The list of office chairs that are recognizable by their look or by their name is a short one. The Humanscale Liberty chair is one of those chairs. Since its release in 2004, it has been a leading model in the task and conference chair categories due to its modern look and simple functionality. While it is a popular chair, it is also on the higher-end of the price spectrum. Is the Liberty worth the price? That is the question we hope to help answer for you today. We will take a closer look at the Liberty so that you can get all of the information you need to decide if the Liberty will be a good fit for your needs.
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Humanscale Liberty Review Snapshot
- Good for design focused applications
- Made in USA with high end build
- Good seat comfort
- Strong warranty
- Ships almost fully assembled
- Environmentally friendly
- Very little overall adjustability
- Arms lack adjustments
- Recline may not be comfortable
- Not a good tasking option for people under 5’10”
Humanscale has been in business since 1983. Since its start, Humanscale has established itself as a leader in office ergonomics. It’s responsible for some of the most successful products on the market. Humanscale has a focus on producing high quality products that are simple to use. Its products are known for their sleek look and environmentally friendly designs.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Specs / Features / Pricing
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Scope of Users
– Seat Comfort
– Back Support
– Armrest Comfort
– Ergonomic Adjustments
– Upholstery Options
– Wheel/Caster Options
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Bottom Line
Humanscale Liberty Chair Video Review
Country of Origin
Made in USA
Overall Dimensions: 26.5”W x 25”D x 39.25”-43.75”H
Seat Height: 16.5” – 21”
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
Seat Dimensions: 21.25”W x 16.5-18.75”D
Back Dimensions: 20”W x 23”H
Distance Between Arms: 19”
Arm Height from Seat: 4”-8.25”
Base Dimensions: 25” Diameter
Chair Weight: 34 lbs.
Shipping Box Dimensions: 24.5” x 27.5” x 29.5”
Shipping Box Weight: 45 lbs.
Weight sensitive, self-locking recline mechanism
Tri-Panel Mesh Technology
Contoured seat cushion
Pneumatic seat height adjustment
Seat depth adjustment
Arm height adjustment
Starting Price – $889.00
The Liberty chair has some options that let you customize the chair. The chair will cost as little as $889 if you select the most basic version. This is with no arms, black frame and trim, Lotus seat upholstery, standard cylinder and standard casters. The available upgrades and costs are below. For more details on the upholstery options see the “Upholstery Options” section.
The model we ordered has the following configuration: Adjustable Duron Arms, Silver Frame with Silver Trim, Monofilament Stripe Mesh, Black Mesh, Black Textile, No Stitching, Standard Foam Seat Pan, Standard Cylinder 5″, Standard Hard Casters, No Fireproofing, Standard Matching Base, Individually Boxed = $1,029.00.
|Fixed Duron Arms||$90.00|
|Adjustable Duron Arms||$140.00|
|Gel Arm Pads||$20.00|
|Matching Textile for Arms||$30.00|
|Polished Aluminum Finish||$110.00|
|3” Return to Height Cylinder||$47.00|
|Low Cylinder 3.75”||$30.00|
|Tall cylinder 5”||$42.00|
|High 8” Cylinder with 18” Foot Ring||$105.00|
|High 8” Cylinder with 21” Foot Ring||$130.00|
|Extra – High 10” cylinder with 18” Foot Ring||$105.00|
|Extra – High 10” cylinder with 21” Foot Ring||$130.00|
|CAL 133 Fireproofing||$42.00|
The return policy on your Liberty chair will depend on who you make your purchase from. The Liberty is sold by Humanscale directly and it is also sold through authorized dealers. If you buy it directly from Humanscale, then all sales are final. You cannot return the chair. Some dealers have chosen to adopt the same return policy and others have chosen to go with their own policies. As an example, BTOD.com allows returns under our normal return policy, which is a 25% restocking fee.
