In Review: Teknion’s Navigate

We gathered at the Teknion showroom in Dubai’s Design District to review their latest and incredibly versatile sit-stand desk, Navigate. Joining in with their professional design expertise were Morgan Tuckness from Drees & Sommer, and Parihan Rashidi from Roar, both of whom could not help but be enthralled by the product, and ended up offering some valuable upgrade advice.



When it comes to workspace solutions, few companies compete on the scale that Teknion does. Offering a comfortably large range and depth of quality products targeted at any and every type of corporate setting today, the global Canadian manufacturer is well placed to handle any level of aesthetic and functional requirements from today’s workspace designs.

The Review Crew

Above from left: Parihan Rashidi, Senior Interior Design at Roar, Morgan Tuckness, Head of Global Hospitality at Drees & Sommer and Heather Portingale, Sales Director Middle East & Africa at Teknion

A bit of brand history

Teknion’s operations began in 1983 with a single product – T/O/S – and has since expanded its portfolio, cultivating a global presence and serving multiple regions and major clients, plus going toe to toe with other major and older global manufacturers.

Teknion collectively offers three separate brands in the region, with Teknion itself being their commercial office furniture arm. Studio TK, an external division, complements the Teknion core line with its own offering of social and resimercial themed ranges, many of them designed by the famous PearsonLloyd team. The third brand in the team is LUUM, a range of stunning textiles designed and directed by Suzanne Tick.

Today, we will focus on Navigate, Teknion’s latest standing desk, which also happened to win the Judge’s Choice Award for Wellness earlier this year at the The Design Collective 2020 Product Awards. Navigate is the evolution of a product line that started decades back in the late 1980s. Heather Portingale, Sales Director MENA for Teknion, talks about the many, many attributes of this versatile piece of furniture. Here’s a breakdown of our conversation…

Fluid aesthetics

“Wellness is a core tenet of Teknion’s design philosophy, and Navigate represents all of Teknion’s experience and values,” says Heather.

A distinctive theme in Teknion’s latest products, and one that’s evident in Navigate, is the use of a rich palette of materials and finishes, combined with soft edges and understated accents – an interesting combo of design that allows Navigate to integrate into its environment.

Standard edge finishes are available in six options, with tablestops and fabrics available from over 90 surface materials/finishes and 30 base paints. The legs themselves are available in C or T leg profiles, at heights and finishes that complement existing or other Teknion freestanding systems. They also fit well with their upStage credenzas integrated into the system, and the entire Navigate range can be designed to support multiple work styles, and even a community space.

One interesting design touch we noticed was the castor size. “They’re intentionally designed to be as small as possible so it doesn’t take away from the rest of the design, and fit wells with the overall look,” says Heather. She also points to the soft rubber finish around the height control switch, which offers a tactile touch. To top it off, the electric switches are available in four variations, with four memory settings or two toggle switches, one of which features a display toggle with memory and Navigate GPS.

Keeping in line with safety, the entire range is designed and manufactured to ANSI/BIFMA standards. Sustainability is nothing new to Teknion – Navigate is a GREENGUARD certified product with VOC free paint and accessories made from recycled plastic.

“With the market becoming increasingly competitive, nearly every major company today is looking to achieve a WELL certified workplace,” says Heather. “Having 60% of your workstations sit-stand ticks off section 7 of the WELL checklist. Obviously, that requires an investment in high quality products that not only perform well but look good too. So Navigate solves that equation quite well.”

While height adjustable desks work well as freestanding units, these can easily be assembled to form a linear or benching system for larger, open plan spaces.The cable management system works well in both single or connected units, with multiple options for integrated power. 

Morgan: Simplicity is important to good product design, but it’s not easily achievable. Navigate does this well with its streamlined design. You get a sense of quality and comfort when using the product. Additionally, it doesn’t look sterile with all the panels; in fact quite the opposite when you add those splashes of colour and beautiful fabrics.

The colour palette and customisation options for materials and finishes are fresh, new and diverse. Even the cable management, which is usually only impressive as long as it’s in the showroom, looks great in action.

Parihan: For starters, it does what a desk is supposed to do well in terms of design, utility and comfort. Teknion has clearly put a lot of thought into the finer details of the design. I personally love the residential feel it gives, which is very much in line with trends today.

I love how it isn’t confined to just being a standalone desk, but can work as a collective unit or boardroom table as well. The cable management options available are great too. Overall, I would say Navigate is subtle, effective, and handles all kinds of setups.

Smart mechanics

It would be remiss of us not to mention the thoughtful yet hidden elements of this desk’s design, for there are several of them, all designed to ensure incredibly smooth operation and product longevity. Teknion’s height adjustable desks have been developed with the University of Waterloo’s biomechanics department since the very beginning of their production. Among the features available is the most energy efficient control system on the market − LINAK’s 0WTM technology. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the motor only draws power when in use. Upon contact, a tiny electric current is passed onto the motor, which activates it.

Alternatively, if you’re opting for Teknion’s patented counterbalance system, you’d be pleased to know that it comes with a collision detection system for enhanced security. At the heart of the system is a patented spring mechanism that adjusts its weight accordingly, and can take on 68 kgs of weight. Intuitively, two motors are put in place to deliver even support on both sides. To further enhance support and control, Navigate has an optional Bluetooth enabled option for setting the height for each desk.

Morgan: I love the operating mechanism, it’s so simple and smooth. The customisation in the tension is impressive, because whether you’re strong or petite, operating it becomes easy (and not jarring as is the case with some other height adjustable desks in the market).

The entire mechanism is outstanding and cohesive with the rest of the design (the storage and panels). It is intuitive and well executed with strong attention to detail. I like both the counterbalance and the electric version, especially the fact that the latter does not draw power when not in use. Overall, these features reflect a high quality product.

Parihan: It’s far smoother than most operating desks I’ve used. The operating mechanism is usually pretty generic and doesn’t take into consideration different users, but in Navigate it feels tailored for me. Also worth noting is that it can move equally well with weight on it. The use of dual motors is smart, and the fact that it isn’t power consuming 24×7 definitely awards it bonus points. I especially like the collision detection system, which goes a long way towards product longevity and convincing customers who may still be on the edge about deciding whether or not to spend on standing desks.

Our thoughts

We already knew that Teknion produces some great standing desks. However, as far as holistic solutions go, Teknion’s Navigate is a beautifully designed and well thought out product that works particularly well when designing entire workspace solutions that integrate seating, storage, and collaborative zones. The price is definitely on the mid to higher end, but is still competitive with the likes of similar brands on the market, particularly if you factor in all that it offers and the quality of the mechanism.

Related Articles