Focal Upright Furniture Mogo Review
A handy, well-designed little seat. Mogos can plunk down on any surface to act as a leaning seat. A correctly used Mogo also encourages small, beneficial correcting movements from a sitter’s legs, preventing the user from becoming truly sedentary – always a bonus for those concerned about sitting disease.
Outstandingly portable, a Mogo – and a Mogo user – can settle down just about anywhere. An incredibly elegant, simple approach to active seating; Mogos are easy to set up and easier to use.
Some users have reported feeling unsupported while sitting on a Mogo. Seat may be too small for larger users.
Active chairs are becoming ever more popular – we’ve come a long way since the days of exercise balls and the Hawaii Chair, and more and more manufacturers are finding ways to inject motion into sitting. One of the pioneers of the category was Aeris, the German company behind the $550 Muvman stools. The Muvman, and many of its competitors, rely on swiveling joints in a stable baseplate to add an active component to their product. Others are stools set on wobble boards, and still others make use of spring-reinforced flexible columns. Focal took the Mogo in another direction entirely:
It’s a stick. With a ball on the end. And that’s not a bad thing.
Simplicity is often the best policy, and the Mogo accomplishes the same thing that many of its competitors do, but it does so at a fraction of the weight and price.
Any proper active chair needs to do several things. First, if it’s worth the name, an active chair has to encourage movement on the part of the user. Second, it has to do that safely and ergonomically, and third, it has to do it comfortably. If a product falls seriously short on any of these components, then you’ve got a dud on your hands. So let’s take the Mogo and put it to our three part test, shall we?
A properly used Mogo doesn’t act like a traditional stool. Instead, it’s closer to a leaning chair – a product type that we’ve been seeing more and more of recently. Leaning chairs place the body halfway between standing and sitting, ideally opening the hip-back angle to reduce stress on the spine, as well as allowing a more active working position. So it’s easiest to think of the Mogo as one third of a tripod, with your legs forming the rest of the base. An ingeniously designed saddle seat guides you into this position, as angled thigh indents encourage you to position your legs to form a stable base. Active sitting also becomes natural. It’s impossible to fully settle on top of a Mogo (unless you’re gifted with preternatural balance and the hip mobility of a belly dancer), so your legs take a decent portion of your bodyweight. This mild exertion won’t have you breaking a sweat –you likely won’t even notice it – but it does help prevent the physical shutdown caused by total inactivity. The natural instability of the pogo-stick style base will also force minor balancing movements.
So let’s talk about ergonomics, and let’s get back to that saddle seat. Similar in form to bicycle seats, saddle seats generally have a raised central portion with two channels for the upper legs. Add in downward tilt, and you have a seat designed for a semi-upright, splay-legged posture – perfect for the Mogo. We really can’t stress what a solid design choice this was; most leaning chairs have adopted the saddle seat, and ones that haven’t can be ergonomic nightmares, as a sharp leading edge cuts into the back of a user’s thighs.
That’s activity and ergonomics down, so what about comfort? Despite its slim frame, the Mogo manages to be both sturdy and comfortable, though some folks – larger ones in particular – may find the seat a bit on the small side. (Mogos officially support users up to 200lb). The seat is crafted from fiberglass-reinforced nylon, making it durable and flexible, while an EVA foam cushion keeps it nice and plush. Between the flex of the perch and its well-planned contours, our testers found the Mogo very comfortable for seating stints of over an hour, but spending a workday on one might be a bit of a commitment. In fact, Focal recommends using the Mogo for light task seating rather than as a full-time chair. The Mogo has found a niche here at WorkWhileWalking: instant meeting seat. Few full-blown office chairs have found their way to our offices, so tracking them all down for a meeting often takes a few minutes – and a couple of displaced coworkers. Our favorite solution so far is to keep a few Mogos lying around. Any open patch of floor can instantly serve as a conference room. There’s plenty to be said for office adoption, meetings are quicker and healthier with these leaning chairs.
For the Space-Challenged Desker
It took us a few days of testing at the WorkWhileWalking offices to realize it, but the Mogo is an ideal accessory for treadmill deskers. Walking and standing come easy on a treadmill desk, but sitting? The best case solution calls for an adjustable-height desk wide enough to accommodate a chair and a treadmill base side-by-side. And that calls for some serious space – in fact, we’ve only found one desk line to date that can manage both. There are some alternatives; a few folks have asked us about balancing exercise balls on their treadmills for a quick, squishy seat, and we’ll give you the same advice we gave them: don’t do it, unless you’ve got strong bones and a taste for danger.
The most popular option, particularly with thrifty apartment walkers, is simply placing a chair on the treadmill belt. It’s not a bad idea – so long as you choose something with soft, rubber-tipped feet it won’t really hurt the treadmill, and so long as it doesn’t roll (we mean it, no wheels) it shouldn’t put you in any danger either. But still, it’s less than ideal. Hauling a chair on and off every time can be a hassle, as is finding a comfortable seat that fits the narrow dimensions of a treadmill.
And so we had a major lightbulb moment when we decided to try a Mogo out as a treadmill seat. Not only does the tiny footprint of the Mogo fit onto even the slimmest of belts, but the tripod weight dispersion – and the soft rubber pedestal – place only a healthy amount of pressure on your treadmill base. So here’s one for you, seating-deficient deskers, grab a Mogo and settle down for a spell. Be sure to keep one thing in mind when you do; treadmill belts will move even on an unpowered treadmill if they’re pushed – keep your feet and your Mogo on the belt, or you’ll have about three disconcerting seconds before the Mogo falls off the back of the treadmill.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the Mogo – if the name didn’t tip you off – lies in portability. Many similar chairs tout mobility as an advantage, but they don’t even come close to challenging the Mogo. Coming in at an atomweight total of 2.1 pounds, and its own carrying case, the Mogo can follow you just about anywhere. The seat can also be unscrewed and clipped to the pole for maximum space-efficiency. Ignoring its ergonomic benefits for a moment, you’re still looking at an extremely convenient travel chair. The rubber base on the Mogo had no difficulties finding purchase on the carpet and tiles inside the office, or the concrete and grass outside it, and didn’t even budge when we tried to boot it out from under a (cooperative) tester. The ball can also be reversed and used as a four-point plastic base on turf or similar surfaces.
Anyone after a “backpack chair” should give the Mogo a try. A long walking workday – either outside or on a factory floor – could get much more comfortable with addition of a portable seat. If you’re suffering from hip, knee, or ankle pain, a Mogo could provide an emergency perch during longer walks. We’re not sure we’d recommend hauling one to a Metallica concert, but if you’re headed to a more sedate festival? Go for it.
The Mogo comes supported with a limited lifetime warranty.