This article is a part of "Office Chairs Hall of Fame" article series.

The Humanscale Freedom is a staple in the world of professional office spaces. Combining comfort, class and conscientious design, the Freedom has earned its place in the Office Chair Hall of Fame for its excellence in all fields.

Discover how this game-changing chair came into being, how exactly it works and how it continues to support the biggest businesses to this day.

The History:

The creation of the Freedom chair was spearheaded by the iconic American industrial designer, Niels Diffrient. Diffrient was responsible for hundreds of designs, but it is the Humanscale Freedom which continues to be one of his most enduring legacies.

The reason behind the seismic response to the Freedom at the time was how it innovated through its internal counterbalance mechanism. It is this mechanism that allows the chair to support users at all stages during a recline. This had never been achieved before in office furniture, and it paved the way for designers for decades to come.



Other parts of historical importance were the chair’s patented synchronous arms and the chair’s headrest. The arms were able to be adjusted at the same time, and the headrest alters its position as the chair reclines, allowing the user’s head to keep in an upright position.

Features of The Freedom:

The Freedom has the accolade of the world’s first self-adjusting chair. One of the truly special features of the Freedom is the innovative backrest. It is formed with a flexible section which reacts to the sitter’s body during use. This reactive approach keeps users comfortable and encourages better posture over longer periods of time. 

Various types of adjustments can be made to the Freedom model with easy use of the chair’s sliders and levers. These include the chair’s height, headrest height and even the position of the seat pan. 

The armrests can be also moved, giving users the chance to tailor their Freedom exactly to them.

closeup of the back of armrests on humanscale freedom office chair

This method of back support is much more natural compared to the Freedom’s competitors, and it removes frequent adjustment making–especially if multiple people will be using the same chair. 

Just some of the Freedom’s features include:

  • High quality and long-lasting
  • Real leather padding made from Ticino and Corvara leather
  • Multiple adjustment levels
  • Reactive, moving backrest that adjusts to users
  • Intuitive recline process


Additional Features:

There are a number of optional features for the Freedom that have already been discussed above. Other addon features include:

CYLINDER OPTIONS - Low height cylinder more appropriate for small chair users. High and extra-high cylinder variants with included foot rings.


humanscale freedom office char foot ring

FOOT RING - Polished and adjustable foot rest that can change height to suit users’ leg length. 

some of the available casters for freedom office chair

CASTER OPTIONS - Option for non-rolling wheels for fixed positioning, soft wheels for hard floors and locking wheel variant.



The Build:

Offering the absolute best in chair and ergonomic design, the Freedom is a masterstroke for office furniture.

Let’s examine the materials that make up the chair itself. The framing of the Freedom consists of die-cast aluminium, which gives the chair a satisfying weight, but doesn’t restrict its manoeuvrability. This perfect balance between the two means that users always feel supported, but never restricted. 

humanscale freedom office chair back

There are a number of plastic spines pivot as the chair enters a recline. This tilts the headrest forward as the chair moves back, allowing for improved head posture.

The seat of the Freedom is attached to the chair through four hinged arms. It’s these that bracket the seat to the chair’s stem. The armrests are joined with pivoting steel lengths on the chair’s double spine, which allows the armrests to be adjusted simultaneously, rather than be fixed in place. 

The rest of the standard model is styled in a graphite colour and is decorated with sections of fabric. These breathable materials keep the chair well-ventilated and cool, even after hours of use. The small sections of plastic on the rest of the chair are known to be very durable, and are able to last for years even with daily use.

The chair’s casters (the wheels) have a strong and satisfying feel to them. They roll smoothly on all common surfaces, yet maintain their position when the chair is stationary.

Durability is another one of Humanscale’s regularly boasted build features when it comes to the Freedom. These chairs are built to last for years of constant use, and even the oldest chairs in use show very little signs of wear and tear. Padding maintains its structure and integrity too, meaning that the Freedom is excellent at staying in the best condition possible.

The chair comes in a standard fabric model, but can be upgraded to a more fashionable leather variant.

