A cosy IKEA desk setup with an Embody office chair

IKEA Desk Setup with an Embody Chair in San Francisco, US

“I love to tinker, as all my keyboards and computers were self-built and tinkered with”

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Name: Brian

Location: San Francisco, California, USA

Occupation: Research Associate

Room size: 45 m² (483 ft²) (Studio Apartment)

Cost of setup: ~$8,5K

Social media: Instagram

Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello, I’m a 32-year-old research associate working at one of the many biotech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

My work involves being in the lab the majority of the time, and so my desk corner is where I come home to wind down.

A well-organised workspace featuring an Embody chair, a desktop computer with dual monitors, and framed artwork on the wall

In my free time, I like to dabble in a variety of hobbies such as travelling, building mechanical keyboards, collecting watches, cooking, and getting into Reddit/Wikipedia rabbit holes.

I love computers, gaming, and technology, and as a kid, I’ve always dreamed of having the coolest gaming room.

An evening view of a desk with a mechanical keyboard, a pair of headphones, dual monitors, and a collection of figurines and plants on the shelf above

The problem was that I had always lived with housemates/roommates and never had a big enough space to call my own.

I’ve since moved into a studio apartment (still living with roommates, though these ones are small and furry) and have been happily curating my living space.

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Take us through your setup

Item Model
Monitor Gigabyte M27U 27″, ASUS PA248Q 24.1″
Monitor mount 2 × VIVO Single Monitor Arm Desk Mount
Desktop computer Cooler Master MasterBox NR200P, NVIDIA Founders Edition GeForce RTX 4090, AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D
Speakers Google Nest Audio Smart Speaker
Headphones Massdrop X Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee
DAC/Amp Schiit Hel
Keyboard grid 650 + KAT Mizu keycaps and Gazzew Boba U4T switches
Numpad Mammoth20 + GMK Dots keycaps and Tecsee Purple Panda switches
Macro pad KeebMonkey Megalodon Triple Knob
Keyboard cable CableMod Custom Coiled
Mouse Glorious MODEL D
Mouse bungee BenQ Zowie CAMADE II
Mouse mat Mechs & Co Wave Seigaiha Blue
Phone stand Google Pixel Stand (2nd gen)
Desk lamp TaoTronics TT-DL16
Cable organiser PAMO Cable Management
Bias lighting SmartLife LED Strip Wi-Fi
Office chair Herman Miller X Logitech G Embody + Atlas Headrest

I’ve separated my studio into three dedicated areas: desk + dining/tinkering table, living room, and the sleeping alcove.

My space is inspired by the Japandi style of interior decorating with a dash of pop culture pieces.

The majority of my furniture is from IKEA.

A cosy living space with a large TV opposite the sofa, a dining area to the left, and a home office setup with dual monitors, and artworks on the wall

I’ve been slowly incorporating more natural tones and textures while keeping the area tidy and practical.

This current iteration took over months of planning and figuring out what would complement the space.

In addition to decorating, I’ve also bunny-proofed the area, which involved things such as hiding or protecting any electrical wires and finding ways to prevent my furniture from being nibbled on.

Two rabbits, one black and the other orange and white, resting on a carpeted floor with a wooden toy bed and a lamp in the background

I am a big fan of being practical and efficient, as everything has a purpose.

I’m always finding ways to improve the setup, whether it be through automation, shortening tasks, ergonomics, or improving acoustics.

The desk area is basically my hub, as I have my computer, charging station, and my Google Nest Audio which acts as my computer speaker and controls my home automations.

A neat desk setup with two turned-off monitors, a mechanical keyboard, headphones on a mat, and various desk accessories, with a shelf holding small figurines to the side

On my desk, I have the Sennheiser HD 58X headphones plugged into the Schiit Hel for gaming/high-fidelity audio, a macropad with a custom hotkeys, a numpad, and an ongoing rotation of keyboards (pictured on my desk is the grid 650).

I love to tinker, as all my keyboards and computers were self-built and tinkered with.

