If sitting is the new smoking, as some health experts have warned, then Oristand may be the most affordable cessation program out there. Oristand is a new standing desk conceived by entrepreneur Ryan Holmes, the founder and CEO of social media startup Hootsuite. It costs just $25, and get this, it’s made of cardboard.
You are not reading this in The Onion. Oristand is for real, and while $25 may seem like a lot for a fancy piece of cardboard, it fulfills a real need for standing desks in Silicon Valley while encapsulating many of the ephemeral qualities of the Valley itself.
The cost of Oristand pales in comparison to most standing desks on the market. The popular Kangaroo Pro Junior, for example, retails for $399, and that’s the budget model next to the Jarvis Bamboo ($750) or the NextDesk Terra ($1,497.)
So how does it stack up? Initially, I was skeptical that a cardboard standing desk could compete with more expensive models. Cardboard is not exactly durable stuff. And if you spill liquid on it and don’t dry it out quickly enough, the cardboard can degrade and become less stable. But in general, a desk with just a laptop sitting on it shouldn’t be subject to that much wear and tear, which makes cardboard a reasonable choice of material.
Oristand also compares favorably to it’s biggest competitor: a $22 IKEA hack, widely discussed online, that combines an end table and wall shelf to make a two-tiered standing desk. After using both, I found that I actually preferred Oristand, which is surprisingly stable. The IKEA hack is prone to tipping if I put the laptop on the lower shelf without anything to counterbalance it on the top shelf. Oristand is also easy to fold up and put away, unlike the Ikea hack, which requires permanent desk space. And it works better than many other low-cost, DIY options like stacks of shoeboxes or books.
Holmes himself started out with a DIY standing desk. He suffers from back injuries resulting from “snowboarding, judo, and general neglect,” and his doctor instructed him to start using a standup desk. Holmes’ doctor isn’t alone in advising the use of a standing desk, and they’re not just for use by people with injures: prolonged sedentary time is associated with poor health outcomes like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, according to a review of scientific literature published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last year. The result of his DIY efforts, however, was “a wobbly standup desk,” Holmes says. “I had an expensive laptop balancing on top of it, and just thought it didn’t make much sense and wasn’t a good example for my employees.”
So Holmes approached his friend Nathan Martell, a designer, and said he wanted to create a folding, cardboard standup desk. And after four years, together they managed to put Oristand on the market on January 13.
Mock up of the Oristand. (Photo courtesy of Oristand)
“The benefit for me as an employer is I want to get these desks in front of our staff,” Holmes says. “And when you think about $1,000 a head that’s pretty cost prohibitive.”
Apart from the low price, Oristand also has ease of assembly going for it. A startup wouldn’t want their $200,000-a-year web developers spending their afternoon cobbling together Ikea hacks when they could be coding instead. “The benefit for a larger company you can sell 1,000 units, distribute them in a day and then everyone has them,” says Holmes. This scalability is ideal for Silicon Valley, where fast-growing and high-turnover companies are the norm. The company also appeals to the startup world by offering branded desks with customized designs that turn employees’ Oristands into mini-advertisements. Both Uber and Snapchat have reached out to Oristand and are currently in design discussions for their own custom desks, Holmes says.
Oristand is not built to last forever. But it can help startups solve a problem quickly and frugally, which, in a sense, is the Valley way.
The Oristand has a lower and an upper tier in case you want to have a separate monitor and keyboard. (Shelby Carpenter)
Courtesy of Forbes.com