Hi there, we're Dan and Nadia, the founders of MOVI.
Thanks for visiting MOVI. This is our story, our journey and our passion.
We hope to make your workday healthier and happier!
What we stand for at MOVI
Imagine a world where people become healthier and stronger by going to work. We have. And we have not been able to let go of this idea since.
We want a world where people become healthier and stronger while working, a world where, as a society, we are healthy and happy. That is why we have created MOVI.
Our mission is to help people live longer lives of better quality due to better health, through drastically improving their health while working.
This is our story
Hi there, my name is Dan. I want to share with you the story of how MOVI came to be. It all started with pain...
My Dad is a remarkably active and strong person who regularly goes to the gym, swims and boxes. He’s a finance professional and like many of us, spends an average of 10 - 12 hours a day sitting; at his desk, in meetings, driving, during meals, and as downtime in the evenings.
In 2011, at just 56 years old, he underwent spinal surgery due to acute lower back pain. The procedure was called ‘lumbar laminectomy’. It’s when there is a prolapsed intervertebral disc, meaning that the ‘padding’ between two discs in Dad’s lower spine had worn out; intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers in our spine. The surgeon needed to cut away some bone, bone spurs, and ligaments to allow for decompression.
My painful experience wasn’t with my lower back, it was acute sciatica in my left leg. Acute sciatica is the pinching of a nerve that runs from your gluteal all the way down your leg, right down to the middle of your foot. I was 25, it was winter, and I wanted to step up my fitness. So I started running 2 - 3 times a week. After sitting all day at work, taking the train home, and with little to no warm up, I would run 10 kms at a decent pace. After 3 months, I began to feel a pinch down my left leg. It became too intense to run. I tried everything to treat it; physiotherapy, osteopathy, steam rooms, yoga and acupuncture. The problem was that after sitting all day my muscles became disengaged, weak, so when I would jump into challenging physical exercise for 45 - 60 minutes at the end of the day it would aggravate the problem. Plus sitting all day long placed additional pressure on my spine, which was making things worse. It took almost 2 years to heal.
My brother, my Dad and I.
Building my first standing desk in 2013
While researching in 2013 I came across a Lifehacker article, which is still popular today. It explains how to use cheap IKEA products to construct a desk add-on that would allow you to stand up while you work. I immediately rushed to IKEA to test it out: I used a square side table (the ‘Lack’), two plastic brackets, and a shelf. Altogether the cost was $40. I measured my arms at a right angle, my height, and the base desk height and assembled my DIY stand-up desk platform. I began using it at home as I didn’t yet have the courage to bring it into the office for fear of judgement. It was a DIY desk made on a budget after all.
Like most things that are DIY on a budget, it had its downfalls. My desk add-on was really bulky, wasn’t adjustable, wasn’t ergonomic, and didn’t have a great deal of space for me to have notes and papers around me while I worked. Most annoying was that every time I wanted to sit down I would have to disconnect everything, find a spare desk space and work off my laptop screen rather than my large external monitor. Despite all of this I was proud of my creation, it was good enough to get me started.
A few months later I landed a job with Uber HQ in Australia. Being such an innovative and fast-growing startup I thought to myself, “if I’m ever going to bring something different into work then surely a San Francisco tech startup would be the place”. So on my third day, I brought in my bright orange IKEA DIY standing desk. I was a bit nervous, being the ‘new guy’ particularly when you do something outside the norm but I was intrigued to see what they would think of my health hack. Most of the team took an initial interest, asking a few questions, but that was it. However, over the next few months of watching me use it, many started constructing their own. They used boxes, crates, or any type of object that would create two platforms of distinct height on their existing desk; one platform for the keyboard and one platform for the monitor. Later that year when I visited Uber HQ in San Francisco, I saw they were also experimenting with standing desks, which confirmed that this was becoming a ‘real thing’.
Six months created enough interest across the team to consider buying some ‘real’ standing desk attachments (a product that goes onto an existing desk that allows you to sit and stand while you work). We were moving into a new office and decided to go ahead with the purchase. And by the end of the following year, every Uber office in Australia had standing desks!
However, I noticed that not everybody in the office was using them. Some people stood all day everyday and loved them (me included), however the majority only used them occasionally, and some didn’t use them at all. I wondered why. So out of pure curiosity I asked the team what they thought about standing while working, why some weren’t using their standing desks, and what the problems were with these poorly designed products.
Designing the MOVI Standing Desk
There are some major problems with most height adjustable, sit-stand desk top platforms available (these are the products that go onto an existing desk).
The common issues are:
- They’re not ergonomic: most products only allow 35cm (13.7”) of height elevation meaning that users taller than 178cm (5’ 10”) won’t have an ergonomic setup.
