Branded Office Chairs Part 3: Humanscale Top 3 Freedom, Liberty And Diffrient World

Continuing our series on branded chairs, this week it's the turn of Humanscale a relative newcomer to the office seating market, despite this it produces consistently good office chairs.

Humanscale's first move into office seating came in 1999 with the introduction of its Freedom chair which remains one of its most popular products. Let's take a look at it now.

Freedom chair
Humanscale's Freedom chair was quite a significant departure from the normal type of office chair in use in 1999.

freedom chair

Freedom Chair In Green Leather

Designed by ergonomics pioneer Neils Diffrient the chair's functionality is much more responsive than conventional chair mechanisms. It senses the user's weight and movements and adjusts to support you as you move.

It's a great chair to recline in when fitted with the headrest option as it gives excellent support to your neck and head.

As many of the adjustments are automatic it's really a very simple chair to use. There isn't the usual confusing array of levers, knobs and buttons. You just need to set the seat height and seat depth for your body height and leg length. All that remains is to slide the chair back to support your lower back and once that's done it automatically supports your every move from there on.

It's adjustable arms are also very flexible because if you want to work without them you can drop them out of the way. Clearly Humanscale got things right because a decade later it had sold its millionth Freedom chair.

Lets look at its Liberty chair next.

Liberty chair
The Liberty first appeared at the NeoCon show in 2004 and won a Gold award for ergonomic seating. Once again Humanscale chose to work with Neils Diffrient to create it.

liberty chair

Liberty Chair Blue Fabric & Mesh Back

It continues the idea of simplicity in use and once seat height and depth are set to your requirements it supports your automatically from there.

With the high use of specialist plastics and mesh back upholstery it a lot lighter than most office chairs.

Even so it's robust and well engineered. The back mesh is cleverly constructed from 3 layers of high technology material which gives great support as well as allowing good air circulation.

It's a very eco friendly chair with 95% of the materials being recyclable and over 50% of its parts made from recycled materials.

Finally, let's move onto Humanscale's latest chair the Diffrient World.

Diffrient World chair
Neils Diffrient spent nearly 10 years perfecting the design features of the Diffrient World which launched in 2011. In doing so he managed to get the number of components down to just 8 which is a fraction of what is in a typical office chair.

Diffrient World chair

Diffrient World Chair In White Mesh

This helps to simplify the way the chair functions and as with the Liberty the only 2 adjustments are seat height and depth. With the reduction in the number of components significant savings in the cost manufacture have been made resulting in the Diffrient World being 39% cheaper than the Freedom chair.

In use the chair senses the user's body weight and movements and has a unique ramp adjustment that automatically moves as you move. It uses 3 dimensional mesh back fabric giving excellent back comfort and eliminating the need for any separate lumbar support.

The front edge of the seat is frameless so no hard edges to dig into your legs.

Once again eco friendliness is part of the chair's makeup as over 95% of its parts are recyclable.

As with all Humanscale chairs there is a 15 year 24/7 warranty, so build quality and durability is assured.

Getting the design of its seating products right has enabled Humanscale to become the one of the world's top 3 manufacturers of high performance task chairs. That's a pretty impressive statistic when you remember it only entered the seating market in 1999.

Let's quickly run through what we've covered here:

  • The Freedom chair adjusts automatically as you work
  • Freedom adjustable arms are very easy lower out of the way
  • Liberty's 3 ply mesh is great for support and air circulation
  • Liberty is very eco friendly over 50% is made from recycled parts
  • Diffrient World has only 8 components helping to keep costs down
  • Diffrient World doesn't have hard edges making it very comfortable in use
  • All 3 chairs have a 15 year 24/7 warranty

Further information
Here's where you can find full reviews of these 3 Steelcase chairs:

And here are links to the two previous articles in this series:

  1. Herman Miller top 3 branded office chairs
  2. Steelcase top 3 branded office chairs



Humanscale Makes Excellent Office Chairs: And For The Next 19 Days It’s Spring Sale Time

Freedom Chair With Headrest

Humanscale Freedom Chair

Over the past decade or so Humanscale has built an enviable reputation for producing top class office chairs. You won’t find it offering any ‘me too’ products, each seat it launches is meticulously designed and tested down to the last detail.

How does it manage to keep turning out excellent seating?

By employing top designers like Neils Diffrient
Unlike many office seating manufacturers who use off the shelf components, Humanscale always starts with a clean slate. And by using top designers like Neils Diffrient it’s always able to offer chairs that have been painstakingly thought out. As a result its products are always supremely comfortable as well as being highly functional and easy to use.

What makes a Humanscale office chair a good long-term buy?
Quite simply it expects its chairs to last you for many years. And to show its faith in their quality all of its products carrying a 15 year warranty.

Such a level of confidence means you won’t find any low quality components. It simply couldn't afford to take the risk when they are guaranteed to last 15 years.

So, no nasty cheap seat foam that goes flat and brittle in months. Instead high quality foam that keeps bouncing back day in day out no matter how often or long you sit on it.

Buying a Humanscale chair is an investment, you spend once and forget it. You could likely get through half a dozen cheap chairs over the lifetime of one of its chairs. And never achieve anywhere near the same level of comfort.