When I wrote about the best office chair warranties in the industry, Humanscale was included on that list. They have some of the best coverage you will find. They will cover your Liberty chair for 15 years. The warranty is valid for people weighing up to 300 lbs. and also for 24/7 usage. The only exceptions are on the foam, fabric and arm pads. Those are covered for 5 years and for single shift usage of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
One of the main reasons why Humanscale was listed as one of my picks for best warranties is that it offers on-site repairs, depending on your location. There are only a handful of companies that I have found to offer this type of service.
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The Liberty will be shipped FedEx/UPS Ground. The box is fairly large and weighs 45 lbs. It is manageable for one person but having a second person on hand wouldn’t hurt. If you are by yourself, there are some holes that are cut into the sides of the box that make it easier to move.
The Liberty chair is well packaged. There is only a little bit of cardboard inside the box along with the plastic bag that the chair is in, but there is no foam or other filler product. Even though the amount of packaging is limited, it is packed in a way that the chair remains safe. Our Liberty arrived with no damage or defects.
The Liberty chair arrives as close to fully assembled as you can get, without being fully assembled. The total assembly time is about a minute for most people. The chair arrives in two separate pieces. The top portion of the chair includes the seat, back and arms all pre-installed. The bottom portion of the chair consists of the base, wheels and cylinder, also pre-installed. The top portion of the chair just needs to be placed on the bottom half and the assembly is complete.
The Liberty chair is a well built chair. It scored an 83/100 for build quality, which currently puts it at #6 among all the chairs we have tested. It is made in the USA with high quality components. The seat pan, base and backrest frame are all made from injection molded plastics. The rest of the frame is made from die-cast aluminum and is fused with a plastic coating or it features a polished aluminum finish. By using good quality plastic and aluminum, Humanscale was able to create a high-end chair that features a lightweight design.
One of the most appealing things about the Liberty chair is how nice it looks. The Liberty was designed by Neils Diffrient. He wanted to create a minimal but functional mesh task chair. The Liberty has a clean look with the lack of paddles and levers sticking out from the seat. It has curved lines and contemporary aesthetics. This chair will fit with almost any modern office.
Scope of Users
The Liberty did not do very well in our scope of users category. This means that it is not the best option to fit a wide range of people. The Liberty does a couple things really well when it comes to accommodating a wide range of people. The seat height range is great for the 95th percentile. The Liberty also has a seat slider, which allows you to control the depth of the seat.
The problem lies with the armrests and their lack of adjustability. With only arm height adjustment, the arms are not able to adjust to fit a wide range of people. They are set at 19” apart, which is going to work for people that are about 5’10” and over. People shorter than 5’10” will most likely have their elbows at an outward angle, instead of hanging straight down from the shoulders.
The seat pan on the Liberty is made from plastic, features a slight contour and has some flexibility to it. The seat is also large with soft edges that allow you to use the entirety of the seat. The non-restrictive design and plastic seat pan give you a lot of freedom of movement while you work. You are not held in a specific place like we have seen on other mesh office chairs, like the Aeron chair.
The seat is padded in your choice of standard foam or gel. Our Liberty chair has standard foam. The standard foam is about 2” thick but it holds its shape really well and provides good support. I have had no problem staying comfortable in this seat for eight hours a day. This seat was also liked by most of the people in our office. With a score of 79/100, it is in the top eight for seat comfort.
We have not tested the Liberty with a gel seat but we do have a Freedom chair with a gel seat. The Freedom chair with gel seat scored 10 points lower for seat comfort than the standard foam seat on the Liberty. The gel seat was either really liked or really disliked. Most of the women in our office gave the gel seat a poor score. I am not sure if that is coincidence or not. I think the safe bet is to go with the standard foam, unless you have had a gel seat before or are set on getting a gel seat.
