The StandStand Story: An Iterative Process

One morning during a meditation session, the thought crossed my mind that I could make a portable standing desk, something I could carry as easily as my laptop and set up on any table and desk. Since tables and desks are found everywhere, I only needed to raise my computer about twelve inches.

I made my first prototype within a week. I thought a trapezoid would give stability, but it pivoted back and forth a lot. When I added two sticks to brace it, that was already six pieces—too many to carry easily.

StandStand First Prototype

So I got in touch with my friend Kenny, an MIT-trained engineer who now runs a lab for NASA. Kenny liked that I was using wood because of its high strength-to-weight ratio, but he said I should start with triangles, not trapezoids, since triangles provide strength in multiple directions. Sure enough, you find triangles in bridges and skyscrapers everywhere, and the triangles formed by the braces in my first model were what gave it strength. Following his suggestions, my next two prototypes looked like a hinged wooden book and something I called the “offset-T.”

StandStand Offset-T

I liked the aesthetics of the offset-T, but there was a problem: if you knocked one of the bottom panels, the mortise-and-tenon joint would separate, even after I added magnets. My friend Paul suggested a clever combination of traditional wood joints to pass one base panel through the other. That locked the base together, and when I added the top, it provided even more rigidity by preventing the base panels from pivoting. I spent a week developing these ideas in the shop where Paul’s dad had given me a job for two summers during college.

Luke Leafgren Building StandStand Prototypes

When I decided to add a handle, the material I removed combined with the mortises to create a face, giving some unexpected personality to the design. Dimples appeared when we added dowels to hold the panels together for transport. (Hello there, friend!)

StandStand Laptop Size Comparison

We couldn’t figure out what to call it until my brother-in-law, Travis, proposed “StandStand” because that’s what it is: A stand that lets you stand anywhere you take your computer.

And that, my friends, is the story of how StandStand came to be.