Brian Pughe and Conor Brown
Dynamik Standing Desk
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Dynamik Standing Desk
Clever usage of something as economical as a belt makes this desk design more than a place to lay your books. It is a simple yet effective solution to rest in public space, allowing one to fully engage with others even if the interaction will last longer than your legs can hold out. This standing desk also gives new function to an existing furniture type with minimum alteration.
Dynamik Standing Desk
Dynamik is a standing desk for high school and college level students centered around the physical and mental health benefits to be gained by standing in a learning environment. Standing at Dynamik invites attentiveness and interaction in the classroom that is lost during a resting, seated position. Staying true to the traditional school desk, Dynamik utilizes steel and wood. A bent plywood surface rests on a single piece of bent tubing acting as support. A strap of canvas covered felt comprises a knee rest to allow for extended periods of use and invites proactive and healthy movement while standing.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Dynamik originated from a request by faculty at James Madison University to create a standing desk for higher level education in which they could use in a focus group to study how standing in a learning environment promotes engagement and improves attention. Sitting at a traditional desk can often cause difficulty with attentiveness as well as restlessness. A standing desk concept looks to replace the passivity of sitting in a classroom with the dynamic and interactive qualities of standing.
In recent years studies have been published and press coverage has highlighted the negative effects on a person’s body while sitting. By sitting three hours a day, the risk of heart disease increases by 64%. Electrical activity in the leg muscles shut off while sitting. Working at a standing desk causes the leg muscles to constantly activate and people are continually moving and shifting their balance, negating these harmful effects. In a college student schedule, credit hours can range from thirteen to twenty, which by association can infer thirteen to twenty hours of sitting a week. By incorporating a standing desk into a learning environment, hours of negative health effects and decreased engagement are prevented and interaction and movement are encouraged.
Being undergraduate students and being surrounded by so many of our peers allowed us to easily relate and emphasize with the problems of the traditional classroom desk. This gave us an ideal environment to research and understand the problem and how the benefits of a standing desk would be felt. It also provided us with the ideal environment and setting to test prototypes and see the affects a standing desk has.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Our process for designing a standing desk for the classroom began in the research stage where we discovered that pre-existing options for a standing desk are limited and the area has not been fully explored. Many current applications are not appropriate for a classroom setting. Once we knew what was currently on the market, we began sketching and building miniature models of possible standing desk solutions.
Our iteration process focused on simple lightweight forms that could be easily mass-produced and integrated into classroom environments. We originally explored desk adjustability and attempted to design a desk that the student could change and adapt to his or her personal preferences. This direction led us to a desk of many parts and expensive manufacturing. We then altered our thinking and focused on creating a universal desk that could be manufactured from few parts and quickly mass-produced at a low cost. By doing this, it would optimize the manufacturing process and the low cost would be beneficial in the mass orders that a university or other school institution would require. Our sketches and models featured many different frame and surface possibilities from which we honed in on the combination that provided the maximum balance and stability in the least complex form. We experimented with many color and material variations before deciding on wood and steel. It was important for the desk frame to be made from a single length of bent steel tube in order to simplify the production process. These materials were unobtrusive and elegant, yet were still reminiscent of the classic school desk.
Through our hands on research it became apparent that it was critical for the user to be able to alleviate their weight to allow periods of intermittent rest. This makes the desk practical for long periods of use. Investigations were conducted in different leaning possibilities and ways of resting through the shifting of balance. This lead us to integrate a flexible knee rest into the desk form while clearly conveying its function.
After miniature look-alike prototyping, we came to a form decision and a full-scale, rough working prototype was fabricated. This desk featured adjustable parts to allow us to test the desk on a range of body types to discover the optimal anthropometrics dimensions. A full-scale, high-quality prototype was made from predicted production materials featuring aesthetic and function based decisions. This prototype was fully stress tested to ensure it could survive the abuse of a school environment.
Dynamik is a step towards revolutionizing the way people learn and putting people back on their two feet, the way the body was meant to be. It brings attention to the recent discoveries about the harmful effects of sitting and provides an alternative in an environment in need of a solution, that forces long periods of extended sitting and minimal movement. Going beyond just health benefits, Dynamik looks to discover how standing can promote interaction and engagement in a learning environment; qualities that improve the rate and interest in learning and create discussions rather than lectures. Dynamik takes the slumped over, sitting, inattentive student and allows him freedom of movement at a standing desk, encouraging engagement and activeness. With Dynamik, we believe, the classroom can go from a lecture-based learning to interaction-based learning.