THE DESIGNER – Martin Keen

There are two essential facts you should know about Focal’s founder, Martin Keen.

  1. Martin Keen is a perpetual fidgeter. Growing up, little Martin was constantly told to sit down and stay still. But that brings us to the second fact…
  2. Martin Keen is a rule breaker.

Fast forward to the year 2000, Martin was working long hours getting his first company, KEEN Footwear off the ground. One problem: he couldn’t find a comfortable working posture. He did his best thinking while standing up, but he could only stand comfortably for an hour or two at a time. So, Martin set out to design himself a new kind of chair that kept him both physically engaged and comfortable.

In a moment of inspiration, Martin spotted an old, rusting stool made from a metal tractor seat in the corner of his barn. He tipped the stool forward and began leaning against the seat. Martin had found it: that place between sitting and standing seemed like the perfect posture.

The initial seat hardly looked like a chair to anyone but Martin. One friend said it looked like a medieval torture device. His own wife (now Focal’s managing director) rolled her eyes at the design. Yet, Martin remained undeterred and kept iterating. Twelve years, four hundred and fifty-six drawings, forty-two scale models and twenty working prototypes later, Focal Upright and the Locus Workstation was born.

Though Focal’s product line has grown, Keen’s simple design philosophy has stayed the same. Your body is a tool, and your products should support it. ‘Nuff said.

Martin Keen Focal Upright Launch Interview With INC. from Focal Upright on Vimeo.