Case Study: Creating an office furniture company that moves with you.




When Focal’s founder Martin Keen, of Keen Footwear, came to OCTO, Focal was a non-company with a rough prototype. Mr. Keen had an idea to change the way we sit at a desk for work and we had to realize that idea through making. In a nutshell, Keen wanted to make a perch-like seat that allowed a user to be supported, but still active and mostly upright. He was concerned about the alarming health data coming out around sitting at desk all day long. 

It was our responsibility to translate that vision into a product that could both fit in and stand out in a crowded marketplace. We're proud of our long, fruitful relationship with Focal and continue to collaborate on new, exciting products to support the Upright Revolution.


We did so by building more than 50 prototypes; hacking out parts and finding inspiration in uncommon sources such as wind surfing equipment, farm implements, and bent wood furniture. It took a strange brew of understanding competitors in the market, and tangential markets, and seeking unique references for a product that had no real forebears. 

Through vigorous prototyping and testing, we were able to nail down the physical constraints and limits of this furniture system. Because of the real ergonomic implications of these products, the prototypes we made were made to sit in and work at–not just to look at for scale and details.


We prototyped to learn as much as we could about the various body types and how different styles of working could affect this system. We put people in all stages of prototypes–we made it a high goal of this project to always bring the product back to people–to always check in with bodies for a product that is for aiding the body.

Learnings from our ergonomic tests helped determine many things, including the placing of fixed parts, the limits of adjustable functions, and material types and strengths.



Our deep knowledge of manufacturing processes and assembly workflows became two-fold in the realization phase of Focal’s product development: Snags in the manufacturing process were able to be quickly discovered, assessed, and a solution put in place. It allowed Focal to manage most of the assembly in their Rhode Island, USA factory – we designed and fabricated many of the innovative assembly tools in Focal’s facility. 

Since designing the Locus Workstation, we’ve been deeply involved in all of Focal’s product offerings and continue to be a strategic partner in understanding and designing for the changing needs of productive people and their workspaces. Focal’s product line has since expanded to the Mobus Seat, Mogo, and Confluence conference table– all through our diligent process of prototyping, making, and testing.