Fully Jarvis Evolve Standing Desk Review
- Lab tested
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The Evolve falls into several premium categories that occupy the rarified air of designer standing desks. It’s priced at $2,300, so that puts it in the most expensive “executive standing desk” tier. And of course it’s made of solid wood, as is to be expected of any desk in this price tier. And it has not just one, but three drawers. Artisan handcrafted in Michigan, it’s certainly beautiful to look at. That’s the good news. The bad news starts with the fact that the drawers are so thick that you can’t actually bring this desk down to sitting height without crushing your lap. It is strictly a “standing desk,” not a “sit-stand desk,” from an ergonomic point of view. The design also disallows the addition of any ergonomic accessories like monitor arms or keyboard trays, so it’s pretty much a laptop desk. We’ve never understood Fully’s (and some of their other competitors’) choice of pairing an expensive, American-made desktop with a commodity-grade lifting base from China (Jiecang, like on all the Jarvis desks). While Vincent Leman has risen to the top of the field in designer standing desks nowadays, the Evolve was his very first creation. That was quite a few years ago now, and sadly the Evolve lacks any ergonomic sense whatsoever. Like the other Fully solid wood desks, it’s finished to a minimal level to minimize cost, and lacks some things you’d expect at this price tier, like high-quality drawer slides, ergo-contoured edges, more precisely aligned drawers, and at least a full sealing of the bottom of the desk, if not staining.
As a standing-only laptop desk with no edge-clamped or under-mounted accessories.
|MSRP / List Price||
In natural maple:
15 years on frame and electrical components
Jiecang dual-motor lifting base (made in China)
Single-stage: 1.3 ips
Standard up/down or programmable memory controller for $40 more
48″, 60″, or 72″ widths
Desktop: Maple, rustic walnut, rustic cherry
Single-stage frame: 29″-48.3″
350 lbs not including desktop (100 to 145 lbs depending on desk width, plus contents)
Evolve desk tops are offered in three sizes: 48″ (two drawers), 60″ (three drawers), and 72″ (three drawers)
|Typical Assembly Time||
About an hour to an hour and a half, including unboxing
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
Compare to All Top-Rated Standing Desks
|Where to buy||
Buy on Fully
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Suitability for Treadmill Desking|
|Positives||One of the few "designer" standing desks on the market, the Evolve is indeed quite pleasing to the eye. Drawers are hard to find on a standing desk, especially three of them. Drawer faces can match the desktop or be mix-and-matched for contrast. Handcrafted in Michigan. There's a hinged rear panel which opens into a built-in cable management area with three cable channel cut-outs (left, right, and center), providing access to the underside of the desk.|
|Negatives||Built on a commodity-grade Jiecang base, which seems odd considering the quality and expense of the artisan-handcraft desktop. The drawers are too deep for this desk to work at while sitting, at least at a proper ergonomic height. To get to the proper height, the drawers would crash into your lap. This is a rather extreme design flaw for a "sit-to-stand desk." The bottom of the desk is not finished--not even sealed to protect from moisture--and none of the edges are ergo-contoured. Limited to only three desk sizes and three finishes. The quality of the drawer slides and the imprecise alignment of the drawers are a bit disappointing. If you're going to spend this kind of coin on a standing desk, you'd expect more.|
Arguably the first ‘designer’ standing desk on the market
Fully (which has seen been folded into Knoll, which has since been folded into Herman Miller) was actually the first standing desk maker to introduce designer desks some years ago, with models such as the Jarvis Albright. They co-ventured with Vincent Leman, the most preeminent furniture designer working in the standing desk industry today, to create their original solid wood standing desks.
The Jarvis Evolve was actually Leman’s first design, and let’s just say he’s come a long way since then. At the time, surprisingly, it seems that neither Fully’s marketing team or Leman were well versed in standing desk ergonomics. While today Leman is known for being iMovR’s lead furniture designer, working with a veteran team of ergonomists, engineers, and artisan woodworkers to create the very best ergonomic furniture in the market today, back when the Evolve was created they missed some real basics. Chiefly, the fact that the entire desktop is 6″ thick, making it impossible to use at sitting height without crushing your lap.