And for the next 19 days your investment will cost you 15% less
Right now Humanscale is running a Spring sale which finishes on Monday 13 March 2011. Until then you can grab an additional 15% off already heavily discounted prices. This makes its Freedom and Liberty chairs outstanding value for money.

Here's where you can read a review of the Freedom and Liberty as well as how to lock in these great prices.


The Office Chair Revolution: How Modern Ideas And Materials Are Turning Tradition On Its Head

In my previous post I took a look at Herman Miller’s new Sayl chair with its suspension back inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Rise Of The Open Cell Back

Sayl Chair

Sayl Chair Back Detail

The true sophistication of the chair’s back isn't that obvious although it looks stylish and modern. At first glance the back just appears to be an open plastic mesh, which whilst true, belies its actual capabilities.

Every part of the complex web-like structure has been precision designed to provide just the right amount of comfort and support so users don’t suffer fatigue or discomfort.

Closer examination shows the open web framing uses different thicknesses of material and cell shapes to give you support where it’s most needed while at the same time allowing freedom of movement. As it’s frameless you never feel the constraints of hard edges yet know your back and spine are being taken care of.

Generation chair back

Generation Chair Back

When Formway Design came up with the idea for Knoll’s Generation chair it too wanted to produce a chair offering great comfort as well as unrestrained movement. It also opted for an open cell back and yet it’s quite different in design to the Sayl, being partially double skinned in the middle.

It’s largely due to creative thinking and modern materials that these chairs have been introduced. In fact, it’s likely 10 years ago neither product would have been feasible.

Multiple Layer Mesh

Liberty Mesh Back

Liberty Mesh Back Detail

Another interesting development in chair back design is the advanced use of materials. Take Humanscale’s Liberty chair with its form-sensing technology. It’s made up from 3 panels of mesh cleverly sewn together to create a supportive contoured shape.

Unlike single panel mesh it doesn’t just sag as body weight is applied, instead it displaces and provides proper support and comfort.


Self-Adjusting Chairs
The other big change in recent years is the trend towards self-adjusting chairs. This largely eliminates the need to pull levers and turn knobs as these chairs recognize user movement and respond accordingly.

HÅG’s Futu chair with its inBalance mechanism is a good example of this type of chair. It’s designed to carefully and comfortably support user movement and for those who like to tweak things it has a simple 5 step lever for fine tuning. For most though this isn't necessary and it’s a question of sit and forget.

What Are The Common Threads In Modern Office Chair Design?
It’s fascinating to see the different innovative ideas designers create and although the result is a diverse range of products there are certain fundamental things they are all working towards.

Taking a look at office seat design over the past 10 years or so the trend is towards:

  • Greater comfort, support and overall user experience
  • Huge advances in environmentally friendly materials
  • Simpler products, automating functions where possible
  • Fewer components and overall reduction in the weight of the end product
  • Innovative use of modern materials, often never previously used in chairs

Future Trends
Overall there has been a significant improvement in office chair design in recent years and it’s likely that this will continue as manufacturers attempt to keep up with each other.

It’s also true to say that these radical new designs have all come from major players in the office furniture industry. This is unlikely to change as the cost of developing products from scratch can run into millions of dollars and so puts it beyond the reach of all but the largest in the industry.


Humanscale Picks Up A Prestigious Red Dot Award For The Diffrient World Chair

Humanscale has won a coveted Red Dot award for its Diffrient World Chair as the Best of the Best in the Office Furniture category, awarded to a single product in a broad product class this is a great achievement.

It is almost exclusively self adjusting and apart from setting the height users can leave it all up to the chair to work out the most comfortable and supportive position to place you in.

All this has been achieved by using just 8 major components with the chair actually functioning without a mechanism and incorporating form-sensing mesh upholstery for perfect back and lumbar support removing the need for manually adjustable components.

The only downside is the chair still isn't officially launched and doesn't look like appearing until early summer 2010.

However, Diffrient World is only one of Humanscale's award winning chairs and the good news it is running a promotion on all its products offering an additional 15% saving on current prices.

Follow these links for reviews and details on the savings on the Freedom chair and Saddle seat as well as the Liberty chair, which are all great products in their own rights.


When Office Chair Fiction Is Dressed Up As Fact

It's perhaps not surprising people feel confused researching and buying something like a humble office chair when you consider the amount of misinformation on the internet today. And this is true of many things you find on websites presented as factual which are often anything but.

To an extent this is understandable, for example chairs described as ergonomic office chairs can be almost anything as there is no finite definition of what ergonomic means when describing office seating and believe me some stretch the imagination to its limits with their “ergonomic” offerings.

However, some things are clear cut and so there is no excuse for getting it wrong. I was struck by this today when reading an article about Herman Miller chairs, in which the author refers to Herman Miller the person in the present tense as though he is still a key member of staff at Herman Miller Inc.

Whilst it's true to say he was one of the company's founders in the early 1920s its highly unlikely he is still alive, nonetheless I'm not going to say he is or isn't as I simply don't know.

The article goes on to give the impression that Herman Miller is responsible for producing the Liberty and Freedom chairs, which are in fact products from Humanscale.

All this is highly misleading for someone starting out researching office chairs and whilst we can't be expected to get every little detail right, such obvious inaccuracies do nobody any favors.

Do you have any good examples of fiction presented as fact?

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