A close-up of a desk with a custom mechanical keyboard in blue and grey, surrounded by various audio equipment and a computer monitor in the background

My current PC is built in an NR200P case running on a NVIDIA 4090FE graphics card and a Ryzen 7800X3D CPU, with the setup undervolted and the fan acoustics virtually silent during idling/light use.

My main monitor is the Gigabyte M27U with the ASUS PA248Q as the secondary and my TCL 55R655 TV as the tertiary for couch streaming/gaming.

A home office space with an Embody ergonomic chair, a desk with a dual monitor setup, framed artworks on the wall, and a dining area with a black table in the background

A cool device that I use to turn on all parts of my battlestation at once is the advanced power strip (I have the TrickleStar TS1003).

The power strip is set up so that when I power on my computer, my two monitors and my DAC/Amp are triggered to turn on, and vice versa, so I can turn everything on with a press of a button.

As for cable management, my goal was to not see any stray wires while sitting down or at most viewing angles of the desk.

For the power strip and cables, I installed the PAMO cable management tray underneath the desk, and I placed everything else behind my drawers.

As for any visible wires, I grouped them into cable branches with cable ties and routed them along my monitor mounts.

The only wires that are visible are the ones necessary to power/connect my equipment.

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The Herman Miller Embody has definitely been my favourite ergonomic office chair and well worth every penny, as I stopped getting back strains from sitting at my desk after long sessions.

A cosy bedroom home office with an Embody chair, a desk supporting a computer with a lit screen, vibrant framed art on the wall, and decorative items on a shelf above

The Atlas headrest attachment is a nice addition whenever I want to lounge back and relax.

I like to dabble in home automations and make use of smart light bulbs and outlets.

I have lights that turn on during sunset or when I watch a movie.

My regular air purifier has been automated, as I have it plugged into a smart outlet, which turns on/off depending on what my indoor air quality monitor reads.

I enjoy my current setup, but it is far from perfect, as I am confined to the small dimensions of my studio.

My desk drawers are not aligned symmetrically to my desk in order to fit my pet feeder and TV stand.


I don’t have much space to move my office chair around, as it sits right behind my dining table.

The natural light for this place could be better, as the majority of my light comes from my balcony sliding doors, though I have to keep the blinds semi-closed for privacy, as my balcony faces a high traffic area of my complex.

I’ve recently been adding more colour and mood lighting to my space to make it feel a lot more inviting, as opposed to when I first started with only monochrome furniture.

My next peripheral upgrades would be a wireless mouse, a light bar, and an ultrawide monitor.

For future automations, I would like to have automated blinds/curtains.

The next iteration of this space would be to redo my setup in a dedicated room with more shelves and a standing desk to tinker on my side projects.

What’s your favourite item on your desk?

My custom mechanical keyboards are one of my favourite items on my desk.

I enjoyed the whole process of building and tuning my keyboard to fit my preference and aesthetics.

A close-up of a custom mechanical keyboard with white and pastel-coloured keycaps on a dark desk surface

Each keyboard has its own sound signature and typing feel, from tactile bumps to smooth linear downstrokes to clicky clacky noises.

I rotate my various keyboards often but the one I have pictured on my desk is the grid650.

It is a 65% sized keyboard with rounded edges and a swappable accent plate on top.

A close-up of a custom mechanical keyboard grid650 in blue and grey on the desk

The current accent plate is called ‘Peaks’ as the metal accent plate has bumps that resemble geometric points or mountain peaks, which gives the piece a 3D effect when the light plays around it.

For the typing feel, I have opted to use tactile switches, Boba U4T, which give a heavy tactile bump when you type on it.

Since this keyboard is custom, it is made to order from the designer (@gridishere) through a group buy.

This keyboard, with all of its components and various accent pieces, would total to around ~$850.

What apps or tools do you use to get things done?

EasyJoin is a great app for linking your phone with your computer.

It allows me to see any notifications from my phone on my computer, as well as enabling easy file transfers between my devices.

 A living room featuring a large TV showing the Simpsons series, a comfortable sofa with a patterned throw, and an office area with dual monitors and desk in the corner

When it comes to computer monitoring and tuning, I have a few programs that I enjoy using.

