Workplace Unplugged

Sit-to-Stand Desks: How to Find Function and Beauty

Moira vandenAkker
January 6th, 2017

Nate Poniatowski head shotStudies have found that an increase in standing throughout the day will improve your workforce’s productivity anywhere from 30 to 65 percent because it makes you more alert, and helps get your blood flowing. However, Americans are currently sitting an average of 13 hours a day, and sleeping for 8 hours a night, which results in being sedentary for a total of 21 hours per day*. Sit-to-stand desks, such as the beautifully designed Attollo Desk, provide a solution to the sedentary nature of today’s workforce. 

In this Workplace Unplugged interview, we chatted with Nate Poniatowski, Founder and Designer of Attollo Desk, an innovative and sleek sit-to-stand desk. Attollo Desk is an electric sit-to-stand desk that sits upon your existing desk and is designed to inspire health, productivity and an energetic lifestyle. 

We asked Nate to share a little bit of  background about himself and what led him to found Attollo Desk.

NP: I went to school for mechanical engineering and once I graduated I started working in the automotive industry. I was on my feet most of the day presenting to the press and the public. I had a job that required me to travel a lot, but when I was working I was standing on my feet. A few years ago I started working for a small software startup in Denver and I was sitting at my desk for hours and hours at a time. We were also working with a lot of clients out of Silicon Valley and I noticed a trend of people making their own makeshift standing desks. I started trying it a bit myself and I realized how lethargic I was around 3pm from sitting all day. I also noticed how mentally and physically drained I was when I’d get home. So I started to look to see what was available on the market. What I found wasn’t all that appealing and I thought ‘hey, with my background, I can design a better sit to stand desk than what’s available. I knew if I focused on better functionality as well as a stylish design I would really be on to something! 


 desk computer stacked books height dual monitor tech code dark workspace

We thought the Attollo demo video was beautiful. We asked Nate to tell us a little bit more about Attollo Desk and what makes it different from other standing desks on the market.

NP: Like I said, I knew that I could create something that was better than what was on the market so with Attollo Desk, we started looking at it from a couple of different angles. First from a design standpoint; what was missing on the market functionally, and second how could we also make it extremely aesthetically pleasing. Generally speaking, on the market today there are only two different options for standing desks. You can buy a full-on desk that moves up and down, or you can buy one that sits on your existing desk (as Attollo Desk does) which turns your existing desk into and sit-to-stand desk.

Now, there are hundreds of options already out there for full on desks that go up and down, and typically they are expensive. There weren’t many options that convert your existing desk into a sit to stand desk, and none that had a great design.  If you think about it, most corporations don’t want to buy hundreds of completely new desks for all of their employees. That’s the beauty of Attollo Desk, you can utilize your existing desk and not undermine the look of your office. So with our design, we created it so that the desk moves vertically, straight up and down, so when it goes up and down you don’t have to step backward as it moves up.

Another nice feature is the fact that it’s electric. Many people utilize sit to stand desks because they have back problems, yet most of the products out there require you to lean forward, reach quite a ways back on the desk, grab some handles and pull up. They’re typically spring-assisted but still require some lifting with your back and bending over. With Attollo Desk just push a button to effortlessly go from sitting to standing.

Attollo Desk Bamboo.jpegAnd then there are all sorts of other great design elements with Attollo. We incorporated cable-management holes in the back to help reduce cable clutter. The work surface moves straight up and down and has ample room for writing; others on the market have a large cut out to make room for a keyboard tray which eliminates room for anything other than monitors. Our keyboard tray sits below the work surface and slides in and out on tracks.

And then the materials we use are really premium. We offer different desk surfaces like bamboo or solid wood core desks. All of the metal components are anodized aluminum, opposed to a painted steel that is typically used. The anodized aluminum not only gives a great look, but is strong and lightweight. Our goal was to create a product that functions better than anything on the market and looks better while doing it.

designing and creating a standing desk workplace unplugged

When designing the Attollo Desk, we asked Nate what his primary concerns were and what challenges he faced in the process.

NP: I ran into all sorts of challenges. I thought I would have had the desk completed and designed about a year ago,. It has been two years of prototyping and making small adjustments here and there. There were numerous design challenges that I ran into. One, the keyboard tray that I just mentioned. I really wanted to create a design that would allow the desk to move up and down, but also have a keyboard tray tucked away into it. The desk is electric, so there must be electric motors somewhere, but I wanted to make them very streamlined and not take away from the look of the desk. So the motors are tucked under the work surface, giving the appearance that there are no motors. I A large design challenge was to get everything to fit very compactly together. So, let’s say the desk is down in a fully closed position. Each of the different components, from the base surface, to the arms, to the pivot points to the motors, to the sliding keyboard tray, all need to align perfectly  so that they take up as little space as possible and maintain the beautiful intent of the desk. 

If a facilities manager wanted to make a business case for bringing Attollo Desks into the office, what advice would you have for them? What selling points are most important for bottom-line business results?

