Recently, I’ve been exploring the world of working from home. Part of that process is being able to set up a home office that is fun to work in—the primary piece of which is a desk where I can sit or where I can stand.
I did an enormous amount of searching for furniture. I had originally settled on a BDI Sequel Lift sit/stand desk, which is admittedly very gorgeous and nice to use. As of mid-July 2016, though, the price for the BDI Sequel Lift Desk was $1,599.00 before taxes and shipping. The Autonomous.ai Smart Desk 2 is built on the same core product and motorized engine, except it’s $299. Literally the same motor and base, with the difference only being some clever cord routing and the top glass/wood veneer. The shipping cost to have the BDI sit/stand desk delivered was quoted as $300 because I live in a rural area—this whole SmartDesk is cheaper than shipping itself.
(Also, shipping cost for these desks from Autonomous.ai is $49 per desk for the smaller version and $59 per desk for the larger version as of October 2016.)
I’m in the process of starting a coworking space up in a small town of Washington, and we’re purchasing the Autonomous.ai desks in bulk, because of how cheap they are and what incredible value they are. You can even buy a “DIY SmartDesk Kit” (Coupon in link) to create your own tabletop, or purchase a “SmartDesk Art” (Coupon in link) to get a specially-made tabletop from actual wood.
- Autonomous.ai “SmartDesk 2” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “SmartDesk Art” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “SmartDesk DIY Kit” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “ErgoChair 2” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “ErgoStool” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “Monitor Arm” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “Office Bike” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai “Cable Tray” Referral Link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai Cabinet Referral link for $25 each cabinet
- Autonomous.ai SmartDesk Studio Referral link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.ai SmartDesk mini Referral link for $25 off each item
- Autonomous.AI SmartDesk 3 Referral link for $25 off each item
- SmartDesk First Class Referral link for $25 off each item
Here’s a showing of how the $1,599 BDI sit/stand desk engine and base compares to this $299 Autonomous.AI Smart Desk 2:
(Notice how they’re the exact same? The BDI picture is a bit Photoshopped, but they’re the same base mechanism.
Update: February 2017.
These things are great. We purchased 12 ErgoChairs for our coworking space, and honestly I find the ErgoChair more comfortable than my Herman Miller Embody chair. I swapped out my home office chair so that the guest room has the Herman Miller and I use the Autonomous ErgoChair on a daily basis.
Things to know about the Home desk of the SmartDesk 2—assembly is not the easiest thing in the world. These desks are enormously heavy. The bases weigh at least 50 pounds, and the tabletops also way about 50 pounds. The chairs are very easy to put together.
Regarding tabletops, we got 6 walnut-top desks and 5 white-top desks. The white tops on the desk look pretty mediocre, especially in a fluorescent-lit office environment. They end up looking pretty sterile. But you can use whiteboard markers and write on them! We put four of the white-top desks together into one of the rooms and treated it like a mega conference table, and then you can draw on the desks with the whiteboard markers for some additional clarification.
The walnut tops are veneer, unsurprisingly, but aesthetically they look pretty good.
As a personal project, I’ve noticed that the table tops switch out very easily, just based on about 12 pre-drilled holes to attach the base to the top. I’m in the process of finishing a slab of live-edge walnut to replace one of the white tops—because the desk bases are universal to the top, if you’re not happy with one of the tops, you can basically treat the desk like the “DIY Kit” and put on your own top!
Update: May 2017.
We’ve outfitted our whole office with Autonomous.AI desks, chairs, monitor arms, stools.
The Autonomous.AI ErgoStools might be my favorite item. You’re supposed to lean on them, not put your entire weight on them, and that provides a great alternative to the normal sit/stand mix. It’s really pretty delightful (and cheap). I would definitely recommend these. They seem silly, but it’s really pleasant.
The Autonomous monitor arms do their job very well. They’re just as you would expect. They’re built to latch onto the back of the tabletop, but it looks like there’s a way you could rig your own attachment in the middle so you can do a straight-through a hole in the tabletop instead of jutting over the edge. They hold pretty surprisingly heavy monitors—we haven’t tried it on our ultra-heavy LG 5k monitors yet, but they might be the only monitor arms that can hold it so far.
The Autonomous AI Office Bike is a fun alternative to sitting, if you’re doing something where peddling on an office bike would still be professional (reading? writing notes?). The metal parts are well-constructed, but the plastic base covering leaves a bit of quality to be desired. I’ll forgive that given the price tag. The Office Bike is a surprising (to me) allure that our coworking customers keep raving about. I wouldn’t want to sit on it all day, but it’s a nice piece to throw into the mix along with the stool and chair!
Finally, the Autonomous AI Cable Tray helps to sort out cords. Honesty, this should probably just be included in the normal desk package or in the accessory package. Because we have so many of these sit/stand desks around the office (12 of them), and they all need power, there are cords everywhere. We use these cable trays to hold surge protectors, then every electronic on the desk goes to the surge protector. The surge protectors have long enough cords to reach wall outlets. This isn’t something you think about until raising your desk to full height almost pulls your monitor off the table because of the cord length.
Update: September 2017.
New product releases! We’ve ordered a few of these, and they’re great so far.
The Autonomous.ai SmartDesk mini we have in our server closet as a back-up call room. It’s useful because it doesn’t take as much space up, so we can cram it into a corner on an inexpensive normal table next to the printer and scanner. I love having a monitor at eye level without needing to secure monitor arms, too.
The Autonomous.ai SmartDesk Studio gives another option against the normal SmartDesk 2—smaller space usage. This is pretty vital as we’re trying to expand our coworking space, because our largest constraint is the amount of desks available for members to sit at. The SmartDesk 2 (the smaller version) is spacious, which is great when we’ve had few members in. Now that we have more members, we’re needing to think creatively about how to expand. The answer? Autonomous.ai SmartDesk Studio. We’re actually in the process of replacing all of our SmartDesk 2 (the larger version) with these Studios (the smaller versions), and we should be able to increase our coworking membership cap by 20%—aka, increase our maximum profit margin by quite a bit.
Finally, the Autonomous.ai Cabinet is pretty surprisingly nice. I honestly don’t expect much from office cabinets in this style, so the bar is pretty low, but these actually are pretty aesthetically appealing with their fabric liners in the drawer fronts. Each cabinet has two keys to lock it. Even though there’s only one keyhole, when you lock that single keyhole, none of the draws opens. That’s great, because we’ve started renting out monthly cabinet space to floating desk members and dedicated desk members—we give them one of the keys, and we keep the other key. We record the key number on their accounts in our records, and that way we have access if they ever disappear or anything. Each cabinet is on four wheels, but we actually have plans to purchase quite a few of these (~12), remove the wheels, stack them on top of each other, secure them together and to the wall, and make a kind of wall of cabinets/lockers in the server room. Renting cabinet space has been a great, simple up-sell to floating desk members.