Review of The Humanscale Freedom Chair
Humanscale’s Freedom chair is one of the earliest examples of the modern trend in office chair design for automating adjustments wherever possible.
Although it was launched as long ago as 1999 it is still right at the forefront of today’s quality office seating options.
The reason for its continued success is in no small way down to the design skills of of its creator, Neils Diffrient.
The chair also holds 10 international design awards and rightly so.
Let’s take a look at what makes the Freedom stand out from the crowd.
What makes the Freedom chair different?
The first thing you'll notice about it is there aren't the usual array of knobs and levers you expect to see on an office chair. That’s not to say that it doesn't have any manual adjustments, it does. However, they are handled more discreetly and there aren't many as the chair’s movements are automated.
We’ll begin with the manual adjustments and most are one offs.
Seat height is taken care of by an unobtrusive paddle on the right underside of the chair, you just raise it to adjust the height and release it to lock in your desired position. Next, we have seat depth so vital for proper leg comfort. This is handled by an even more discreet paddle under the front edge of the seat. As you raise it you are then able to slide the seat in and out, then releasing the lever to lock in your perfect seat depth adjustment.
Once these two are taken care of, next is chair back height. Slipping your right hand behind the chair you will find the back height adjustment lever. Simply pressing it in allows you to easily move the back up and down to arrange it for your needs, again release it to lock in your setting. Not only does the back have a great shape for low lumbar support, it also pivots by an inch taking care of your spine as you recline.
Really all three of these are pretty much one off settings which you will adjust and fine tune during the first couple of weeks using the chair.
Time to move on to the final two manual adjustments and these cover optional items, both of which are highly recommended. First, adjustable arms and these are a little different to the sort of adjustable arms normally found on desk chairs, here's why.
The arms are supported from the rear of the chair on extended tubular steel supports. The great thing with these arms is that any time you don't want to use them you can quickly lower them down to seat level and they're gone. To unlock the arm mechanism you just grip the front edge of each arm and twist slightly backwards. This then releases the arms which you simply lift up or down and let go when you have them where you want them.
Finally, there is the option of a headrest. It adjusts via its two vertical supports, you reach over your shoulders, grip it on each side and pull or push to raise of lower it. The rest is a sizeable, curved shape which you can set to rest either your neck or head on. Like all chair headrests, it’s really intended for use when reclining. And if you like to recline a lot you'll find it incredibly supportive.
So much for the things you need to set, let’s look at what the chair does for you.
This is where the chair does the heavy lifting courtesy of its unique counter balanced mechanism. What this does is to sense the individual user’s weight and movements in the chair and automatically compensate by moving the chair’s seat and back smoothly to where you want to go. As it does this it supports you properly so your body isn't strained.
And the good thing is it doesn't mind whether you are short or tall, small or large because with the inbuilt controls all the adjustments are automated. It’s designed to be suitable for 95% of the office working population.
Next we’ll look at the dimensions and technical details of the Freedom.
Dimensions And Technical Specification
The Freedom comes in a single size and the entry level model starts as an armless chair, unless you don't like arms it’s highly recommended you go for the armed version.
The seat pad measures 21’’ wide by 19.5’’ deep with its seat slide depth controller giving 2.25’’ of front to back movement. As standard the seat has top quality foam pads which are shaped for added comfort. There is an option to add a gel seat cushion which helps relieve pressure points when sitting for prolonged periods. Most people will find the standard foam will be fine.
Seat height adjustment as standard is between 16’’ and 21’’, there is also a choice of low and high cylinders for short or tall built users.
The backrest measures 21’’ wide by 18’’ high with 3’’ of vertical height adjustment. Its high quality molded foam has an inbuilt groove for your spine to rest in.
The adjustable arms can be placed at seat level and raised by up to 6’’ in 0.33’’ increments. They come in plastic with the option of adding gel pads for comfort and this is recommended. It’s also possible to specify advanced arms and these have the added benefit of inward swiveling heads. People with closely set shoulders will find them to be excellent for proper support.
The headrest is certainly worth considering if you like to recline a fair bit during your working day. It’s well shaped and proportioned and is big enough to let you move your head to one side as you relax. It can be raised and lowered by a total of 5’’.
There are 3 different frame finishes, graphite, titanium or polished aluminum. Upholstery comes in a huge range of choices including fabrics, suede effect, vinyl and leather. Some of the finishes involve additional cost.
The Freedom is covered by Humanscale’s legendary 15 year warranty.
Humanscale’s Freedom chair is the first task chair it released, even so it still remains a very desirable seat to own. In use it is comfortable and remains so even after many hours working in it.
The adjustable arms are highly flexible in use with the ability to drop them right out of the way when you don’t need them. All the components on the chair are made to a high standard, which is only to be expected on a product carrying a 15 year warranty.
As ergonomic chairs it’s definitely one to have on your short list.