Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
Whether you're a digital nomad or work at home, the design of LAPOD allows you to work professionally anywhere in comfort with all you need right at your fingertips.
No more balancing your laptop on your knee, battery indicator flashing, juggling charger and plug, while searching your bag for your earbuds to take that incoming video call. LAPOD is big enough to hold whatever you require: chargers, cables, mouse, portable drives, USBs, power-packs, a tablet, stylus... or simply a pen and pad.
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The LAPOD lap desk is the first product for startup design company objct co, which launched in 2018. The aim of objct co is to create inspiring designs that help simplify and organise your life.
LAPOD is made from only two parts - a work-surface and a storage pod, in just two materials - P.E.T felt and bamboo.
One of the key design considerations was to allow users quick and easy access to whatever they have stored inside their lap desk: everything is within reach when needed. The simple design can be opened single-handed without disturbing what is on top of the work-surface, thereby minimising disturbance to workflow. LAPOD is opened via a simple cutaway in the work-surface which also acts as a cable routing path, used for example when plugging your laptop into a power-pack or portable hard drive located inside the storage pod.
The storage pod is made from premium quality nonwoven P.E.T felt (used in acoustics and auto interiors), which is moulded into a thin-wall monocoque 'soft' shell seamlessly integrating the function of a comfortable lap cushion with a large storage compartment for peripherals and accessories. Aside from being very robust and durable, the P.E.T material is made up of both recycled and raw material and is recyclable at end-of-life.
The work-surface is made from sustainably grown, laminated and layered bamboo – which whilst thin and lightweight is also biodegradable at end-of-life.
In its minimal form, LAPOD is a gentle balance between function, efficient material use, ergonomic considerations, sustainable design and pushing the boundaries of existing manufacturing processes.
Taking its cues from the crossover of our home and work environments, LAPOD is a product suited to either; be it working on a laptop in a breakout space of an open plan office or relaxing into the softness of a lounge suite at home to pen-a-letter.
We are now more than ever a nomadic workforce carrying with us all our devices, peripherals and connected things. Though packed away in our bag or hidden out of reach in a drawer 'somewhere', they can become an inconvenience when sought after and an interruption to our workflow. And yet, if all laid out in front of us when unused like an Instagram #flatlay, all our things can be distracting. Having your work tools and accessories at your fingertips whilst simultaneously providing the necessary blank slatewith which one can focus provides much-needed mental clarity and calm in this age of distraction. LAPOD's real-life impact is the convenient and frictionless user experience it offers.
During the design process a series of realisations occurred that presented the possibility for something truly new and innovative existing. They were:1/ A lap desk cushion does not need to be made from upholstered foam or even beanbag material to be 'soft'. 2/ There is no reason that lap desks need to be rectilinear in form, i.e. like laptops. Instead, the lap desk 'type form' should be curved/ organic in arrangement to be more suited to the person using it. Finally, 3/ Having a removable worksurface means whatever is on top does not need to be removed to reach whatever is inside (for example, like a hinged lid would, versus moving the work-surface in a planar direction).
Ergonomically, we work in a multitude of different positions: sitting upright or reclined, knees together or spread, maybe one leg over the other, or even sitting cross-legged. Additionally, we aren't really designed to stay sitting still; we are often a shifting combination of all the above. Yet once we leave our desks the alternatives for work points that can effectively and enticingly accommodate the peripheral work thingswe need, tapers off sharply. So, we stay often at our desks un-moving, uncomfortable, or possibly nomadically venture out with our hands full or our bags packed with our stuff.
As such, the function of LAPOD's gentle sweeping form is to fit usjust as well as it fits our things. Refining an ergonomic design for the lap desk so that it was comfortable for work anywhere in any way people choose to sit, whilst being aesthetically beautiful, was a further important design requirement.
The production development task was finding the most suitable complementary materials and manufacturing processes that allow for essential user features without adding unnecessary parts, over-mouldings, fabrication processes or assembly. Many alternatives were explored, such as formed leather and moulded silicone for the storage pod, and even anodised CNC aluminium for the work-surface.
Moulding the storage pod from premium quality nonwoven fibre into a rigid felt was an innovation that resulted in a material that is soft to touch yet sturdy and tough, thin and lightweight yet strong, colour-fast, and completely washable. In the end, the brief for a soft 'homely' feel was achieved with a deeply textural aesthetic.
For the work-surface, a multi-layered, laminated bamboo whose standard material properties (greater tensile strength than steel and capacity to withstand more compression than concrete, and biodegradable at end-of-life) allow it to be tactile, strong and lightweight – all at a mere 10mm thick. Bamboo is currently enjoying a renaissance of sorts that is seeing both its unparalleled value and environmental story as combined highlights.
In addition, LAPOD's environmental credentials go beyond material selection and the factory doors, and into shipping and logistics for global distribution. The design of the two separable parts allows vertical stacking of individual elements without creating negative space or voids - therefore no transportation of expensive 'dead air' (often the case with storage products and furniture).
Although highly durable and long lasting, at eventual end-of-life these same two single-material parts require no disassembly. A design transformation of the distribution chain prior to the useful life of the product then extends well into the products afterlife.
This led to a great learning of the project, which was the realisation that honest materials are common materials made new by design.
The LAPOD lap desk design cannot be reduced further without losses in utility or experience to the end-user. Though easily overlooked, its overarching innovation is its simplicity – a minimal form with maximum function. Or to quote Einstein "everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler."
LENGTH ~ 48 cm / 18.86"
WIDTH ~ 32 cm / 12.72"
HEIGHT ~ 6.5 cm / 2.56"
STORAGE DEPTH ~ 5 cm / 1.97"
STORAGE VOLUME ~ 4.5L / 274.6 cu in
WEIGHT ~ 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb