As Martin Keen sees it, the best ideas are born out of need. In his case, he needed to find a way to work in “a posture other than sitting.” At the time, he had just moved from California to Rhode Island and was deeply immersed in the world of footwear design. Working by himself, he had the flexibility to experiment with ideas and positions until he hit on something that worked. Standing at an architect’s table proved to be too exhausting to do it for any extended period of time. Then he hit on an idea. “I got a stool, tipped it forward and leaned it against a surface at an angle,” he says. It proved to be the magic formula.
“I wasn’t looking to create a product to revolutionize how people work,” he explains. “Writing code, designing, trading socks—they can be repetitive and you get tired. I was looking for a physical way to give myself a way to be more mentally more engaged.” Prototypes of the seat followed, as did a successful footwear company, Keen. After selling his company, “I had the chance to pursue another industry,” he explains, and turned his attention to developing the seat in earnest.
Out of his efforts came the Locus Workstation. The system combines a well-engineered desk that’s height- and incline-adjustable and a seat that encourages the sitter into a neutral position a far cry from the standard set-up of a typical desk chair—the result is a position that takes stress off the body. “Furniture is a more personal product than footwear,” notes Keen. “I was thinking about supporting the entire body.”