Desert Island Desks with Lara Conway

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Lara Conaway is a freelance sustainability and wellbeing consultant, with over 20 years’ experience in the built environment. In recent years, her focus has been on the practical integration of wellbeing into the workplace. She is delighted that what should be a natural thought for office design and staff management is finally getting the attention it deserves. Outside of work, Lara rows competitively, is a rowing coach and is currently undertaking training to be a rowing umpire. Here are the key items she would take with her on an extended stay on our desert island…


A proper, big old knife. The uses are endless, and I could potentially need it to protect myself from someone wanting to take over my desert island. I have a beautiful, engraved scimitar with a tooled leather handle from Mali. It’s a stunning piece of handwork, which is functional and made with pride – something we see less of, it seems.

Portable solar panel unit

This is my practical side taking over. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Limitless sun, ergo, solar power. I’m glad my time on a desert island has coincided with this technology. If the human race gets properly on board, it might actually go some way to solving so many of our rapidly approaching issues. Oh no, wait, I forgot, apparently ‘clean, beautiful coal’ is the answer, according to some bloke recently…


Is this cheating? To get off when I want to? It also makes a great shelter from the tropical rains. I spend a lot of time in racing boats on the river – but this one would be a proper rowing boat. Think Jerome K Jerome, with rowlocks and oars and a canvas cover. And a Union Jack.


Of course, as I can now power it. Loaded with as many box sets, books, music and films as I can possibly muster. I never thought that I would be a gadget, ‘internety’ person, but it’s no longer something I can deny. The opportunities to learn, engage the brain, switch off the brain…has got me hooked. And it’s got a torch built in!

My bed

I love my bed – my safe and relaxing place, familiar and comforting. I’d need it to fit under the boat – or the boat needs to fit over the bed! Chicken/egg. A good night’s sleep is hugely important. I’ll need all my wits about me to find food with my knife. Oh, a mozzie net for my bed. On that point…

Copious amounts of Citronella…

…or DEET as insect repellent. Mozzies love me. They drive me insane. My time travelling through Central Africa showed me what utter tormenters they are. Not just from the furiously itchy bites, but the diseases you can get from them. I know they have a function somewhere in the eco system but for me (and hundreds of thousands of other people)…I even picked up malaria from the little blighters!

Vast vats of red wine

Ideally bottomless! I love my red wine. I subscribe to a service that provides selections from smaller vineyards, from all over the world. You never know what you are going to get – and I think that variation would be great to while away the days. Some lovely sheep’s cheese would be rather good too.