Jump to content

Rapid Prototyping Services
dog crates nz
Ground Anchors and Piles
moving out cleaning singapore
- - - - -

Mobile Workstation

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

Poll: Please answer the poll for research (20 member(s) have cast votes)

What equipment would you want on the go to do full design work?

  1. Range of drawing tools - Pens, pencils, colours, ruler, rubber, sharpener... (9 votes [10.59%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.59%

  2. Very basic drawing tools - 1 pen & 1 pencil (6 votes [7.06%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.06%

  3. Mouse (10 votes [11.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.76%

  4. Notepad (5 votes [5.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.88%

  5. Earphones (12 votes [14.12%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.12%

  6. iPod (11 votes [12.94%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.94%

  7. Laptop Charger (9 votes [10.59%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.59%

  8. A4 Paper (10 votes [11.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.76%

  9. Laptop (13 votes [15.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.29%

What shape do you prefer just taking into account aesthetics?

  1. Sharp, Crisp, Clean (6 votes [30.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.00%

  2. Ergonomic, flowing, fluid (11 votes [55.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 55.00%

  3. Utility, gadget packed (3 votes [15.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.00%

What shape do you prefer just taking into account functionality?

  1. Sharp, Crisp, Clean (7 votes [35.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 35.00%

  2. Ergonomic, flowing, fluid (8 votes [40.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.00%

  3. Utility, gadget packed (5 votes [25.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 25.00%


  1. Anodized aluminium (13 votes [34.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 34.21%

  2. Solid Wood (6 votes [15.79%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.79%

  3. Thin Veneered real Wood (2 votes [5.26%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.26%

  4. Plastic with wood effect (1 votes [2.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.63%

  5. Plastic (9 votes [23.68%])

    Percentage of vote: 23.68%

  6. Leather (6 votes [15.79%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.79%

  7. Glasss (1 votes [2.63%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.63%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 Guest_LERsince1991_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 June 2009 - 09:17 PM


I've posted this on my website and another forum and thought I'd put it on here... it's a project I started like 2 days ago in the spare time I have. I am going to copy and paste my posts here as well as it takes too long to re-type everything



Heres a catchup so far!



Well, I’m just about to finish my exams and have 3.5 months off before starting uni. I have plans to spontaneously travel for a month in Europe, develop my ‘Novanta’ desk design and work full time at 2 jobs. I still feel like it's time for a new project :D

When I was thinking of ideas for my A level product design course’s project I was thinking about something to do with wood and laptops as I think it’s not used enough and it would be very luxurious if done well. So here I'm going to show the development of my thoughts, ideas and then finally the build.

I also want to look into the possibilities of customizing my macbook or building some sort of case for it.


Carbon Fiber Macbook Imitation

Oak + Leather Macbook Case

Curvy plywood macbook case

Laser Etched Macbook

‘Pimp my macbook’ flickr pool

Macbook Stickers

Macbook Case - ‘Kawaii’

Possible Ideas:

Work on Macbook case for 13” aluminium Macbook, develop ideas from plywood and oak cases and treat as a proper product. Make functional to a few hold books/papers, drawing equipment, iPod, laptop, mouse, earphones or maybe headphones. Possible materials; Metal, wood, leather, plastic.

Use old Acer laptop’s components and develop a new case/shell for them; redesigning the laptop. Possible materials; wood, plastic.


I have a 5 year old Acer laptop lying on my floor and has been for the last 2 months, I want to do something with it. I can take it to bits totally and rebuild it in under an hour because I have done it so many times.
I have 2 large blocks of very attractive and dense walnut left over from when my house’s kitchen was redone a year ago. I’d like to use these ... (the rest of the left over is my current desk)
I have some resources available such as; (white) plastic, the finest Italian leather used on £5000 furniture, vacuum forming, CNC machinery and possibly laser cutting/etching.

Your Part

I'd be very interested if anyone reading this could add their thoughts and maybe some resources/articles that you have came across before.


Thanks for the really good replies, I have read them all properly and wrote a quick brief with them all in mind!

I've had some ideas and made a mock up of one of them so far.
Had about 2-3 hours on the project so far.

I'm probably going to go down the sort of 'portable workstation' route but I am open to trying other things out.

The idea is to make a 'Portable workstation' for designers. There could be different versions for each size macbook, obviously the bigger the laptop, the bigger the case and the more equipment that could be carried around.

I'm conscious of the weight at the moment but I'm sure it will be alright. Hardwoods are stronger than people think so it would not need to be that chunky, could also be supported with some light aluminium if needed.

