors; $35 per pair.
Dux aluminum pencil sharpener.
Above: Dux of Germany has been making precision pencil sharpeners since 1908. Drilled from a solid block of aluminum, the Dux Double Hole Aluminum Sharpener (shown) is an industrial design classic. It’s $42.99 from art supplier The Thackery, which also offers a lineup of crank-style sharpeners, including the cast metal Caran d’Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine; $176.99.

French Made Desk Pad at Garrett Wade
Above: Made in Paris in a workshop built by Gustave Eiffel, these Metal-Backed Desk Pads come with 200 blank, perforated sheets. The metal frame has brass locking nuts and low profile rubber feet to ensure it stays put on desks. Available in two sizes at Garrett Wade; $37.90 and $41.50.

N.B.: This post has been updated with new pricing information; it was first published August 2019.

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