Searching for the Perfect Desk Mat

My recommendation for the most high-tech, and most classical quality, from Journey, and Lundi Paris.

Courtesy of Lundi
Lundi Lilio desk mat. Courtesy of Lundi

Of all the items on a desk, the least interesting—the humble desk mat—is among the hardest to find a quality sample of. It sounds too simple to go wrong. It’s a rectangle of leather, felt, or synthetic fabric made to sit on a desk to glide your mouse across, comfort your wrist, and hold your keyboard.

The reality, however, is a lot harder.

Felt desk mats look pretty on their first use but quickly show wear, and though this is fixable, the pilling largely isn’t, as strands progressively peel off. Beyond being ugly, larger strands can frustratingly impede the movement of your mouse, and this seems to affect even the more premium options on the market.

Synthetic weaves do better here, but I’ve found them to mark even worse, looking awfully cheap when they do, and they feel less pleasant underhand. No matter the price, they all look like the standard office desk mat that you’re handed at the start of a job. The one advantage here is that some brands offer versions with pleasant graphic design or art on them.

Finally, leather desk mats look like they should be the simplest to search for, being such a timeless look, but not all leathers are made the same. Even though the prices are always premium, worse options can wear a lot quicker than you’d hope.

Journey Alti Ultra desk mat.
Journey Alti Ultra desk mat. Courtesy of Journey

In the last few years, I’ve tried a vast range, but my recommendations come down to just two options: a smart version from Journey and a classic one from Lundi Paris.

To start with the smart option, Journey’s Alti Ultra is a wide desk mat consisting of coated leather on one side and soft wool on the other, and the gap in between can be used to slot papers that you’re working on. The felt here is fine though it did start peeling as usual, so I would certainly stick to using the leather side. It’s not fantastic—the faux-skin look printed onto the surface of the coating just looks tacky rather than tasteful—but it’s proven fairly resistant to dirt and drinks alike, and it’s a good wide size.

The recommendation, though, comes courtesy of its neat trick: the matching dual wireless charger that sticks magnetically to the side of the mat. The top charger is a recessed rectangle made for charging earbuds, and the lower charger in the bottom center of the charger is raised for phones and comes equipped with MagSafe. Always having your earbuds and phone charging right beside you as you work is so convenient, and once you use it, it’s hard to go back. It retails for $170,, though it is often on sale.

That is, unless you put quality materials and looks over tech, which is where Lundi comes in. Whereas Journey specializes in a range of wireless chargers, Lundi is one of my favorite French leatherworks, primarily making beautiful briefcases, weekenders, totes, and backpacks. However, they also have an office line, taking their elegant design philosophy and care for material quality to the desk space, and their large Lilio desk-mat shows that at their finest. Made of semi-vegetable-tanned full-grain leather and backed with recycled felt, it feels soft, warm, and just of great quality, and unlike cheaper materials, will only look better with age. Also, despite being essentially just a rectangular piece of leather, it’s designed with some beautiful touches, from the wool pencil slot at the top to the stitching around the edges. It’s $175 for a simple desk mat, but it’s beautifully made from Leather Working Group certified materials and is certain to last you many years.


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