Standing Desk Jockey: Seth Brau


Boing Boing reader Seth Brau says:

I'm a motion graphics designer working in a shared workspace in Brooklyn that came equipped with beautiful seat height desks made by interior design wizard Kenyan.

Thankfully the desks were made out of standard steel plumbing piping (and beautiful salvage wood) so all I had to do was head to Chinatown and grab some lengthier piping and $24 later... voila. Well, it was actually $30 and 2 Chinatown plumbing supply adventures because the first time I got the height wrong... oops.

Then I got this floor mat. Kinda pricey, but they have an insane selection and the little raised balls massage my feet and are supposed to energize me... I find working in socks has been ideal.

It's been a good month, super productive, feeling good... I find putting on some good music and dancing around tends to help with the aches and pains of standing. I also work with a Wacom Cintiq (that's what I'm drawing on in the photo) and standing has been awesome for that, I always felt kind of awkward working at the Cintiq while seated.

I just bought a stool at a flea market that I was super excited about but ended up being too short... but I lucked out again and found a nearby metal shop that is currently welding leg extensions to the stool.

Overall it's been a relatively cheap and easy transition and I've been really blown away by the ease of finding all these parts and having things fixed up and what not... I've got that special DIY feeling you get when something comes together... or I guess more of a DIWTHOLE (Do It With The Help Of Local Experts) feeling... does that count?


  1. I do the same at work and home. Both places have a hutch, and when I want to stand, I move the screen up to the top of the hutch (eye level for me, I am 6’4″) and put the keyboard and mouse on a cheap lap desk, the kind with legs. I SHOULD remain standing most of the day, but I do get lazy and put the screen back down from time to time, like when my back hurts. Moving between the two is no problem, though I do have a tangle of wires on my desk for slack.

    Now all I need is a desk that raises and lowers itself. I’ve seen them in office catalogs…

  2. Looking at this fellow from this angle it looks like his right middle arm area and elbow are grinding into his work table. Like others here, I worked for years standing at a paste-up table at a newspaper. I never had much actual back trouble but my neck would be stiff and throbbing when 6 AM (quitting time) rolled around – it is kind of funny reading this debate. It’s like reading a debate between people who crawl and people who hop

  3. Seth: what is the difference between sitting on a stool at a high desk or a chair at a lower desk?

    1. I really only use the stool around 10-15% of the time when I’m working. It’s also nice to have for guests at my desk.

  4. I really like the look of this desk, both before and after the standing desk mod. I really like how simple it is. Pipes and salvaged wood. Very rustic and awesome

    Is it possible to get the width, length and height of the desk pre and post modification?

    Just for my own curiosity..

    1. Desk is 59″x 29″ height before modification 30″ and after 44″. I’m 5’11 and this height seems to work well… I found a good way to measure was to make the standing desk a couple inches below your elbow when standing.

  5. I’m a freelance writer and video producer–with a toddler. I’m lucky if I can get a few hours of desk time in during the day. I must be doing it wrong.

  6. I’ve enjoyed reading these articles about standup desks, and everyone’s opinions. Having worked as a cook/chef most of my life, its not an issue I have to grapple with myself. :D

  7. I am still interested in trying out this standing desk thing for a month, but before I begin, I want to know what I can do at the end of the month to test and make sure it’s working.

    1. nothing you can do to check.

      If you’re lucky then the worst pain from your feet has started subsiding..

      Having worked in different scenarios:
      sitting (office),
      standing(factory) and
      sitting/standing/running around

      I will say that sitting all day doesn’t make me feel good. But standing all day doesn’t feel that good either. When you’ve done that for a couple of years… nahhh, not for me. I had the kind of job where I could move around quite a bit, not standing at a conveyor belt or anything, and not every day would be alike.
      Sitting/standing/walking and running errands just seemed perfect for MY body (can’t vouch for yours).

      All that said, I would prefer a standing desk because a high chair can be obtained, and thus the best of both worlds. But I would actually prefer to also have a low futon sofa or something like that for sitting/lying in weird positions for reading and notetaking…

  8. I worked for Johnson and Johnson as a CSR and all the desks where able to be raised to be standing desks. We had to stand fifteen minutes out of every hour. Was a fun place to work.

    1. Has anyone tried gaming at a stand-up desk? I guess that would be like playing an arcade game at the mall.

  9. I use a stand-up desk too and here’s my advice: your monitor is way too low, your keyboard is way too high. Both are going to give your shoulders a lot of ache.

    Also to ‘jeligula’ about the stool: it’s nice to be able to take little breaks & sit down without having to stop working.

  10. Hey Seth. This setup looks great. I’m also in NYC, so I would really appreciate some more details on which parts you purchased from where, and how you so dexterously pieced them together. More pics too! Thanks.

  11. i recall my boss doing this 18 years ago. it seemed quirky and interesting at the time, but he said it kept him feeling active and alert. if he were around today, i am sure he would get a kick out of seeing this frequently blogged on boingboing (and i am sure he would have enjoyed boingboing as well).

  12. I’d like a list of the parts, with measurements, as well. Thanks in advance.

  13. my laptop goes on one milk-crate, my external display goes on another. some days I’ll spend at least 14 hours in front of these electronic contraptions. after hours of standing I push the crates back, pull the devices down, and sit. i prefer working barefoot on a yoga mat or camping mat sorta thing.

  14. oh, and for the foot bar, i have an hp laser jet 4 — it doubles as a printer! we have the same speakers tho.

  15. “I find putting on some good music and dancing around tends to help with the aches and pains of standing”

    This doesn’t sound like a great endorsement!

    Surely it’s no different to saying “I find putting on some good music and dancing around tends to help with the aches and pains of sitting”… i.e. it’s what most people know already, that if you sit (or stand) in the same spot for hour after hour you’ll get aches, so you need to shake it up every 50 mins?

  16. do they sell convertible (so to speak) desks anywhere?

    with a crank or a winch or something, that you easily could raise them from “sitting height” to “standing height”

    that would be my ideal desk, are you listening, Mr Ikea?

  17. All this hubbub about sitting and standing, but not a peep about lying prone (face up, face down, OR on the side), squatting, kneeling, treading water, or hanging upside down.

    My “desk” is one of those massage tables with the face hole. I lie face down and work on the floor.

  18. When I started working for Big Pharma, we were required to have some training in ergonomics. I was skeptical, but for me having a proper monitor height and wrist pads helped immensely.

    In the photo above it looks like his monitor isn’t high enough for the top to be eye-level, maybe that would help with the neck strain? Here’s some info about how lowering monitors can help with eye strain, but possibly too low could cause a crick in your neck…

    It would seem to me that the rules for ergonomics when sitting should apply when standing…Mark F, do you know of anyone who actually
    studies ergonomics who could corroborate?

  19. While that standing desk is certainly functional, I actually find the “mini-platform built on top of a regular desk” approach more functional. My PC and assorted other junk fit under the platform, effectively doubling the surface area of my desk. This gain is somewhat offset by the footprint of the old PCs that form the basis of my platform, but I still net at least 1/2 desk in surface area.

    I’ll have to submit a picture of my “old PCs and Plywood” setup, as a counterpoint to the pleasing aesthetics of this submission.

  20. I experimented with working on a mini stairstepper, but the neighbors complained about the noise. Shakespeare would have said there are three things that cannot be hid: love, a cough, and the ships engines din of a dumpster-rescued stairstepper.

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