I use Rainmeter in conjunction with computer monitoring widgets (powered by HWiNFO64) displayed on my desktop.

It enables me to monitor all aspects of my computer, from its power/speed usage to drive capacity, fan speed, and component temperatures.


This is especially helpful when I’m overclocking or undervolting my components.

FanControl is excellent software that allows you to control the speed of all your computer fans.

This is how I’m able to achieve near-silent idle noise from my computer while maintaining cool temperatures.

A shelf with various items including a plant, collectible figures, a speaker, and a smartphone displaying the time against a backdrop of a framed forest picture

SoundSwitch is a very handy software if you have multiple audio sources.

With this software, I’m able to switch from my speakers to headphones to my soundbar with a few hotkeys, or in my case, a press of my macropad key.

Launchy is another great software, essentially an improved pop-up version of the Windows search function.

What books, blogs, or podcasts recently caught your attention?

For my maker space inspirations, I indulge in various sources such as on YouTube — Matthew Encina, Reynard Lowell, Georgene Loh, Daniel Titchener.

Instagram — @im_ericwang, @cozy.lvn, and Reddit - /r/Battlestations, /r/malelivingspace.

An organised desk with a computer sporting dual monitors with colorful wallpapers, a mechanical keyboard, headphones, and a shelf with plants and figurines, all under warm ambient lighting

Some fun podcasts I like to listen to are Stuff You Should Know, Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know, and Crime Junkie.

The first two are just great podcasts for learning about random trivia and history while being light-hearted.

Crime Junkie provides my true crime fix and serves to spook me once in a while.

Any tips for other makers who want to improve their workspaces?

Start slow and focus on one aspect you want to improve at a time.

Take some time to research and look at what type of setup you eventually want to have.

Creating a pinboard/mood board is great for this.

I’ve kept and saved pictures of cool setups that I refer back to when decorating/purchasing items.

A softly glowing spherical lamp atop a black side table with art books and a small cardboard figure nestled below

I would begin with your maker space needs and then move on to wants.

For example, I wanted my computer to be the centrepiece, so I started off with a basic desk setup — monitor, computer, keyboard, and mouse.

Once I got comfortable with my basic layout, I started to expand since I wanted to dive into audiophile and keyboards, so I did my research and bought pieces one by one.

Let your desk expand and grow organically over time; you don’t need the perfect setup on day one.

What does your typical day look like?

In the mornings, either my bunnies (Bob and Molly) or my alarm clock wakes me up.

I check my phone for any notifications (Gmail, Instagram, and Discord), clean up my living space, and get my bunnies ready for bed.

Two rabbits, one black and one tan, peeking over the edge of a grey sofa with a framed picture hanging in the background

Afterwards, I get ready and head to work, which is about a 15 to 20-minute commute.

As a biotech research associate, I spend most of my time running around in the lab, with some sporadic sessions at my work desk for paperwork.

After work, I’m usually at the gym before I head home.

A home office with an ergonomic Embody chair in front of a desk with dual monitors, a mechanical keyboard, and various items, with framed artwork on the wall above

Once I get home, I have dinner with Bob and Molly and then start winding down.

I’m a night owl and am usually up until 1 or 2 am gaming, watching shows, or reading up on my latest interests/hobbies.

I find myself most productive when the sun sets. I like to multitask on my computer, so I would have one monitor doing a different task.

For example, I could be playing games such as Diablo 4 on my main monitor while watching shows on the other.

Your tips for working from home?

I don’t work from home often, but when I do need to get things done on my computer, I just tune in to some Lo-Fi music.

Whenever I find myself procrastinating, I just force myself to start the task, no matter how slowly I’m chipping away at it.

Eventually, it becomes a snowball effect, and then I’m hitting my stride.

A cosy living room scene with two rabbits, one black and one orange & white, resting on a grey sofa, with a colourful painting on the wall above

We’re a reader-supported publication. This article might contain affiliate links. It means we may receive a commission if you click a link and buy a product that our maker has recommended. The interview was done independently.

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