In this idea at the moment I was able to create a useful 'portable workstation' which is tailored to holding a 13" Macbook (dimensions need tweaking but its just a mock up) as well as paper, iPod/iPhone, drawing equipment such as pens, pencils etc...

The macbook slot is lined with thick white leather for a snug fit and really good protection.

There is space on the open part of the case for more things, I am looking into how I can store the paper more securely, a good way to hold earphones (maybe DJ headphones with the 17" version), this would probably be some sort of quick access and simple pouch. The same goes for the mouse.

I also have an idea that the mouse 'pad' can slide out on the right (maybe left as well) as a piece of thin wood and then slot back in when not in use. This would slot back inside the separation between the macbook and paper/worktop.

The separation between the macbook and worktop may be made thicker to accommodate this mouse pad and also probably have a thin (5mm?) slot to slide papers inside and out. 5mm would be able to hold quite a few pieces of paper.

It's mainly a matter of jiggling all the different areas and components around to best fit them in to a small space.

The separations on the outside of the case would be made smaller with small tolerances, (about 0.5mm?). That gap would then need to be made watertight. This could be done with some rubber which can compress quite a bit to make a very tight seal. It would be so that the gaps would be completely filled on the outside and completely flush with the wood so that it would be a stylish black strip

The handle would need very good padding and ergonomics but I like the shape so maybe there could be a metal frame thats very ergonomic then padding and leather can be added. The finish would match the macbook's as near as possible.

Oh and also the handle is slightly off center =) This is because the center of balance is also off center. The weight of the macbook would be heavier than the weight of the iPod, pencils and paper. This offset should help equalize the balance and be more comfy.

The wood used in these visualizations is Cedar simply because it was the only nice material I have on my software but I will track down some other woods soon.

Think thats about it

Edit: I know, I need to get the new iPod's in the visuals but i did it quickly and couldn't find an anodized iPod classic quickly.
Also I'm thinking I could be sneaky and if I make this I could put make a nice white apple from plastic and embed it into the case, the side that flips out. Perfect :P ... Maybe a little metal name tag embedded too so no one can steal it easily.
ALSO, Take a look at the first images I supplied above. just look at how bad the plywood compares to the oak case (looks like Oak). A quality hardwood is the way to go.
oh and the images below are fairly hi-res so its worth a look properly by clicking on them.


Thanks for the comments!

Ok so heres a more complete visualization. I think the next step would be to tweak to dimensions and make it all fit perfectly. I am quite happy with this design.

Added some features and the mouse tray.

I like the opening method (looks cool and unique) and how quickly someone can set up a workstation to draw on with everything at the ready.

Also added the design to my website.



"So when using the laptop you would simply place it on the little tray where the paper is? No interference with the lid?? I really like the slide out mousepad - very handy if it's sturdy enough to deal with my heavy wrists

Great design! A nice cherry wood with a little more padding here and there and I would like it even more"

Exactly, open and everythings at the ready then simply close when you want to move.

It's sort of what a laptop is for a computer I suppose.

When you want to use the laptop just slide it out of the leather padded area and place onto the 'worktop' (where the paper is). Open up, get your mouse out, slide open the mouse tray and then play on your Mac haha.

In reply to your comment about the strength, the wood would need to be as thin as possible to reduce weight and size, and increase the usable area inside. Therefore the wood may need bracing with some other material, most likely a steel or aluminium plate.
The mouse tray is actually twice the size shown in the render but I would say it would only allow to be pulled out that far, therefore there is a good amount of strength in it. This is instead of having it pull out as far as possible then putting massive strain on the tray and the case itself.

Actually I've just thought! I could make a tray slide out of both sides. This would accommodate both left and right handed users and would offer a secondary tray so that a notepad or a drink could be placed on it.

I've got my design exams tomorrow which finish at 12:30 so I am going to make a quick mock-up prototype out of MDF to check the sizes and some mechanisms... Can't wait

Oh and yeh... I need to work on the ergonomics which may be hard with such an angular design but the prototype will help with this.

I would also make the design come in some options of woods and finishes. Personally I would like Oak, Cedar, Walnut variant but others may prefer cherry or teak.


Edit: Added the Apple logo... Not sure if I like it with or without. Obviously its very eye catching and iconic with it but without it has its own identity and looks more minimal and professional?

I have a possible name for it; 'Lavoro'


Attached Images

  • Case_Version_3.65.jpg

#2 Guest_Siona_*

  • Guests

Posted 12 June 2009 - 11:50 AM

Nice idea - I'm all for using more wood and less plastic!

