The visual simplicity of Humanscale’s chairs belies the state-of the-art technology that allows them to adjust to every user – hardly a knob or lever required!
August 4th, 2017
The old adage ‘less is more’ certainly rings true for office furniture manufacturer Humanscale. With a firm belief that the highest level of functionality is achieved through simplicity, the company swaps heavy complex mechanisms with the user’s own body weight and laws of physics, to encourage movement and provide the most comfortable chair possible.
Since its inception in 1983, the American company has been leading the way in ergonomic design and offering intuitive furniture that improves the comfort and health of office workers around the world. This has been greatly advanced by collaborating with designers such as Don Chadwick, Todd Bracher and (in earlier times) Niels Diffrient – the mastermind behind its award winning Freedom, Diffrient Smart, Diffrient World and Liberty chairs.
Diffrient once said, “My goal is to design chairs that are so simple to use that the functionality is often invisible to the user,” and this ethos has remained at the company’s core ever since. Indeed, there are now several key ‘invisible’ features that all Humanscale chairs share to ensure superior comfort and ergonomics.
Let’s take a closer look…
Humanscale develops all of its chairs with fewer knobs and levers so they are incredibly easy to use. Every design allows the person sitting to change posture easily without any manual controls, which has the added benefit of ensuring they are always used in a correct, healthy way. Neutral posture mention? We design with fewer knobs and levers and with passive ergonomics in mind. Passive ergonomics is whereby the fit between the environment and the human operator happens automatically without the need for manual adjustment.
Today it need hardly be said that the bulk of our working processes are spent engaging with any one piece of technology – usually desktop computers or laptops. And while this may very well be the case, such posturing is considered ‘forward-working’, and often irresponsibly encourages slouching, hunching and all manner of torsions on our spines.
Humanscale aspires to repositioning our seating arrangements in such instances to instead achieve a ‘neutral posture’:
Humanscale understands that while a soft seat cushion may be comfortable for a short period of time, it becomes very uncomfortable when the user sits on it for many hours and this is not conducive to working! As such, its seat cushions are engineered to be denser than its competitors and the company also pioneered the use of gel in-seat cushions. Because gel doesn’t compress, it supports the sitter’s body and maximises comfort over a long period of time.
With most office chairs, the arms are attached to the seat but this means that when the user leans back or changes posture, they lose this support. Humanscale, however, designs all of its chairs with the arms attached to the back so that when the user moves, the arms move with them and are in a healthy, neutral posture every time.
Instead of traditional tension mechanisms, which can weigh up to <use metric conversion> and be made of up to 40 parts, Humanscale’s task chairs use the laws of physics and the sitter’s own body weight. Its chairs automatically read the weight of the user, allowing the mechanism to provide the perfect recline with the correct tension for every individual. It’s as if the chair was made especially for them!
In addition to being supremely comfortable, Humanscale’s chairs have been designed to look as good in ten years time as they do today. How do they achieve this? First of all, its textiles attach to the cushion without adhesives, which prevents wrinkling over time and is better for the environment. Also, its arm caps feature a separate, foam insert so they won’t tear and its plastics have a texture that prevent scratching. Finally, none of Humanscale’s chair surfaces are painted or treated, so there’s no chipping or scratching, and its textiles exceed 150,000 double rubs in the Wyzenbeek test, which is five times the industry standard!
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