Taking a Stand – How I’m building a laptop stand-up desk

Four Years Ago

I was introduced to the stand-up desk while working for a conglomerate, in Copenhagen.I didn’t know such desk existed, so imagine my surprise when I found that almost everyone in the IT department had one.

I was really interested when I saw a couple of my new colleagues standing up while working. After the introductions and everything, I had my first opportunity to make a stand. I fumbled around with the switches and found myself standing with my computer screen exactly where I want it to be. Withing 10 minutes I LOVED the stand-up desk. To me, this was a new frontier, an uncharted world.

Ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but yeah that was an awesomely different from my day-in-day-out sitting on a chair to work. The first few hours of standing were quite interesting, I felt a bit more productive, had some mini one-to-one meetings with my work colleagues with their desk raised.

It became apparent that my feet felt tired frequently after standing a couple of hours during the first week. But I also noticed that my productivity improved greatly.

The Pain the Followed

Fast forward two years down the line, I am working from home on a normal desk with big screens, laptops, iPads and mobile phones. I am jostling around coding, testing and walking around my home. I was making video games. It was great.

Obviously, this doesn’t last.

One mid-morning while working I realised that I had excruciating pain emanating from my right-hand wrist. This pain was persistent, especially when I was typing on my laptop. MY neck was hurting and I was hunching a lot.

Being a type of guy I am, I just continued with the day, thinking that it was a temporary thing.

Big surprise: it wasn’t.

Over the next dew weeks, the pain increased and slowed me down from doing my work. Eventually, I managed to get myself to my local GP. I was then diagnosed with repetitive strain injury (RSI). I was given a hand brace to wear and a pamphlet to read about the condition and how to manage it. That was it!

Taking a Stand

Over the following days, the pain continued. One morning I decided to change from sitting to standing. A few minutes into my standing I felt the pain in my wrist subside greatly. I had stacked a couple of Wiley’s thick computer books under my laptop to raise the height of my laptops to a comfortable level. This was the first “wiley” stand up desk I had ever made.

My first attempt at making a stand-up desk
Behold the “wiley” stand, my first attempt at making a stand-up desk, using thick computer books

From here on, the pain slowly subsided and it soon wasn’t persistent as before. I still had pain, but I figured that the standing helped to alleviate the pain a bit.

Hacking a Better Stand-up Desk

Although my poor stand-up desk solution was adequate it soon became apparent that it was hazardous to my then 4-years-old daughter. Knowing a bit about woodwork, I eventually constructed a basic wooden stand-up desk. The “wiley” stand soon gave way to the “Z” stand.

My second attempt at making a stand-up desk, this time I used wood and bought some hinges
My second attempt at making a stand-up desk, this time, I used wood and some hinges. The hinges were quite expensive.

It was basic, nothing fancy, but it worked the way I wanted. Eventually, I outgrew its bland minimalist functionality. Over the next couple of months I began to realise some functionalities I would like to add to the wooden stand-up desk, however, I soon realised that for this to work, I would have to purchase one. Armed with my requirements, I went out searching for alternatives on the markets. I had quite a strict requirement. I found a few that worked ok, but mostly nothing really met my needs. Eventually, I settled on building something that would meet my expectation and requirements.

I found a few that worked ok, but mostly nothing really met my needs. Eventually, I settled on building something that would meet my expectations and requirements.

Visual Prototyping the “Z” stand

I soon hired a final year product designer student to design a concept/prototype stand-up desk based on a minimalist specification. The end result was the “Z” stand-up desk.

Design concept of the "Z" stand-up desk
Design concept of the “Z” stand-up desk

I wanted to visually capture the concept of the “Z” stand-up desk and explore the feasibility of actually turning the prototype into a product. As the stand was design concept, I showed it to a bunch of people asking them for feedback and perhaps improvement and their thoughts. I was astounded by the feedbacks I received. People were interested in purchasing the final version of the “Z” stand-up desk.

Next…

Over the next couple of months, the “Z” stand will become a product to launch on KickStarter towards the end of 2016. I am currently doing research and design work to bring the product to reality. I would like you to join me on this journey. I have never built a physical product, so I am learning on the “go”. I would like to share the journey with you. JOIN ME! CHEER ME ON! Send me feedback! And above all help me spread the word about this project.

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