Neils Diffrient designed the backrest on the Liberty to accommodate the person sitting in the chair. He wanted the chair to automatically fit people of varying sizes as soon as they sat down in the chair. For this reason, the backrest does not have any adjustability. No tension, tilt lock, lumbar or back height adjustment. Instead, the shape of the backrest and the mesh pattern are designed to fit a wide range of people.
The Liberty features Humanscale’s Form Sensing Mesh technology and Tri-Panel design. The Tri-Panel design is meant to allow the backrest to act like a tailored shirt. By having three separate zones, each can flex independently to provide different levels of support. The mesh itself is also crucial with this system. It is soft to the touch and provides good support, but it is flexible enough to support different body shapes and movement.
The shape and frame also play a key role in the backrest design. The entire backrest features a curve. The curve is done in a way to provide lumbar support to a wide range of people. The backrest’s frame has a bit of a pivot action. This allows the backrest to tilt to that the lumbar curve can best fit the person sitting in the chair.
You have three different options when it comes to the arms on the Liberty: armless, fixed arms, or height adjustable arms. Both the fixed arms and height adjustable arms are padded. We chose the height adjustable arms on our Liberty.
The arm pad options are: standard duron, matching textile or gel. The standard duron arms are the option we chose. They feature a rubber like covering with round edges. The padding is soft and supportive. The matching textile option will put the upholstery option you choose for the seat and back on the arms.
I really like the arm pads on the Liberty. They are not bulky but they are large enough to give you a good amount of space. They are soft and remain comfortable for multiple hours at a time. The disappointment for me is the lack of adjustability. The only adjustment is for the height and even that is more limited than similarly price chairs. You have five different arm heights to choose from which means you have about an inch in between each height option.
Not having more adjustability made it impossible for me to get into my preferred tasking position. I could get in a position and make it work but it was not optimal. Just having arm pad width or pivot adjustment would have made a big difference.
There are very few manual adjustments on the Liberty. You will get pneumatic seat height adjustment, seat depth adjustment and if you upgrade the arms, you will get arm height adjustment. There are no other adjustments available. The chair was purposely designed this way as a mean to make the chair easy to use for anyone.
The chair’s recline function uses a counter-balance mechanism that moves based on the weight of the person using the chair. There are no tension adjustments or lockable positions. The chair has 17° of recline plus 7° of backrest pivot.
The recline function does not work like most office chairs. When you recline, the back of the seat raises up with you. The idea is that the chair reclines in a way that allows you to always have your eyes looking forward, instead of a normal recline that would take your eye level up. Your arms come with you as you recline, so you can remain in a tasking position through the entire range.
There are two wheel options on the Liberty: standard casters or soft casters. The standard casters are 2.75” in diameter and are meant to be used on carpeted floors. The soft casters are the same size but are designed to be used on hard surfaces.
The casters on the Liberty have a look that I have only seen on Humanscale chairs. The outer portion of the wheel is grey and the inner portion changes color depending on the finish option chosen. They look nice and function well too.
The upholstery options are where the Liberty chair really shines as a mesh office chair. You have a lot of options to choose from, which gives you the ability to choose a custom look. The backrest mesh is available in five different styles. Each style has different colors to choose from. There are 23 different mesh choices on the Liberty.
There are also a lot of options on the seat upholstery. You will have 57 different options to choose from for the seat. This includes a variety of different upholstery types. There are fabrics, vinyl, leather and even suede. No matter the seat upholstery you choose, it will be good quality. All of the options are commercial grade and tested to a minimum of 150,000 double rubs.
Humanscale offers three standard finish options. They are: black frame with black trim, silver frame with silver trim or silver frame with black trim. The frame color applies to the metal back and arm supports. The trim color applies to the plastic base, backrest frame and seat pan. The standard color options will feature a matte finish.
You also have the option to upgrade to a polished aluminum frame, which also makes the base polished aluminum. This comes at an additional cost. You can get black or silver trim. The polished aluminum will have a shine to it. This gives the Liberty a more upscale look and makes a bit more eye catching.
