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Publication Date: 2014-11-07

Design Insights

Modern Day Issues of Desk Shopping

Technology ensures that we all spend more time than ever at our desks. Which is good and bad. We need to be standing and moving more. So how do we handle the desk choice that will allow for this? Should we forgo aesthetics for health? Absolutely not. We can still have the dream desk and convert it to a healthy option. The upside: our productivity and brain function increases. Let's explore this further. We designers love beautiful furniture. We get paid to obsess about it—in order to deliver the finest to our clients, who expect the best. These clients have earned the ability to hire designers and afford these purchases through hard work. Endless hours at computers and desks. Don’t they deserve great desks? I say absolutely.

Lexington Desk, Jamie Herzlinger

Azimuth Desk, Amy Somerville

Riviera Rouge Desk, Linley

But along with the aesthetics come the practical issue of health. Sitting is the new smoking...because prolonged work hours create numerous side effects of sitting. The glutes literally get turned off, which triggers a surprising number of maladies like knee, back, shoulder, neck, hip and sciatic nerve issues we commonly assume are a natural part of aging. The problems also venture into soft tissues such as weight gain, obesity, diabetes, to name just a few. Some of these issues are reversible, which we explore in one of my articles on the dangers of sitting. More and more people of all ages, whether they work out or not, are experiencing the downsides of being glued to current technology.

Forward thinking executives realize the need to move more. The spine was not designed to be in a seated position for extended periods of time. So what do we do about it? The option so far has been to get a standing desk. Famous brainiac standing desk users include Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Leonardo da Vinici, Kierkegaard, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf. Coincidence? I'm thinking not.

The brain needs two things to thrive: fuel and activation. While nutrition is important, so is movement in order to active your brain. Brain activation is twofold: cognitive thought and movement.

Fact: the very best way to stimulate the brain is through movement. There are millions of tiny receptors on every joint and muscle in our body that are in constant communication with our brain. These receptors are stimulated through movement—which includes standing to work (the body does not just simply stand on it's own, these millions of receptors work hard to keep the body standing, believe it or not), or sitting on a ball instead of a chair when at your desk.

The trouble with standing desks: 1) Finding an attractive one. 2) They are not one size fits all. They need to be tailored to your specific height, where your elbows will be at a perfect 90 degree bend. 3) Standing all day isn't necessarily the answer. The combination of sitting and standing is best—and most reasonable.

Let's face it, aesthetics DO matter. For as much time as we spend at our desks, they should most definitely be a design priority. I encourage you to have the desk you love. The good news is that there is a way to merge aesthetics and health. Get the desk you love, buy the beautiful desk of your dreams, sell your clients the desks they have earned. Then, you can convert it to a sit OR stand functionality.

Read the rest of this article on Courtney Price


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