The Design:

Ultimately, design is where an office chair sinks or swims. Fortunately, the Freedom is a masterclass in ergonomic and furniture design.

Front of humanscale freedom office chair with headrest London

Diffrient, a designer with more than 10 awards under his belt, utilised laws of physics and the weight of the sitter to facilitate instantaneous comfort for any individual. Ensuring that the Freedom reacted to each individual, Diffrient was able to achieve a level of accessibility and comfort that went unmatched for decades.

Much of the Freedom’s success comes from its reactive backrest, which adjusts depending on the shape, size and movement of the user. This clever design means that the chair can mould itself to whoever is using it, and allows for truly individualised comfort. The same can be said for the effortless recline, which lets users recline with their head still supported. This combination allows the user to move whenever they like, and still experience robust sitting support. This also has the side benefit of letting users move frequently, which promotes healthy posture and sitting habits.

Beyond the nuts and bolts, the Freedom is also best known for its eye-catching aesthetic and silhouette. Opting for a classic 5-wheel design, the bottom of the chair is sleek glossy metal that fits right into any workspace. The same goes for the seat itself, which if using the leather models, boasts sophistication and professionalism of the highest degree.

Meanwhile, the standard fabric model still makes a fantastic every-day work chair that can be used anywhere in the workplace. This chameleon-like nature allows the Freedom to blend in anywhere. From boardrooms to office cubicles, the Freedom is able to show professionalism in any situation at every moment. 

How It Feels:

Comfort is key when it comes to working furniture, and the Humanscale Freedom does not slip up in that regard. The chair allows for great comfort at a desk, whether it's being used for 5 minutes or 5 hours. The comfortably padded seat and backrest keep users comfortable, yet provide enough structure and stability that it does not impede on posture or support.

The chair managed to find the perfect balance between many polar opposites, and this is perhaps best exemplified in its ability to tow the line between comfort and support.

relaxed man sitting on the humanscale freedom office chairInspired by the comfort and durability of bicycle seats, the Freedom uses fabric over gel pads for its seating. Inside of the seat is a gel substructure, maximising comfort. Much of the chair’s comfort can be attributed to these cushions, as well as the various optional addons. The Freedom uses moulded polyurethane foam cushions, which are light and comfortable, even after long periods of use. 

Buyers can also opt for extra cushions including Technogel® padding on the armrests, seat, backrest and headrest.

The Impact:

Humanscale is an industry giant. Since their early days in 1983 they have pioneered products designed for maximum comfort and ease of use.

Besides the countless users who can thank the chair for years of comfort and back assistance, the now-famous crowning jewel of Humanscale had a massive impact on the design industry.

One of Niels’ primary goals with the Freedom was to create a chair that was junctional across the world. By using users’ bodies to inform the shape and movement of the chair, Niels was able to ensure that it would work in any context.

The Freedom was also the first ever chair to take away the knobs and levers that had been the standard in office chairs up until that point. It was only in 1999 when the Freedom entered the market that the adjustment features we now take for granted came into existence. This, in effect, changed the way that millions of people across the globe sit every single day.

The chair was an immediate success, and its legacy continues to endure. After its release the chair earned 10 international awards and has sold up to 2 million units to this day. It has also been present throughout popular culture, being featured in nearly 50 films and shows.

Reviews commonly refer to the Freedom as one of the best chairs on the market, decades later from its original release.

Industry leaders and reviewers alike often raise the fact that Humanscale’s Freedom has great value for money. While still a high-end item, its price is a nose dive compared to competitors with higher price ranges and lower quality standards.

No, in fact many believe that the Freedom chair is the best option when it comes to value for money in office furniture. 

The Conclusion:

Humanscale is best known for its high-end range of office chairs, and the Freedom continues to be the brand’s most-loved model. With a price point that makes every penny count, the Freedom is an impeccably made chair that is built to last.

Humanscale freedom office chair on the background of London highriseIt’s because of those reasons above, as well as many more, that we have placed the Humanscale Freedom into our Office Chair Hall of Fame. With a chair like this on the market, you really do not need anything else.

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