What Are Cocobolo Desks? The Desk 'Better Call Saul' Made Famous
Cocobolo desks are rare hardwood desks made of Central American cocobolo wood. The wood is the rare part. Not only is cocobolo elegant and flashy, but it's hard to get. Few furniture makers work with cocobolo wood.
Recently, many desk collectors have been made aware of cocobolo desks through the hit TV show "Better Call Saul," but that doesn't mean cocobolo desks are a fad. Rather, the show referenced the desk to begin with because of the prized nature of the wood.
Here's everything you need to know about cocobolo desks.
Why Cocobolo Desks Are So Expensive
Cocobolo is a rare, durable, and attractive wood. Not only does it display a beautiful array of colors — almost a "rainbow" — but it's also difficult to work with. Due to the natural oils in the wood, many woodworkers find the material challenging.
This combination of rarity and beauty makes cocobolo desks very expensive. The cheapest cocobolo desk is often over $7,000, due to the materials alone.
You can see why people like these desks. The wood doesn't just have a striking grain pattern — it has a lot of color variation.
What's Special About Cocobolo Desks
Due to the materials used, a cocobolo desk is going to be extremely durable and attractive. More to the point, a cocobolo desk is very likely to be extremely well-made, and someone working with this wood is going to be a master woodworker.
There are many incredible hardwoods out there, but quite a few of them have been deemed unethical or unsustainable (which means they are purchased and imported in limited quantities). Even when hardwood is sourced ethically, there are fewer furniture pieces out there because they are all made by individual craftsmen.
Better Call Saul and Cocobolo Desks
A resurgence of interest in cocobolo desks is largely due to the "Breaking Bad" spin-off "Better Call Saul." In "Better Call Saul," Jimmy McGill purchases the desk when he gets a job at a law firm.
After he's fired, he writes a check for the desk and asks someone to drive the desk from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. Unfortunately (and tragically), the desk ends up being dumped on the side of the road.
Interestingly, the desk that "Better Call Saul" uses is probably not a cocobolo desk. Cocobolo desks aren't just incredibly rare. Most of the desks that are around are fairly small because of how rare the material is.
Don Shoemaker's Cocobolo Desks
Today, some of the most prized cocobolo pieces in existence are by Don Shoemaker, a famous Mexican mid-century furniture designer.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Don Shoemaker defined and popularized elements of mid-century style throughout the world. His most famous product is his cocobolo sloucher, or "sling chair," which is priced at thousands today.
The mid-century style was an abstract, futuristic style that was popularized in the '60s and '70s. Today, it remains one of the most popular styles not only for furniture but for architecture.
Its recent trendiness may also explain the renewed interest in cocobolo furniture.
Most Expensive Cocobolo Desks
Cocobolo desks are actually so rare that you would be hard-pressed to find them in a shop. A cocobolo desk by the acclaimed designer Don Shoemaker sells for $16,000 on Chairish — with a matching chair and receipt for the original purchase.
In fact, if you look online, this is one of just a handful of desks you can even find in cocobolo available for sale.
Most Affordable Cocobolo Desks
Due to the materials involved, there really isn't anything like a "cheap cocobolo desk." But there is a bit of a trick to it. Cocobolo is actually a type of rosewood. Although it doesn't have the same color spectrum, Rosewood can look pretty similar to cocobolo.
You can find a rosewood desk for as little as $1,700. That might still seem expensive, but it's very little, compared to $20,000.
Where can you find a real cocobolo desk for cheap? Your best bet would be to find one in an antique store and hope that the antique store didn't know what it had.
How to Buy a Cocobolo Desk
Since cocobolo wood is so rare and so prized, you really only have a couple of options for buying a cocobolo desk.
- You can purchase the desk online (likely for around $20,000).
- You can try to find one in an antique shop.
- You can settle for another (but still beautiful) type of rosewood.
- You can have one built for you by an artisan.
Cocobolo wood does exist. It's just a rare wood that's more difficult to work than many other hardwoods. The right craftsman might be able to make you a great desk, but be prepared for it to be costly.
Is Cocobolo Wood Ethically Sourced?
One nice surprise for those of you who are willing to spend $20,000 on a cocobolo desk is that the wood is generally ethical and sustainable. There's one caveat. You do need to make sure you're getting it from a legal source.
Illegally harvested hardwood is extremely detrimental to the environment. Hardwood trees take a long time to grow and can't be replenished quickly. Sustainable hardwood is often reclaimed from already felled trees.
Funniest Cocobolo Desk Memes
Finally, the cocobolo desk has become an icon of not only good health, but specifically Bob Odenkirk's good health.
There's a reason why the once obscure cocobolo desk has fascinated the internet. Not only did it become iconic through the show, but it's a quirky product many didn't know existed. And it's just fun to say "cocobolo."