The partner's desk has its roots in Western furniture design, and may have first appeared in Europe as a type of pedestal desk developed to facilitate the work of two-person teams. This form may have gained popularity in China during the mid-Qing period, although most of the known examples of Chinese manufacture appear to date from the 19th century.
A very similar zitan and huali desk, also dated to the 19th century, was included in the Exhibition of Art Treasures from Shanghai and Hong Kong, The University of Hong Kong, 11 September 1996 - 25 January 1997, and was illustrated in the catalogue, p. 144, no. 80. For another example of a zitan pedestal desk, although not of partner's-desk configuration, dated to the Qianlong period, see Tian Jiaqing, Prosperous Age, Elegant Collection, Beijing, 2008, pp. 93-4.