This struck Edge Desk founder Marc Rosenberg as ridiculous when he visited his daughter's college dorm room. The small amount of space afforded the two women was taken up by their beds, dressers and two desks, which were being used for storage -- not for work. When questioned about their habits, the women said they usually work from their beds or the floor. They didn't need the desks, and in that area they needed ... pretty much anything else. So Rosenberg started thinking of a way to give them back that space but still allow them to have a surface to work on when needed. Thus, the Edge Desk was born, making its debut on Kickstarter today for $349.
You might remember how kneeling desk chairs were all the rage some years back -- you know, the ones that didn't have a back and forced you to sit in such a way that was supposedly great for your posture while still being pretty comfortable. At least, that's what I was constantly told by a college friend who had one. I'd sat in his and found it to be pleasant but was never fully sold on getting one for myself.
So at first glance the Edge Desk was familiar: It's basically a kneeling chair with a desk attached. That sort of makes sense in a way, as a kneeling chair is smaller than a typical office chair, so why not a smaller desk for it? A smaller foldable desk. There's still plenty of room for other things on its surface besides a laptop: a notebook for writing or maybe a textbook. Technically you could fit a cup of coffee or other beverage, but that's a bit of a risky proposition. However, the Edge Desk has a solution for that, revealed right there in its name.
Along the, uh, edges of the Edge Desk is a groove where users can snap in accessories, and they go way beyond a simple cup holder. There are shelves for your phone and tablet, a paper tray and even a lamp. Rosenberg told us one girl his team surveyed asked for a makeup mirror. While I didn't see most of these accessories in action, the process for getting them in and out of the groove is easy, and they appear to be secure enough to endure the occasional jostle.
Part of the folding-up process is turning the desk surface into portrait mode, which led to the Edge Desk team discovering that it also makes a great easel. I'd agree this could be great for artists: I have comic-creator friends who do a lot of work on the road, and something like this could be easily set up behind their artist-alley booth at conventions and then folded up and stored in a car trunk at the end of the show.
However, with the Edge Desk weighing over 20 pounds, it's not something you'd want to carry around a convention, on campus or to the office. You could, and maybe some will. I personally found it cumbersome to pick up and carry under my arm. My artist friends weren't enamored with the idea of lugging it everywhere either. But merely sliding it out from under a bed, unfolding it and getting work done in a couple of minutes? I can deal with that.
The accessories are all specifically designed to collapse flat, which is important, given that the point of the Edge Desk is to save space. It's not just smaller than a traditional chair-and-desk setup. It folds up and can completely disappear under a bed or into a closet, which should work great for dorm rooms, studio apartments or creating a temporary office workspace.
But will I use it? While the Edge Desk team surveyed over 1,000 college students and found them highly receptive to the desk, my college days are long behind me. I found sitting in it comfortable, but I had trouble getting in and out of it due to my bad knees. And ultimately, while I've worked from my couch and even on floors, when I need to get down to business I use a desk -- both at Engadget headquarters and at home.
It's not just about having a comfortable seat and a flat surface to work on: My desk needs to be substantial enough to support a 24-inch monitor. And that barely scrapes the surface for a lot of people who rely on their desk to support an assortment of monitors, external hard drives or speakers. The workplace might be going mobile, but many people aren't completely free of the need for a home base of sorts. There's a lot I can do on my laptop, but I admit I also have a soft spot for having a place to call my own.
Call me old if you want. That's fine. There are plenty of people who like having a large mahogany desk to show off and impress visitors. A fancy desk can be a conversation starter. Sure, the Edge Desk can inspire plenty of conversations on its own, but ultimately it wants you to sit down and get to work.
If that's the sort of aesthetic that appeals to you, the Edge Desk's Kickstarter starts today, running through April 22. Early birds can get it pretty cheap at $249, while late backers will have to pay $349. The Edge Desk is set to arrive in October of this year -- just in time for midterms.