A couple of observations: How do you get the pens out??? (at the moment the lip of the lid is in the way), and secondly, The side edges that stick up when it's opened would really annoy me if I'm trying to sketch as I tend to have my arm at an angle and move the paper about a lot.

I know it's still in its early stages, but how would you secure it closed? I like the clean look of it when it's closed in the renderings, but you'd need a strong clip or lock or something to stop an expensive laptop falling out.

Nice renderings by the way - the edges are a little sharp (my wrists'll get shredded!) but it's a great start :specool:

#3 Guest_newt @ MWE_*

Guest_newt @ MWE_*
  • Guests

Posted 12 June 2009 - 02:12 PM

I'll have to admit, I did not read the entire write up, so you may have addressed some of these points.

My first reaction to the case is that it looks heavy. Thats alot of wood to be carrying around.

I believe you talked about the ergonomic issues but a couple observations, the sharp edge on the front where your wrists would sit and the front edge of mouse tray would most likely be very uncomfortable. The raised walls surrounding the work area may make it difficult to sketch and access the sides of the laptop (for usb and battery plugs).

Aesthetically its a nice design, very rational and clean. It certainly communicates work.


#4 Guest_LERsince1991_*

  • Guests

Posted 13 June 2009 - 06:22 PM

Thanks for the good feedback both of you!
And thanks for the good comments :D

I will admit there are a few important issues to be resolved at the moment but as it stands, personally I love the looks and concept (which is why I am designing it ;) lol)


- For the mechanisms that hold the equipment in I will need to work on that, good observation (actually just been raised in another forum at the same time!). I think I'll be going down a route where there is a rubbery grooved bit on the lid where the pens/pencils push into and held in by friction.

- To hold the lid shut I wanted something seamless and invisible but thats hard. I was thinking along the lines of small magnets embedded in the wood so it snaps shut :) But the Macbook! I think if it wasn't for a laptop neodymium magnets would be perfect but I think it will have to be some sort of visible clips on the outside, 2 in fact.

- Thanks for the rendering comment. 'Tis the handy work of simply Google sketchup and Bunkspeed Hypershot.

newt @ MWE

- I don't blame you for not reading all my thoughts... :P
I'm thinking it would be just over 1Kg. + the weight of the contents. It would be heavier than a material bag but about the same as a good metal case. I want to spread the weight out and make it as ergonomic as possible. The handle will look the same as it is in the renders but the middle shaft thats held my the user will be metal wrapped in good padding and thick white leather. I also want to have 2 small holes in the sides so that a strap can be used in conjunction with the handle to spread the weight out.

- Ergonomics - If you look closely at a Macbook's aluminium unibody, the edges looks very sharp but they feel a bit softer than they should. There is actually a very small diagonal slice out of it. I want to keep the outside of the case similar to this to keep the crisp, sharp look. But as you've mentioned it's a different story where the user rests, I will have to round them very slightly. Also the 'lips' on the sides aren't good. i am looking into that atm (will attach some renders). I like them when its not being used as the lines of the lid on the outside are nice but it's not practical.
Yup thanks; Looks nice but needs working on :P

As an added note; I am working on the prototype of the concept atm (be it a very quite 1:1 model in MDF). It will help get a feel for 'what should be' in the design. So far I have learnt the size is really practical and suited.


Attached Images

  • 3.4.jpg
  • Lavoro___Ergonomic.jpg
  • 3.86.jpg
  • Lavoro___Oak.jpg

#5 Guest_Siona_*

  • Guests

Posted 18 June 2009 - 03:52 PM

Awesome, sounds like you're putting a lot of thought into this :blink:

A shame it's just for the mac-users though. I'm sure there are other laptops that would fit, but your apple mouse has its own custom made pocket that my mouse would definitely not fit in.

Can't wait to see some photos of the mock-up!

#6 Guest_LERsince1991_*

  • Guests

Posted 22 June 2009 - 11:16 PM

Ok so I've started to get more time now, I'm going to start developing this a bit more hopefully. I will be reading and replying to the feed back - as well as using it for development of the product.

I've just started to make the design much more fluid and ergonomic whilst maintaining the sharp, crisp and clean design!

Heres the first change I've made, just thought I'd post it here and explain my thinking at the moment.


Attached Images

  • Lavoro___Version_1.7.jpg

#7 Guest_AutomóvilVerde_*

  • Guests

Posted 23 June 2009 - 06:33 AM

one thing that I would have a really big problem with is the sides when you open it. Everything else is really good, and it would be something I would buy, if those sides weren't there...

