In 2014, Inc. Magazine voted the Focal Sphere Workstation as one of three of the best new products of the year.
“This was one of the most dynamic and comfortable seating solutions I’ve ever used,” Pepin Gelardi, a partner at New York-based product design company Tomorrow Lab, told Inc. “I felt relaxed, elevated, but also engaged. The execution and engineering of the ergonomics was aces.”
The Focal Upright Sphere Workstation ranges in price from $1975 to $3,199 with all of the upgrades, and the Active Collection Locus, an almost identical desk except for a smaller tabletop size, starts at $1455. We were surprised that we like this desk as much as we do, because it’s a leaning desk, and it doesn’t have an electric motor.
What’s a Leaning Desk?
A leaning desk has 2 or 3 options for how to use it, depending on how tall you are. You can sit, use a leaning chair such as the Locus Leaning Seat, Mobis, or Mogo, pictured below.
The Sphere Workstation adjusts from 36″ to 48″, and since I’m 6 foot 3″, 36″ is actually a comfortable height for me to sit. So I sit, lean, and stand at my desk. If you’re shorter than 6 foot 3″, 36″ might be too short for you to sit comfortably. So you may want to stand at your desk, and when you want a break, switch to leaning.
The genius creator of the Sphere and the Locus, Martin Keen (the same person who created Keen shoes), gives a demonstration of the Locus in this video. Remember that the Sphere is identical to the Locus, except that it has a larger desktop.
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- The Sphere Workstation has 2 adjustments that you can make. One is that the height via a hand crank can adjust from 36″ to 48″, with each turn lifting or lowering the desk 1/4″. The other is that you can tilt the tabletop 15 degree. It can be flat like a normal desk, or you can tilt it like a drafting table.
- The tabletop is 31″ by 78″ (the Locus is 30″ by 48″).
- The desk can hold 180 lbs.
- The table top is made of furniture-grade, 13-layer plywood, with 3 layers of polyurethane on veneers
- 2 removable cup holders
- Powder-coated aluminum desktop bracket
- Powder-coated cast zinc adjustment handle
- Hardened steel and aluminum adjustment mechanism
- Powder-coated cast aluminum with steel insert angle adjustment handles
- Powder-coated cast recyclable aluminum lower floor leg
- Powder-coated extruded recyclable aluminum desk legs
There are some upgrades that we really like. The first optional upgrade is the LED light. Not an ordinary light, it has 4 different brightness levels, and 4 different temperature levels.
Next is the Sphere shelf, used to hold your monitor itself, a monitor-arm, or any other items you want on your desk. The shelf isn’t attached to the desktop, so it remains level no matter what angle your desktop is at.
If you have an iMac monitor there’s an optional iMac bracket that will keep your monitor in place. You slide the monitor under the brack, and put the screw in the pre-drilled holes to keep it secure.
There’s a cable management tray that will keep all of your cords organized.
If you bought the Locus Leaning Seat, there’s an anti-fatigue mat that you put on top the board that you stand on. With a normal standing desk, many find that an anti-fatigue mat will help you get less tired from standing. With a leaning chair, there’s not nearly as much pressure on your legs, but many find it more comfortable.
If you bought the Mogo or Mobis, the stabilizing foot rest is a good investment. The idea behind the leaning chair is that your leaning chair and your legs make an A-frame for stability. If your feet are flat on the floor, your ankles will be nearly straight, which can strain the muscles along your shins.
If you’re interested in these upgrades, thereare a few bundles of options.
The Sphere Bundle includes the iconic Locus Seat with Nubuck seat cushion, Sphere Desk, anti-fatigue mat, Sphere shelf, cable management tray, and LED worklight. Buying these items in the bundle, as opposed to individually saves you $277.
If you bought the Locus desk, there are 2 bundles to choose from. The Locus Bundle includes the iconic locus seat, Locus desk, and anti-fatigue mat. Buying these items in the bundle saves you $170.
The Locus Bundle Pro includes the Locus seat, Locus desk, anti-fatigue mat, Locus shelf, cable management tray, and LED worklight. Buying it in the bundle saves you $207.
A Final Note About Focal’s Leaning Desks
These desks excel in both beauty and function. We’ve found that leaning and standing are better than sitting and standing that you do with most desks. We’ve compared notes and found that we have less upper and lower back issues, more energy, better mood, and higher productivity with leaning desks.
There is a bit of a learning curve with leaning, as with standing. Remember the general rule is to move around every 20 minutes. Being motionless standing isn’t good for you, as extended periods of sitting are harmful to you. So stand for a while, and when you get tired, lean. If you get tired leaning, keep a chair nearby for a little while until you acclimate to not sitting anymore.
Obviously the Sphere and Locus are one of the more expensive options on the standing desk market today. For myself, I was spending a lot of time and money at the chiropractor and getting massages for my back pain. And something that surprised me is that since I started using a leaning desk, my productivity has gone up, my energy levels are higher, and I sleep a little better. Between the savings on extra chiropractor visits and massages, and higher productivity and quality of life, my standing desk purchase paid for itself after about 9 months and was one of the smartest investments I’ve ever made.
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