August 15, 2021

A novel standing desk in a classic style, with some accessories.

The design for Brighton came about as a result of a weekly livestream that I do every Friday. One of my regular viewers gave me a specific request: design a standing desk that would look at home in a midcentury modern executive suite. The premise of my livestream is that I receive the design prompt, ideate, sketch, model, and render all in the span of two hours. Brighton followed that template - the initial design was completed in a two hour window (though the detailing and engineering work did take another 3 days or so). I also designed several other elements of this desk setup, namely, the computer case, camera, and desktop speakers.

Brighton takes advantage of a noted lack of diversity in the standing desk market - with very few exceptions, standing desks are all basic slabs that sit atop two simple columns within which linear actuators are hidden. I wanted to differentiate my desk a bit by injecting some 1950s flair. To do this I borrowed some ideas from industrial design and architecture icon Jean Prouvé. His Présidence desk was a major inspiration for this design. I also felt there might be some opportunity to add features to this desk that were absent in other standing desks - for example, storage.

Brighton is innovative in its center actuation. Whereas other standing desks use two columns on either side, Brighton suspends its surface from a single center actuator. This opens up the area beneath and creates an illusion of the desk floating in midair. The central concrete pedestal gives weight and stability supporting the static portion of the desk, while the arms extend this stability and support to the cabinet and linear actuator. A clever routing system keeps cable clutter out of sight, with a folding cable that holds everything organized throughout the vertical transition.

Dymaxion (designed as an accessory for Brighton) is a custom PC case that brings the heart of the computer to the fore. The semi-spherical clamshell shape allows the computer components to be accessible, while the glass panels show them off from all angles. The case is built for water cooling, with a distro plate built into the rear panel and mounting for two 360mm radiators on either side. A hook on the front of the case, just under the power switch, allows for convenient storage of headphones, and cutouts in the base make room for 45mm tweeter/drivers and a woofer. Mounting for cable combs, a large polycarbonate plate, and massive grommet cutouts make cable management easy. Dymaxion's unique shape is the reason for its distinct lack of ornamentation or graphic styling - to decorate it would be to depart too radically from the norm and would look garish and cheap. Instead, the simplicity of the texture and materials allows the form to speak more clearly, presenting an impression of some hulking alien body.

Dymaxion was designed in the space of about a week, while studying the necessary SolidWorks tools for working with sheet metal in order to pass one of my certification exams. Adding the various electronics components necessary for rendering took nearly another week. Dymaxion primarily consists of three sheets of 3mm thick aluminium, along with many panels made of laser-cut polycarbonate. Construction is relatively simple, with the bulk of the structure's form being taken from simple bends in the sheet metal. There are also some welded gussets for strength.

Procul (meaning 'far away' in Latin') is a webcam designed for a new age of digital communication. The intent is to produce a higher-quality video feed than any other webcam. Procul is mounted to a plate which attaches directly to the VESA mountings of a monitor - either sandwiched or directly. The universal mount accepts either Canon or Nikon lenses, and has pins for autofocus and digitally-controlled zooming. A halo light ring aids better subject lighting, and a bubble level allows the user to perfectly align the frame.

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