The Standing Desk

In today’s modern society, we have been trained by advertising – to consume.

Human beings are now referred to as “Consumers” by news organizations and powers that be. While this term should be as offensive as racial slang, it’s commonly accepted… and probably well deserved. Just look at how much we’re buying from Apple alone:

Apple has been known to mark big numerical milestones, celebrating the 50 billionth download from its App Store last May. But it appears to have quietly let a big one pass within the last few weeks as somewhere on earth, the 500 millionth iPhone was sold. [source: Forbes]

Whenever we have a problem, our first thought is which app, device or product we can buy to solve it. And buying products to solve our problems is getting easier and easier all the time. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Wal-Mart are more than happy to satisfy our craving for shiny objects and deliver new products, devices and food to our doors in as little as 24 hours.

This type of consumer convenience can be helpful. But it can also causes problems.

My problem

I used to have an issue with Apple products. Like many, I bought every new laptop and every new iPhone that came out. For no other reason than that the new version was a little smaller, or thinner or had a slightly better software than the one I already had.

All of these purchases started to pile up. And I now have a small Apple store’s worth of devices in my closet that will mostly likely never be used.

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself”. ~Author Unknown


So these days I consciously move away from purchase and product based solutions and try to solve my problems using the things I already have. I am no longer piling up new things and am steadily getting rid of all of the excess that I already have.

Today I’d like to demonstrate this by sharing the story of what happened when I decided I needed a new standing desk.

Standing desks

Everyone is talking about standing desks. The health benefits. How we’re destroying our bodies by sitting all day… And God knows I spend far too much time sitting at my desk.

So I decided I had to have one.

Here is the approach I took, that allowed me to create a perfectly good touch screen standing desk, without purchasing any new products or spending any money – in about 15 minutes.

The touchscreen standing desk.

For a standing desk to work you need 3 things:

  1. A computer
  2. An eye-level screen surface
  3. A mid-torso level keyboard stand

A computer

I have been searching for a use for my iPad mini for a year now. I’m fascinated by it’s design – but haven’t been able to find a use for it other than watching Netflix in bed.

So the iPad Mini was my first choice. And last choice. Because it worked.

A surface

I walked around my place with the iPad for a bit, placing it on surfaces and typing on it’s screen. I quickly found two problems:

  1. The iPad fell over when I typed on it’s screen in a standing position
  2. The counters in my apartment are low, so the positioning wasn’t good for my neck

I surveyed the rooms for any surface that was eye level and that’s when it hit me…

The kitchen cupboards.

I opened an unused cupboard door. It’s height was shockingly perfect. I sat the iPad in the cupboard using it’s small case to prop it up and the screen was perfectly level with my eye line. I excitedly typed a few words using the onscreen keyboard and…

it fell over.

I opened a kitchen drawer and found a Rubik’s Cube I hadn’t used in a year. Placing the Rubik’s Cube behind the iPad case created just enough reinforcement to keep it upright as I typed on the screen.

But there was another problem. The iPad moved backwards every time I touched the screen. So I knew writing using the on-screen keyboard was out of the questions. So I grabbed my solar, bluetooth keyboard.

A stand

I synced the keyboard with the iPad and sat it on my printer (which happened to be on the counter just below the iPad shelf). Luckily, the keyboard sitting on top of the printer was the exact height it needed to be for comfortable typing and good posture.

Keyboard stand solved.
My standing desk was now complete.

My Standing Desk

Here is my home made touch screen standing desk… in it’s simplistic glory.

Standing Desk SetupThe final touch-screen standing desk.

Standing Desk with Rubik's CubeThe Rubik’s Cube, that supports the iPad from behind.

Standing Desk - ClosedWhen not in use, I simply close the doors and remove the keyboard.

How I Use My Standing Desk

I’ve been doing all of my writing and editing on it. Standing and writing has a different energy, it feels good, and I’m writing faster than ever.

When I’m done writing, I simply take the keyboard back to my desk and close the kitchen cupboard doors. The entire setup disappears. No one would ever realize it was there.

  • It took about 15 minutes to solve my problem
  • I did not add a single product to my life
  • I did not spend any money

Standing Desk Success

For me, this was a major success, very much in line with the minimal lifestyle I am trying to live. And in the near future, when they come out with the latest, greatest standing, treadmill, robot massage, MP3 player desk with a coffee cup holder and a tanning bed attached… I’ll know that I don’t need it.

I simply push a button on my keyboard
Open two cupboard doors
And stand up

Problem solved.


  • Tung Tran

    I just put a chair on my desk :p Do you want to see a picture of my set up?

    • Malan Darras

      Tung – haha i DEFINITELY want to see that. post it here and i’ll approve it if needed

  • Lorne Fade

    Great innovation. I got my ipad2 + foldable stand/case + bluetooth keyboard that basically allows me to accomplish the same result. Portable content machine. Kitchen, Treadmill, Desktop, Living room, doesnt matter. The problem is the limitations with the ipad functionality as a whole but thats an entirely other topic.

    • Malan Darras

      Lorne, I’m just glad to finally have a use for the iPad… I was just about ready to get rid of it.

      • Lorne Fade

        Check out ByWord for your content creation. Its a sleek minimalist app for word processing that makes content creation a breeze.

        • Malan Darras

          yeahye that’s what i use. I attempted to use ‘Inkwell’ a free iPad writing app. but it froze 2-3 times and I lost all my writing, so I paid the $4.99 or whatever for Byword. I love that damn app.

  • DNter

    Cupboards don’t work for me. But the dryer’s a good height and smells fresh! (I’m just kidding)

    • Malan Darras

      perfect height, as long as you’re 2 feet tall.

  • Zingali

    The most disturbing thing about these pictures is the fact that you have a fax machine. My friend has a standing desk at his real estate office. I’ve tried this concept, but always end up having back pain after 20 minutes. I love the minimalism approach, though. Cool post, Malan.

    • Malan Darras

      haha. well – it’s a printer/scanner/copier all in one. just happens to fax as well.

  • Tobey Forsman

    This is so absurd it’s awesome.

    • Malan Darras

      Tobey – I find these two things (absurd & awesome) go together 99% of the time.

  • JW

    Hi Malan,

    I am only commenting on this post cause it’s the latest one. I have spent the last 2 days reading everything you’ve written, and I wanted to say thanks – After years of floundering, I finally get it. Thank you so much.

    • Malan Darras

      Stick with it JW. jump on the email list or FB group to stay in touch.

  • RSnider

    Absolute brilliance. A few months ago I put together a standing desk here out of empty monitor boxes, empty manila folder boxes, and a piece of disused siding. Worked perfectly.