Since getting acquired—and acquired again—however, it feels like Fully has taken their focus away from designer standing desks, solid wood standing desks, and executive standing desks, and moved diametrically towards the other end of the market with more of a commodity focus. Nowadays, these fancy variants of the Jarvis standing desk line are hidden away in a dusty corner of the site at the bottom of a very long page of their standing desk listings, so we can understand why so few are being sold anymore.
Sadly, Fully seems to be much more interested in high-volume, bottom basement desk models, and has neglected the pricier niche products—continually thinning them out over the past couple of years. The Evolve and Albright seem to be the red-headed stepchildren in their product offering line-up now, with a much more narrowly limited number of sizes and species being offered, and a markedly lower production quality than they featured when initially introduced.
You have to be Questlove to get away with wearing gold Crocs to the Oscars
Like any piece of solid wood fine furniture, the Evolve isn’t cheap. Prices start a little over $2,300 to over $3,000. So we have to ask, why would anyone buy a desktop this nice—hand-crafted in the USA—with a commodity-grade Jiecang base made in China? It’s a mish-mash that doesn’t make sense to us, yet Fully as well as its arch rival, UpLift, have both done it for years with all their solid wood desk offerings. So that’s our second biggest issue with the Evolve. Besides the component quality, aesthetics, and reliability issues of the Jiecang base, it is one that you have to arduously assemble entirely on your own before you can even use the desk.
The lifting base is rated at 350 lbs, but as we elaborate in our review of the standard Jarvis desk, and separately its Jiecang base, our lab testing revealed that its actual lifting capacity is far less. The desktop itself can weight anywhere from 100 lbs (48″-wide version) to 140 lbs (72″-wide version), plus the weight of contents in the drawers. Given how forward-biased that weight will be we have serious concerns about the lifting base’s ability to overcome significant side-loading forces. This doesn’t bode will for the longevity expectations of the hardware. Even though Fully’s 15-year base warranty will cover such failures, it’s a huge hassle to rebuild the desk with a new base.
The most direct competition to the Evolve right now is any number of solid wood standing desks from iMovR, such as the Lander, Lander Lite, Lander Executive, Lander L-Desk, the Ensign’s Desk or Captain’s Desk—all of which are built on state-of-the-art Linak bases that are precision robotically manufactured in the USA and arrive 95% factory pre-assembled. And notably, all of which were designed by Vincent Leman after his defection from the design collaboration with Fully. In this price range, and being fine furniture items, a consumer should expect nothing less than a very clean and delightful user experience, not an IKEA project for the weekend.
Finish level of the woodwork not as good as it should be for this price
As for the desktop quality itself, there’s a lot that goes into the shaping, sanding, staining, and sealing of solid wood desktops, as we elaborate on in our replete primer on Choosing the Right Top for Your Standing Desk. While the Albright and Evolve are produced in the same Benton Harbor, Michigan shop where iMovR has their solid wood tops made there is a stark contrast in precision craftsmanship and the degree of finishing that goes into them.
As one customer, Judy P., recently commented on Fully’s site, “Poor Craftmanship. Did my inspection when I got the desktop delivered and am deeply unhappy with the quality of the assembly, especially since I had to wait 7-10 weeks to receive it. The panels were misaligned and in different sizes. Currently working with support to get a replacement, which is going to take another 7-10 weeks to get delivered once we figure out how to return the original desktop since it’s a 5 feet and 140 pounds desktop and I currently don’t have the resources to ship it back properly.”
To keep costs low, Fully’s solid wood tops are minimally finished. They are not even sealed against moisture penetration on the bottoms, and they are minimally smoothed on the edges; whereas iMovR’s are fully ergo-contoured all around and have more passes of finishing and sealing all around, with a much higher standard of perfection when it comes to contending with imperfections in the natural wood. Fully has had a long standing reputation of grinding its vendors on costs, forcing them to use lower quality components and cut corners on labor just to save a few bucks.
