Design Philosophy

Human-Centered Design For The Ergonomic Office

Focal Upright’s products were born of need. While working to get his first company, KEEN Footwear, off the ground, Martin Keen, Focal’s founder and CEO, could not find a comfortable working position. He had been sitting on a high stool at a drafting table, which made him feel like a slumped-over slug. He tried standing, which was better, but found it was tiring after an hour or two.

Finally, from a corner of the barn, Keen dug out an old, rusting stool made from a metal tractor seat. He tipped the stool forward and began leaning against the seat. Within moments he realized he was on to something. That place between sitting and standing seemed like an ideal solution.


The new work configuration increased Keen’s focus and productivity, but now more and more of his design time was spent sketching the ideal adjustable standing desk and seat that were taking shape in his mind. Twelve years, four hundred and fifty-six drawings, forty-two scale models and twenty working prototypes later, Focal Upright was born.

Though Focal’s product line has grown, Keen’s simple design philosophy has stayed the same – form follows function. Keen’s designs look radical, unlike anything else on the market, yet behind them is a close affinity with world-renowned ergonomics and health experts. Dr. Galen Cranz, author of The Chair: Rethinking Culture Body and Design and a pioneer in the field of body-conscious design, is a member of Focal’s Advisory Board. Inactivity physiology researcher Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La who has pioneered the unlikely field of inactivity physiology, has collaborated with Focal on a webinar that looks in-depth at the problem with long-term sitting. Josh Kerst, an ergonomics expert who has consulted for major corporations worldwide, is Focal’s Principal Ergonomist.


Keen’s products offer a stripped-down, modern aesthetic that combines health, functionality and efficiency. His designs, whether a pair of durable sandals or an upright workstation, are known for supporting your body in a healthy, neutral posture so you are able to focus on what matters most.

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