Many students will have faced the problem of trying to squeeze a good sized work desk and a comfy bed into the same small room. Some may have gone down the bunk bed with desk area beneath route but while such things are certainly practical, they're not exactly well suited to the needs of the maturing scholar. The UrbanDesk from Graham Phakos is a full-size bed by night but when it's time to start work, the frame can be lifted up against a wall to reveal a spacious desk beneath. Initially created for his own use, such has been the interest from friends and colleagues that he has decided to aim for a limited production run.

Faced with a small room but wanting both a good-sized bed and spacious work area, Phakos decided to create his very own hybrid UrbanDesk. He told us that the "build process was pretty simple and straight forward and I did not think to keep much of a log. I spent a few weeks designing everything in a trial version of AutoDesk Inventor and then built the whole thing over one weekend and a couple trips to the hardware store. The whole thing cost a couple hundred dollars in materials."

The finished wooden prototype has a 59-inch (150-cm) wide and 29.5-inch (75-cm) deep Vika Amon table top from Ikea and a bed frame measuring 24.5 x 78.5 x 57.5 inches (62 x 199 x 146.05 cm). A good eight inches (20 cm) of clearance means that you can leave items on the desk when it's hidden underneath the bed, and there's room for storage at the back, too. Phakos has been using his UrbanDesk every day since July and it became such a talking point among envious family, friends and colleagues that he decided to try and take his design to the next level and make it available for others to buy.

Unfortunately, he simply didn't have the finances to run off a number of refreshed UrbanDesks on his own so he headed to crowd-funding portal Kickstarter to get things moving. Backers will be offered an updated and refined version of the prototype with steel instead of wood and a locking mechanism. The UrbanDesk will be shipped out as a flat-pack, self-assembly unit that will require buyers to bolt it together. The mattress will be attached to the bed frame with included nylon webbing. Build time is reckoned to take no more than an afternoon.

Folks who want to knock up a wooden version of their very own have also been catered for.

"I have decided to add a DIY backer level to the Kickstarter as another way for people to show their support for my project and as a way to share the information that I learned in building this," said Phakos. "I was able to borrow all of the tools I needed from friends. Having a fully outfitted shop would definitely make the process quicker and easier, but it is far from necessary."

There's an "Early Bird" special pledge level of US$650 and once they've been snapped up, it will cost backers $700 for the basic model. If all goes well, production of the first units will begin in January 2013. Given the size of the UrbanDesk, even in its flat-packed state, international backers are being asked to contact the developer before making a pledge.

"I do not really have marketing plan for things post-Kickstarter yet," admitted Phakos. "I don't have the money to fund this product into a commercially viable version if I fail to reach my Kickstarter goal. If I am able to reach my funding goal and it is clear there is a market for this product I will continue to offer it for sale to individuals as well as possibly trying to tackle the college dorm market. I have heard a lot of schools are looking to remove loft and bunk beds from dorms because of safety issues."

The funding campaign video below shows the UrbanDesk in use.

Source: Kickstarter

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    About the Author

    Paul Ridden

    While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.

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    • Seems to be the hard way to do it. This is basically a Murphy bed so why not use the same idea in reverse, attach the desk top to the underside of the frame with hinges and put 2 folding desk legs at the unhinged side similar to heavy duty card table legs. This works but is too complicated!

      Max Kennedy
    • The fold-down desk doesn't make sense. With that design, you can't have drawers under the desk, so no storage. If you take the 4.5 foot width for a full mattress and move the hinge so that the top edge of that mattress butts up against a standard 8 foot ceiling, that would still give 42 inches below the hinge, more than enough space for a regular 30-inch-high desk with plenty of drawer space beneath and 12" of clearance on the desktop, more than the "good eight inches" this UrbanDesk provides. In fact, forget the integrated desk and just make a Murphy bed with the hinge at 42", which would let buyers choose any desk they want (except for roll top and the like). They could even select L-shaped workstations that would provide space for desktop computer towers and LCD monitors, something impossible with the UrbanDesk.

    • Looks like something IKEA would be interested in.

      Larry Hoffman
    • Not much improvement over other solutions.

      I'd make a couch that pulls out into a wider bed with storage under and desk swing down from above it with storage 5' above floor where many put a bunkbed.

      This gives far more storage, desk, desk seats, double bed and 3 person sitting for about the same materials, labor, room.

    • Hopping onto (and off of) a 42" tall bed is a little more difficult that it sounds. I think the UrbanDesk has merit. It could use some bracing (a panel perhaps) that connects the rear paralleogram arms. This would require moving the arms to the inboard side of the angle iron, and would keep the desk from swaying side to side. Of course, you have to make your bed (sort of at least) and find a place to store your pillows.

      Bruce H. Anderson
    • I'd approach it in a different way too.

      I'd have the desk top above the mattress rather than below it, hinged so as to fold against the wall. The PC monitor would be attached to a two-armed stand at the back and the desktop would fold against it, and would also have integrated 'pockets' to retain books and the keyboard when folded. The bedding would not have to be removed when the desktop is deployed, as the mattress would not be tilted. The desktop would be shorter than the mattress in order to provide clearance for the pillows.

      The bed would be high enough off the floor to allow a good sized PC base unit to fit under, and some drawers, which would be mounted on a sliding mechanism (like drawer runners) to a panel serving as both the 'legs' of the bed and extending above to form a headboard, which would be fitted with pockets for papers, books, pens, etc. The PC could be mounted to a sliding 'carriage' on the footboard panel if desired.

      In order to allow sufficient legroom, when folded down the desktop could be slid forward, and the drawer unit (and PC carriage if fitted) likewise.

      Cable management would be integrated, as would integrated lighting in the form of an 'anglepoise' type lamp which would double as a reading lamp. Lastly, a pair of small speakers could be integrated to function as both PC speakers and 'hi-fi', if integrated with a personal stereo or MP3 player.

    • My son was offered 49 square feet of living space in a college dorm room for $6,000/yr. When we added up the actual daily cost, he could've shared a room at the nearest Hyatt Regency for less. There is no need to cram people into smaller places. 300,000,000 Americans in 4 person dwellings on one acre lots (EACH!) would fit in Texas alone.

    • Hardly an "invention". A number of similar items are already on the market, including, or Wallbeds 'n More's hidden desk:‘n-presents-hidden-bed-desk/

      Stan Sieler
    • Bruce H. Anderson,

      People have been getting on and off much higher beds for centuries. There are things called "bunk beds" and "ladders," including the loft beds popular among college students.

    • Gadgeteer,

      I am aware of bunk beds, having spent most of my youthful slumber there. However, a ladder is required unless you clamber up the side. And a desk can be put under a bunk/loft, assuming one likes working in a cave. The point I was making is that a 42" hinge pin makes a taller-than-normal hop-off point (around 30" being more typical). Also the bed becomes a little more unwieldy at height, and the extra length of the bed legs can be a concern. A 42" bed can be done, and a stepstool or ladder would help, but then there are extra pieces of furniture. The UrbanDesk is not perfect, but it does have merit.

      Bruce H. Anderson

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