Maggie Jo Design: From Student To Furniture Designer

To hear Maggie Jo tell the story of how she tripped upon furniture design as a career is truly inspirational, and might even remind you a bit of some of the most creative people you know. After a receiving a pile of college entry denial letters, she wound up attending Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Not being able to draw or paint, and without any art class experience, she wasn’t sure what she was doing there but knew it felt right. It wasn’t long before Maggie even learned how to take her perceived disability – dyslexia – and use it to her advantage, solving problems differently than others and standing out in a good way. (Always important in design!)

Maggie Jo at work


Skool Desk

A year into school at MIAD, Maggie found herself in a furniture design class. They’d be designing and building a single piece of furniture, the assignment was to design something new from something old. She immediately decided on the classic school desk and the role it had played in her own education, and why it didn’t work. The result is her Skool Desk, the most complex project build she’s done to date.

Skool Desk is a contemporary take on a classic design. Crafted entirely from solid walnut, the desk is sleek and simple, yet dynamic. Its surface sits at a comfortable angle to encourage the user to have good posture and to prevent a cluttered workspace. Hidden hinges provide functionality without detracting from its form.


Skool Desk

It went on to win Best of Show at the International Woodworking Fair and was shown in renowned galleries. This was a turning point for Maggie, leading to opportunities such as her Conversation Chair gaining a spot in the Museum of Wisconsin Art’s permanent collection. Her goal now, as she enters a full-fledged career as a furniture designer under the Maggie Jo Design monicker, is to create useful and sustainable pieces that add value to people’s lives that they’ll have for many years to come. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing what’s next for this talented young designer.

desk with open top

Skool Desk

abstract chair

wood dresser


desk and chair

Maggie Jo sitting under desk

Maggie Jo

To learn more about Maggie Jo Design, visit

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.