A writing desk or bureau acts as a kind of compact office. Traditionally, a writing desk is for writing letters by hand. It usually has a top that closes to hide current work, which makes the room containing it look tidy, maintains privacy, and protects the work. The closing top may contain several joints so that it can roll closed, or may simply fold closed. The writing surface (or place for lap-top) typically folds down (perhaps being the lid) or slides out, to preserve the compact size when closed. They often have small drawers or "pigeon holes".
Modern writing desks are designed for laptop computers of the 21st century. They are typically too small for most desktop computers or a printer.