#8 Guest_Siona_*

  • Guests

Posted 23 June 2009 - 09:44 AM

I like what you've done with it - it's really starting to take shape. I like that you've removed the edges for drawing (you've even got a fillet in there! Gasp! ;) )

What kind of environment do you see this being used in (apologies if you've already said this in a previous post). in lectures? out and about? on the train? on the sofa? I'm just curious.

One more thing (just being picky again), I'm pretty sure the lid won't close over that mouse...


#9 Guest_AutomóvilVerde_*

  • Guests

Posted 23 June 2009 - 07:05 PM

oh, just noticed that you don't have the edges there anymore, I like it now :)

#10 Guest_Karl Baxter_*

Guest_Karl Baxter_*
  • Guests

Posted 24 June 2009 - 04:29 AM

i think it's pretty cool. maybe you could put the rubber strips on the non-moving part, not the lid. that'd help with a bit of padding especially at the front corners where the lid closes - it looks like that might still be a sore point. it'd stop the macbook from slipping off or something if you were using it on the train as well. what is that black thing between the earphones and mouse?

#11 Guest_LERsince1991_*

  • Guests

Posted 08 July 2009 - 01:49 PM

I've added a poll for research if people would be willing to take a few seconds and just fill it in for me please?

I'm practicing my sketching at the moment (on a thread in the sketching topic) so I will come round to developing this more on paper soon!

Heres a company I came across that seems to love wood and apple products too! Check it out!

Translated website:


#12 Guest_Siona_*

  • Guests

Posted 08 July 2009 - 02:54 PM

I've added a poll for research if people would be willing to take a few seconds and just fill it in for me please?

I'm practicing my sketching at the moment (on a thread in the sketching topic) so I will come round to developing this more on paper soon!

Heres a company I came across that seems to love wood and apple products too! Check it out!

Translated website:


wow, That's awesome! I gotta get me one of those wooden keyboards!

#13 Guest_Arian_*

  • Guests

Posted 10 July 2009 - 08:43 PM

this is absoloutly cute...

awww crap! another of my projects already made... lol!

a few weeks ago I asked our teacher to design a mobile designer's kit like yours, she dismissed it and said do something else, not that i listened, i was starting on doing this project and here i'm seeing it already taking life... well thanks to you :)

sometimes the design world is just to small, i would definately buy this, if it wasn't heavy.
great idea, i think this is something that most of us designers need.

best of luck in your project.

#14 Guest_LERsince1991_*

  • Guests

Posted 14 July 2009 - 11:09 PM

Heres a major update

Haha :) You'll be able to rip this easily, I haven't developed it much!

There are flaws... I'll let you spot them ;)

The slot at the bottom probably doesn't need to be there so the case can be sleeker, lighter and thinner.
I just stuck a handle anywhere for now, thats not the focus of the concept atm.
I forgot to do a render to show the little 'supports' at the back which come out to hold the lid up.
The small black things on the base are the feet and locks.
The materials could probably be a lot thinner, some sort of brushed/anodized aluminium, finished in white maybe or could be wood or could be something like a magnesium alloy (extremely light) ;) Check out Ross Lovegrove's Magnesium 'go' Chair

Look at Mikael Lugnegard's Drawing equipment case! :o

Oh I forgot to mention that the Macbook could have a couple of clips or something on the corners to open the macbook at the same time but this may cause problems closing the lid and would need to be soft so it won't scratch :P

The dimensions are also out in the CAD renderings, the macbook's lid should be just a bit smaller than the lid etc...

Here's a screenshot of Mikael Lugnegard's custom oak case with his custom size sketch pad and pens and pencils :P


Attached Images

  • 14.07.143_copy.jpg
  • 14.07.147_copy.jpg
  • 14.07.146_copy.jpg
  • 14.07.149_copy.jpg
  • 14.07.150.jpg
  • Lavoro_V2_plus.153.jpg
  • Lavoro_V2_plus.160.jpg
  • Picture_3.png
  • Picture_4.png

#15 Guest_Karl Baxter_*

Guest_Karl Baxter_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 July 2009 - 02:26 AM

well, you are persisting. I reckon you've gone a bit over the top. Make it smaller, and think about the usability a bit more. definitely would want the level of the mouse plinth to be level with the keyboard - otherwise it's like having the side walls back If you are gonna have storage containers put the headphones and ipod in them. This time the ipod cant get out. Put the pencils in there as well. If you redused all the wall thicknesses little drawers might be better, then you don't have those disappearing lids. Lose the slit, and as you say make it thinner. Or put a slide out casio keyboard in it. If you can get a hold of some of the materials you're talking about that would be sweet. Did you get anything done in the workshop?

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users