Of course, all that extra finishing labor and upgraded componentry that iMovR insists upon costs a little more and this is reflected in their generally higher prices. But in our experience, consumers capable of affording the very best would rather invest in a higher quality product that’s going to perform better, last longer, and most importantly, look as elegant as possible. iMovR also exclusively offers zero-VOC options for those who are extremely sensitive to smells, and they also have a much more robust warranty.
One thing we do really like about the design of the Evolve, however, is the hinged rear panel which opens into a built-in cable management area with three cable channel cut-outs (left, right, and center), providing access to the underside of the desk. The only other standing desk we’ve seen this sort of concealed cable cabinetry on is the Lander Executive Desk, also designed by Vincent Leman. On the Lander Executive the cabinet design was a bit more worked out, allowing for monitor arms to be edge-clamped to the center of the desk. On the Evolve design there’s only enough of a cut-out for cable pass through.
Triple drawers add a lot of storage but at the expense of being able to use the desk while sitting
Not to put too fine a point on it, you can sit at the Evolve desk, but you can’t lower it to an ergonomically-correct height without crushing your legs under the 6″-high drawers. This is why virtually every other standing desk that has drawers makes the center drawer pretty shallow.
You would think that after all these years Fully would have modified the design to eliminate the bad ergonomics at sitting height, but they seem content with letting consumers continue to buy this product without so much as a disclaimer. As we said above, ever since being acquired, the company appears to be much more focused on the commodity end of the standing desk market.
The top itself comes in three different species: maple, rustic walnut, and rustic cherry. The drawer faces can be mixed or matched between these woods, or alternatively can be configured to be black or white. This highly curated selection is a reduction from previous options, but ever since being acquired, Fully has really thinned out the number of solid wood size and finish options they offer.
This is not dissimilar in strategy to that of luxury standing desk maker Ergonofis with their solid wood Sway Desk. But it’s in sharp contrast to makers like iMovR that offer 38 different species+stain combinations and countless shapes and sizes of desktops, since each one is made-to-order in any event.
The frame comes in four colors: Black, silver, white, and alloy. The alloy frame color costs an extra $20. Other upgrades are different base height adjustment ranges. You can choose a single-stage frame that has a height range of 29″-48.3″ or a dual-stage frame with a height range of 24.5″-50″. There’s also a dual-stage “low” frame option with a height range of 21.9″-42.2″.
There are two handsets available. The standard option has simple up and down buttons. For $40, you can get a more typical controller for desks in this price range with four height memory presets. Neither handset has Bluetooth, and therefore there are no smartphone apps available for Jarvis desks as there increasingly are found on some of the other premium standing desks in the market.
It’s really sad to see that the player that first pioneered designer standing desks in the industry has skulked away from it in favor of the “race to the bottom” commodity game, ever since getting acquired by (now) a $3B+ commercial furniture company. We guess that’s to be expected, but it’s still disappointing. The good news is other players have entered the arena with much more competitive products that are better built, with far more design options, better warranties, and entirely made in America, not using any significant components from China.
If it’s a designer desk you’re looking for there are much better, newer options available today than the Evolve and the Albright. If it’s the drawers that attract you to the Evolve be sure to check out our reviews round-up of Best Standing Desks with Drawers. If it’s the solid wood desktop that attracts you to the Evolve definitely check out our comprehensive round-up of Solid Wood Standing Desk reviews. And if you’re looking for the crème de la crème among luxury standing desks be sure to peruse our round-up of the Top-Rated Executive Standing Desks.
We’ve lab tested over a hundred standing desk models, so if you want to start at the top and narrow your search methodically step on over to our comprehensive reviews round-up of all the top-rated standing desks to see which ones might fit your needs best, and sign up for our newsletter so you can stay abreast of all the latest product introductions in the office fitness industry.