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Your Desk Is Killing You
Lauren Murrow | Photo: Courtesy of Stir Kinetic, tinkeringmonkey.com | April 14, 2014
Upgrading the old-school office fixture.
Don’t just sit there.
No, really. The seemingly innocuous act of sitting for more than six hours a day has been associated with an outsize rap sheet of ails, including an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity, and heart disease. The death rate for men who spend that much time desk-bound each day is 17 percent higher than for those who sit for less than three hours, according to the American Cancer Society; for women, that rate rises to 37 percent. What once seemed like a cutesy catchphrase—“Sitting is the new smoking”—has become a warning worth heeding.
Luckily, smartly designed, good-looking ergonomic furniture isn’t solely for Scandinavia anymore. An Apple alumnus brings us the Stir Kinetic, the slickest new sit-stand desk on the market. And, since last summer, San Francisco is home to Ergo Depot, an entire showroom full of futuristic office furniture. We tested a warehouse’s worth of adjustable-height desks to save you from the sitting disease.
For the Fitness Trackers:
The Ferrari of adjustable-height desks, this new motorized, software-equipped model recognizes when you sidle up through a thermal presence sensor. At pattern-triggered intervals throughout the day, it reminds you to change positions by gently ascending and descending an inch over six seconds—its designers call it “Whisperbreath”—a motion that mimics the rise and fall of a person’s chest while at rest. Though it may seem like overkill for something you could reasonably approximate by stacking boxes atop your desk, the Stir Kinetic’s creator, Stanford grad and former iPod designer J.P. Labrosse, says the goal is to make the sit-stand workday unobtrusive and seamless. “The desk learns by interacting with you,” he explains. Your time spent standing and calories burned are charted on a touch screen. (If you spend half the workday chair-free, Stir estimates, you’ll burn an extra 4,000 calories a month.) Eight AC ports and four USB sockets are hidden within recesses at the top of the desk, and a single cord powers the whole thing. It’s also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected; by the end of the year, you’ll be able to sync your desk with fitness tracking devices like Fitbit or Up.
$3,890 At Ergo Depot, 245 Kansas St. (near 16th St.), 415-654-5467
For Small Spaces:
NextDesk Solo Plus
This freestanding, single-column design is made for micro-apartment living. The top moves at 1½ inches per second via a digital LED display and has three memory presets. But the best part is the sleek aesthetics: a rounded 30-by-24-inch bamboo top in three finishes and a brushed aluminum base.
$997 at nextdesks.com
For the Unplugged:
Silent, streamlined, and—unlike most modern sit-stand desks—cordless, the Float rises through a counterbalance mechanism, gliding into position with the flip of a lever. The base accommodates desktops from 48 to 72 inches wide.
$1,749 at Ergo Depot
For the Budget Conscious:
Kangaroo Pro Junior
A no-assembly-required addition to your existing desk, this height-adjustable workstation includes a 24-by-18-inch desktop and a bracket to mount your monitor. Both surfaces slide unassisted up to standing height with the twist of a knob.
$399 at ergodesktop.com
For Architects (and other Aesthetes):
Focal Locus Desk
Both the height and the incline are adjustable in this sit-stand alternative to the classic architect’s desk. The roomy 30-by-48-inch surface area tilts up to 15 degrees and comes in oak, walnut, eggshell, and matte black finishes.
$1,290 at Ergo Depot
For the DIY Hackers:
Software entrepreneur Colin Nederkoorn (iamnotaprogrammer.com) didn’t want to shell out for a pricey standing desk. So he built his own out of Ikea parts:
“I had just started a new company, and I was spending a lot of time in front of the computer. It’s depressing; you get this overwhelming feeling of lethargy when you sit in one spot the whole day. Initially, I just stacked a bunch of boxes on the tabletop until the height was right. I bought the parts at Ikea and built my own standing desk in a weekend. Desks like the Stir Kinetic are really, really awesome and really, really expensive. If you work at an office where you can’t go around ripping out the furniture, you want something that’s not a big risk. That’s one of the reasons I think the Standesk 2200 caught on: If it doesn’t work out, you’re only out 22 bucks.”
Lack side table: $8, Viktor shelf: $6, Ekby Valter bracket: 2 for $8, The DIY standing desk: $22
For Those Who Eventually Need to Sit Down:
HAG Capisco chair
The T-shaped seat back naturally aligns the spine, and the depth-adjustable saddle tilts the pelvis forward, creating an open hip angle (which can also be straddled backward). The wings function as elbow rests to discourage hunching. The seat's cutouts allow the legs to hang down without restricting blood-flow. It incorporates an integrated footrest to take stress off the tailbone. And the chair's height covers a 9 and 1/2 inch range for sit-stand desks.
$830 at Ergo Depot
Originally published in the April Issue of San Francisco.