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UC's New One-Of-A-Kind Furniture Unit Saves Space, Money and Students' Style

Convertible dresser-desk combination gives students more control to personalize their living spaces.

Date: 8/8/2013 2:51:00 PM
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Lisa Ventre/UC Creative Services

UC ingot   It's a familiar concern for college students living in residence halls: Getting all their stuff to fit in their room. At the University of Cincinnati, that’s recently become much less of an issue.
dresser desk combo desktop
The University of Cincinnati's new dresser-desk combination - seen here inside Morgens Hall - is a first of its kind and is drawing interest from other universities.

A new dresser-desk combination designed by the UC staff will go a long way toward ensuring students have the freedom to personalize their living space without cramping their style or their quarters. UC's Housing & Food Services (H&FS) created the first-of-its-kind furnishing in collaboration with Blockhouse Contract Furniture, which has applied for a patent on the unit.

Here's what sets it apart from anything else you'll find on the market: Hidden within what appears to be a typical dresser is a study desk. A gentle pull on one side of the dresser allows the desktop to glide into position, and an easy push conceals the desk again.

The two-in-one combo introduces an item that is an original in the campus housing industry and is already drawing interest from universities nationwide. An agreement between the University of Cincinnati and Blockhouse will provide UC with 4 percent of the net sales of the dresser-desk unit for the next 10 years.

UC's newly renovated Morgens Hall will be the first residence hall anywhere to feature the innovative furniture, and Blockhouse says it already has received orders from other schools.

"Reaction from peers in housing has been, 'Wow!'" says Todd Duncan, director of H&FS.

Not only does the unique concept save space, it also saves money. Replacing a separate desk and dresser with the purchase of one furniture item – a $200 reduction in cost – saved UC more than $90,000 on the Morgens project. The new design will hit the market in a full rollout next year and already has been nominated for recognition as Innovation of the Year with the National Association for College Auxiliary Services.
dresser desk combo pair
The expandable desktop of the dresser-desk combination can easily slide back into place, as seen at right.

Duncan and Associate Director of Housing Carl Dieso developed the idea for the combo unit when they were looking for ways to save space and money on the Morgens renovation. They hoped to create something smaller but just as durable as the typical desk in housing units that also would give students greater flexibility with room layout. After reviewing multiple prototypes, they settled on the final design which features:

  • three drawers, with the top drawer capable of being secured with a private lock
  • a built-in surge protector with three electrical outlets and two USB ports
  • a 9-foot electrical cord to allow for convenient desk location
  • oak wood construction
  • a scratch-resistant laminate top


This video offers a step-by-step walk-through of the new dresser-desk combo's features.