Iconic Freedom Chair celebrates 20 years

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Niels Diffrient’s Freedom chair. Launched by Humanscale, the Freedom chair revolutionized the seating industry as the first ever self-adjusting chair. It is revered for its elegant simplicity, functionality and timeless design. To mark the occasion, Humanscale is launching a year long initiative that will include various events and activations around the world.

Niels Diffrient and the Freedom Chair

As the pioneer of ergonomics, Niels Diffrient aimed to redefine the concept of the traditional task chair and instead design seating solutions that efficiently adapt to users, allowing them to move freely from posture to posture. Diffrient’s unique approach removed complexities found in other chairs, such as cumbersome recline levers and back tension dials. He realized that movement during recline took pressure off the user’s body, and transferred it to the back of the chair.

As a result, he developed the weight-sensitive, self-locking recline mechanism, definitively reinventing the features of modern task seating to be truly simple, beautiful and functional.

Shortly after its launch, the Freedom was praised by the New York Times for ‘setting the gold standard’ in seating. Today sales total over 2 million pieces. Freedom has also won 10 international awards and been featured in close to 50 TV shows and films.

Niels Diffrient

My goal is always to design chairs that are so simple to use that the functionality is often invisible to the user.

Rethinking the way we sit down

Introduced in 1999, the Freedom was the first chair to remove the traditional manual knobs and levers and replace them with the sitter’s body weight and the laws of physics. This resulting self-adjusting mechanism allows users to move freely from posture to posture without thinking about it. 

Freedom was the first chair to remove the traditional manual knobs and levers and replace them with the sitter’s body weight and the laws of physics

  1. Automatic headrest
    Freedom's dynamic, position-sensitive headrest adjusts to cradle your head and neck as you recline, and moves out of the way when you sit upright automatically.

  2. Recline action
    As you recline, you'll maintain a near consistent eye level, while the angle between your torso and legs opens up for better body function.

  3. Contoured cushions
    The cushions are sculpted to closely follow body contours, which increase contact and decreases concentrated loads. Our optional Technogel® seat cushion maximizes weight distribution and comfort.

  4. Responsive backrest
    The pivoting backrest automatically adapts to the changing needs of your spine during recline.

  5. Synchronous armrests
    Freedom's body-friendly gel armrests move up and down together and stay with you during recline, always keeping you in supported balance.

  6. Body fit
    The seat and backrest may be independently positioned to fit your exact body size.

  7. Intelligent mechanism
    With Freedom's revolutionary counter-balance mechanism, your weight automatically balances the force required to recline the chair. So whether you're big or small, short or tall, the recline tension is always perfectly adjusted to let you move while keeping you fully supported in all positions.

Join the photo competition

Help Humanscale celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Humanscale's Freedom chai! From now until June 20, share a photo of your Freedom chair for the chance to win a custom-built Freedom Headrest. Click here to enter: https://bit.ly/2Gt8agK

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