NP: This is a great question. Most standing desks on the market focus on the health benefits they provide, whereas we focus on the added productivity and energy they give you. Don’t get me wrong, the health benefits are astounding and are a big factor in why you should use a standing desk, but we know there is much more to it.

Our slogan at Attollo Desk is “Elevate your Life”, not just elevate your health.

There are different studies that say standing more throughout the day will improve your workforce’s productivity anywhere from 30 to 65 percent. When you sit down and lean forward there are things that reduce focus that you don’t realize, such as your diaphragm is constrained so you can’t breathe properly, preventing your body from receiving the required oxygen to operate optimally. Standing more also makes you more alert, encourages coworker collaboration and increases energy. There’s all these different really fascinating things that I  learned when I started doing the research into the benefits of standing more.

One fact that I learned is when you sit for numerous hours throughout the day, fluid will build up in your legs; then at night this fluid will transfer to your lungs and your neck and lead to all sorts of issues. Other undesirable results associated with sitting too much are sleep apnea, increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of diabetes, and all sorts of different issues we previously didn’t associate with sitting

Nate tells us how when you think about the theory behind standing desks, it is very logical.

NP: Human beings are not meant to be sedentary creatures, we’re meant to move around – to be hunters and gatherers. However, now we sit the majority of our awake lives. We sit at our desks, we seat during meetings, we sit during our commute, we sit while watching tv or checking social media, and we sit during every single meal we eat.  Research shows that human beings sit from 10 to 14 hours a day – which is just crazy. But when you sit down to think about it, (no pun intended) you realize that those numbers are accurate for the majority of us.

If somebody in facilities is looking into purchasing standing desks, there’s just so much information out there now that shows how beneficial they are for an organization. And if you’re not interested in paying a premium for full standing desks for all of your employees, then Attollo Desk is a no-brainer. The design, attractiveness and price make Attollo Desk the most healthy and productive option you can offer your employees

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If you’re interested in learning more about the health concerns of sitting, Nate recommends a book by Kelly Starrett called Desk Bound: Standing Up to a Sitting World.

NP: Kelly Starrett’s book, Desk Bound is fascinating. It’s amazing how thick this book is, it’s like a few hundred pages that covers how sitting is so detrimental to our health, and it highlights a few of the things I went over about being more productive. He’s a pretty accomplished guy too, he’s had a couple of New York Times Best Selling books, he’s a coach and a physical therapist for a number of famous athletes – so a reputable guy. And fascinating once you dig into all the research and facts behind it.

Attollo Desk launched a Kickstarter campaign this past November and achieved more than 50 percent of their funding goal on their first day going live with the campaign. However, Nate explains why they decided to temporarily cancel their Kickstarter campaign within a week of launching – just $6000 short of their goal.

NP: There’s really a few different reasons we decided to cancel the campaign temporarily. Things just started piling up. We did do extremely well right at the beginning of our launch, raised 65 percent of our goal in the first day and a half, and then after a few days, we had hit almost 75 percent of our goal. So we would have hit our goal by the end of the 30 day period. But as we were going, we were learning things. We wanted the word about Attollo Desk to spread more like wildfire.  Additionally, we were starting to learn that we could possibly bring it to market at a lower price point, and also create a couple more efficiencies within the business, that ultimately would allow us to deliver a better product to our customers in the long run.

It was a really hard to cancel the campaign because we didn’t want to let down our current backers. In the end we know it was the right decision because it will help make the business stronger,  is  better for the overall product and ultimately will be better for our customers.

To wrap things up, we asked Nate what his favorite part about everything he is doing with Attollo Desks right now. 

NP: Oh man, I think my absolute favorite part has yet to come when we do the relaunch and get it out to the masses and positively affect so many people’s lives.  It’s really is incredible the difference it makes in your life when you start standing more. But up to this point, I absolutely love the design process and creating a beautiful product. I absolutely love Apple computers and what they’ve done for the computer industry. When h the PC came along, it did what it did, and it did a pretty good job of it. Then Steve Jobs came along and said ‘hey, we can do this better and not only make a better computer, but we can actually make this thing look incredible as well.’ I felt that way while designing Attollo. The market is desperate for a better functioning standing desk and one that will enhance the look of your office not be an eyesore. So, I really enjoyed the design process of it and just coming up with something unique that can positively affect others.

Attollo Desk with woman standing.jpegTo stay informed about Attollo Desk’s Kickstarter relaunch, email [email protected]. If you would like to reach out to Nate directly, you can reach him at [email protected]




Do you use sit-to-stand desks at your office? What has your experience with your workforce been using sit-to-stand desks? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

*Retrieved from PRNewsWire: New Survey: To Sit or Stand? Almost 70% of Full Time American Workers Hate Sitting, but They do it all Day Every Day
Photos:Lee Campbell, Karlo Pusic, Pixabay