Klevr Furniture uses Onshape to create the WELD Table, an inspirational shared workspace with built-in power chargers
Klevr Furniture is a Texas-based manufacturer specializing in easy-to-assemble wooden furniture that requires no tools or fasteners.
I’m blown away by how well it works inside a web browser. The beauty of Onshape being cloud-based is that I don’t have to deal with software updates… It’s already complicated enough keeping my machine up to date. Not having to worry about that with CAD software is great.
Brock Brandenberg, Klevr Furniture
Sharing office space with other companies is becoming a more popular option for entrepreneurs and startups around the world. As coLAB, a Texas-based communal workspace, says in its advertising slogan, "Working for yourself does not have to mean working by yourself."
But sitting next to "co-workers" from other startups has a noticeable downside: there’s significantly more clutter. The average tech-savvy worker carries a laptop, a phone and perhaps even a tablet. Keeping them charged means having to unravel a bundle of cables and compete for the few remaining outlets.
It’s a wonder there’s any space to do actual work. With this quandary in mind, furniture maker Brock Brandenberg and photographer Austin Mann set out to create the perfect desk. Mann, who founded a Dallas community workspace for artists called "WELD," wanted to build customized furniture when he opened another location in Nashville this year.
"In the same way that a quality mattress can revolutionize the way we sleep, a table can revolutionize the way we think and create," says Mann. "To anyone that would say a table is just a table, I’d simply say, ‘Well, you haven’t seen the WELD Table!’"
"There's No Other Furniture Like It"
The "fully loaded" WELD workstation, about the size of a small conference room table, is bisected with a powerstrip of 16 outlets and 8 built-in retractable cables for charging Apple laptops and phones (Android cables can be ordered on request). Further avoiding clutter, the table is connected with only one power cord. The white desktop is also a dry-erase marker board, allowing users to scribble notes, pictures and ideas.
"You can’t get another piece of furniture like it right now," says Brandenberg, founder of Klevr Furniture in Fort Worth, Texas. "It’s really an entire package that came together beautifully when we couldn’t find these features elsewhere."
Klevr’s trademark is easy-to-assemble wooden furniture that requires no tools or fasteners. The company’s "insanely sturdy tables" are assembled with tabs, slots and joints that slide and click together to produce rock-solid pieces of furniture.
"Klevr Furniture doesn’t use friction-fit joints to stay together," Brandenberg explains. "Instead, there’s a forcing function in the order that the panels go together. When you assemble two panels and then add a third panel, it locks the second one – and then adding a fourth will lock the third, etc."
WELD Tables, which retail for $5,000, currently are being used at the Nashville WELD space and at coLAB in Fort Worth. Blake Panzino, the CEO of coLAB, says he regards the collaborative workstations to be an invaluable part of his business.
"I’m surrounded by people who look at ordinary objects/tasks/systems in an extraordinary way," he says. "They expect more than just typical ‘office furniture.’ They crave for everything they touch to help them be more efficient and productive. As a truly connected generation, there is nothing worse than being without your devices. The WELD table eliminates that fear with its abundance of power sources."
"Ideas often spark in a moment’s notice given the crowd we have here," Panzino adds. "Having a writable surface is crucial for encouraging people to share information. When you share ideas with someone from a different background, often they can offer things you haven’t thought about."
More Time Designing, Less Time on Software Updates
To design the WELD Table, Brandenberg chose Onshape, the first and only full-cloud professional 3D CAD system.
"I’m blown away by how well it works inside a web browser," says the furniture maker, who recently switched over from SolidWorks. "The beauty of Onshape being cloud-based is that I don’t have to deal with software updates. It’s really nice to get an email notification saying that new things have been added and the next time that I log in, I just have new features. It’s already complicated enough keeping my machine up to date. Not having to worry about that with CAD software is great."
"With SolidWorks, it’s all about checking in with licensing servers – and updates in Windows are a real pain,” he adds. “With Onshape, all that is a thing of the past."
Brandenberg, who designs, manufactures and assembles all of his products in Texas, calls himself a "one-man factory."
"The biggest thing in Onshape for me is the ability to spit out STL files for 3D printing. Almost everything in the WELD Table is custom. I literally use three off-the-shelf parts in the whole thing. The custom parts that make up the cable retraction mechanism are plastic parts designed in Onshape and then 3D printed in ABS plastic."
"I didn’t have to go out for injection molding. I didn’t go out for any kind of plastic tooling anywhere else," he says. "It was fantastic to be able to design these plastic parts very accurately in Onshape and spit them out as flawless STL files – I mean they were watertight models – and print them flawlessly on my 3D printer."
Onshape's Built-In Feedback Tool
Brandenberg has high praise for Onshape’s Feedback tool, which can be activated through either a menu command or hot key. If an Onshape user is experiencing difficulty, he or she can instantly take a screenshot of the problem and use built-in markup tools to write, draw or circle things to explain what went wrong. CAD users can visually explain the issue versus trying to describe it on the phone or by email.
"It’s so easy to annotate whatever you are working on and share feedback with the technical support team. And if I run into a bug, I can capture and send it right when it happens without having to figure out who to send it to," he says. "It is literally built into Onshape and is a wonderful feature!"
"I couldn’t ask for anything more. You get an automated reply back within a couple of minutes, so at least I know it has gone into the system. And it’s usually just an hour or two before I get an answer: Either a confirmation, or a ‘we’re working on it’ or ‘that would be a good feature,’ or ‘we’ll get back to you.’ It’s been wonderful interacting with Onshape this way."
Coming Soon: A WELD Table for the Home Office?
Klevr Furniture is currently focusing its sales on the shared office space market, but Brandenberg says he envisions the collaboration benefits to also appeal to creative agencies, universities and corporations, which also have been trending toward open office seating plans.
And, if you happen to like the looks of the WELD table, but still prefer to work alone, Klevr might soon be offering a mini-WELD table.
"The tables have become our ‘concept car.’ People see them in the co-working space and say, ‘I want one for home.’ So we’re taking the WELD table and our Klevr Storage-Top Desk and those two are going to have an offspring," Brandenberg promises. "That’s going to be the personal WELD table. People want a clean, uncluttered environment since it makes it so much easier to think and work."