- Potential back strain: Moving from sitting to standing can be a hazard because the lifting levers are quite far from you, requiring you to lean and reach forward. This can lead to shoulder, neck and back strains.
- Restrictive workspace: most platforms have small keyboard trays as the primary working area, which can be very restrictive and limiting.
- Bulky design: many products are not aesthetically pleasing or refined, and take up a lot of space in the office, making them look and feel out of place.
I wanted my product to overcome these issues and also be aesthetic, elegant, practical, and spacious. I knew it needed to be simple, solid, of high quality, truly ergonomic, suitable for taller and shorter users, adaptive for people of all sizes, moveable, adaptable to any monitor size, reliable, and affordable.
And so the sketching began. Literally hundreds of shapes, sizes and configurations, exploring how this perfect standing desk could be designed.
I began sketching a whole range of concepts.
After a lot of research, product testing and surveying of users, I compiled a list of requirements for the ‘perfect’ design:
- Ergonomic: infinitely adjustable platform to allow a truly ergonomic setup,
- Spacious: a primary working area that is unencumbered by anything unnecessary,
- Desktop Add On: an affordable platform easily retrofitted to existing office desk,
- Extra Low Profile: a slim construction to sit seamlessly on an existing desk,
- Refined Designed: an aesthetic that will enhance office spaces and entice use,
- Simple Adjustability: making it quick and seamless to move between sitting and standing regularly.
- Sustainable: use sustainably sourced materials that can be easily regenerated.
With this and my design inspirations in mind, I eventually worked out the best structure. The design came from observing many different structures, in particular, The London Bridge. When the drawbridge is retracted, from a certain angle it looks like the top of the bridge is touching the raised road ramps. This helped me generate the idea of creating a large workspace platform elevated by legs that can collapse in toward the centre of the platform with a large workspace area and additional monitor platform on top.
There are three major advantages of this design approach over other products out there:
- The workspace area could be a large rectangular platform, without any obstructions or interferences, creating an open workspace,
- The maximum extendable height of the desk could be significant, as the legs allow for 45cm (~18”) of lift, enabling the desk to suit very tall users (and equally as able to cater to short users) ergonomically,
- Office space wouldn’t be wasted as the product would raise vertically directly, making it convenient to retrofit in office spaces of all sizes.
I then needed to work out the mechanical solution for it. Every imaginable combination was considered. It took over 18 months of designing, testing, prototyping and virtual simulations to finally determine the most suitable solution for raising and lowering the desk. 10 engineers were involved at different stages throughout this process.
First I considered springs, but these didn’t work. Since the product raises vertically there’s the potential to launch the desk towards the ceiling if it’s not counterweighted with equipment. Next, pneumatic cylinders (often seen on self-closing doors), but these didn’t work as they’re unable to lift when the platform is in the flat position. Then a manually wound mechanism was considered, but it would take much too long to adjust your position. Ultimately, an electric motor was considered. It was significantly more complex to engineer, but was by far the most convenient for usability, and I didn’t want to compromise on the user experience. Finally... Victory!
How big is this 'sitting' health problem?
Over the past few years many health professionals and health institutes have compared sitting for 12 hours a day to smoking. Your risk level of being diagnosed with heart disease and cancer are comparable if you’re a chronic sitter or a chronic smoker. Thus if you have a job where you’re sitting for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, plus all the additional sitting time outside of work, you’re doing a comparable amount of damage to your body as smoking. It’s a scary discovery, but also odd that it’s taken us so long to realise. Sedentary behaviour is causing a health epidemic - and we must start talking about it.
Our Design Journey Took 3 Years
We have overcome a lot of very complex challenges and firmly believe that this is the absolute best standing desk product out there. There is nothing else on the market that offers you what MOVI does - space, ergonomics, design and practicality - that's why we've patented our product and mechanism.
We choose bamboo because we LOVE trees!
Bamboo can be selectively harvested without the destruction of the grove or stand. Greater use of bamboo as an alternative to hardwoods will contribute to a slowing in the depletion of tropical forests, with corresponding benefits for bio-diversity, conservation, and carbon sequestration (absorption). As a result, planting and harvesting bamboo can help the world to get a step closer to carbon neutrality.
The design aesthetic of MOVI was inspired by nature.
We had the vision of bringing the outside indoors to create an uplifting workspace. With this in mind, we felt a natural benchtop was the best way to achieve this. So when considering the materials that make MOVI, an environmentally friendly and eco solution was top priority. Bamboo was our selection, next to FSC timber, but bamboo is environmentally far superior, and we loved the look, feel and durability of bamboo the best!