The chart below shows the various cylinder options available on the Liberty. It will also show the height range for each cylinder option. The standard cylinder will fit 95% of the population. A return to height cylinder is a cylinder that brings the chair to its tallest height after you get out of it.
|Cylinder Option||Height Range|
|high cylinder with foot ring||21-28.5”|
|3” return to height cylinder||16.875-19.8”|
|5” return to height cylinder||17.125-21.875”|
Humanscale keeps our environment in mind when designing their products. The Liberty features a lightweight design which means it is using less raw materials, while also shipping more efficiently than heavier chairs. The Liberty is almost entirely recyclable and it is made from some recycled components and post consumer content. The packaging is also almost entirely recyclable, containing no foam. The Liberty has received a few environmental certifications, including: GREENGUARD Gold. LEED Certified and ANSI/BIFMA level® 3.
What Do I Like?
Good for design focused applications
The thing that I like best about the Liberty chair is the way that it looks and all of the options you have to create your own look. Most mesh chairs are very limited in their color selections. But Humanscale gives you different mesh patterns, colors and seat upholstery types. When you combine the sleek modern design with all of the color options, this chair becomes a nice option for those of you that have high design as your main priority.
Made in USA with high end build
The Liberty chair is made with nice components and they function smoothly. You can be confident that the chair is built to last. The chair is also made in the USA, which makes this a nice option for those of you that only buy American made products.
Good seat comfort
The Liberty has the type of seat that is comfortable for most people. It doesn’t do anything crazy to turn people away. The spacious design with simple contour and comfortable edges make it a good pick for most people. The foam is also not too thick but it doesn’t bottom out and remains supportive.
If you are going to spend over $900 on an office chair, then you want to make sure that the chair lasts to make your investment worth it. Humanscale’s warranty helps to put your mind at ease because you know you are getting good coverage on your high-end chair.
Ships almost fully assembled
There is almost no assembly on the Liberty, which is great for offices that don’t want to deal with a bunch of long installs. It is also nice for individuals that are not comfortable putting things together or for those that simply don’t want to.
If the environment is one of your main concerns, then you can’t go wrong with a chair made by Humanscale. It takes a lot of steps to make sure it has as little of an impact as possible on the environment.
What Don’t I Like?
Very little adjustability
The overall lack of adjustability on the Liberty may be a problem for some people. Having as few as two adjustments gives you almost no room to fine tune the chair to your liking. This is especially true when we see things like tilt lock, tension adjustment and adjustable lumbar on most of the high-end chairs we have tested.
Arms lack adjustability
The lack of armrest adjustments, specifically, is probably the most disappointing thing for me about the Liberty. Having more arm adjustments is important for typing and tasking. Without them, it is tough to maintain an ergonomic posture.
Recline may not be comfortable
The recline on the Liberty is very unique and it does not feel like a normal office chair. It does not feel natural to rock in the chair because that is not what the recline is meant for. You want to use the recline to change up your tasking position so that you aren’t in the same position all day. hat means the Liberty is not a good option for people that want a chair that has a traditional rocking motion.
Not a good tasking option for people under 5’10”
I do not feel that the Liberty is a good task chair for people under 5’10”. This is because the arms are placed 19” apart and do not have any adjustments that make them closer.
After using the Liberty for an extended period of time, I find it difficult to recommend it as a task chair. The only reason for this is because of the lack of arm adjustments. I think this is a huge miss. The Liberty is priced similarly to the Aeron, Leap and Gesture but its arms are less adjustable than models that cost under $300. If you want the Liberty as a task chair, then I would just go with the Diffrient Smart. It is also made by Humanscale and is very similar to the Liberty but has three dimensional arms and a more comfortable backrest. It is almost the same price and has the same color selection.
Just because the arms lack adjustability doesn’t mean the Liberty is a bad chair. It is still a chair that is made in the USA with premium components. The chair is backed by a great warranty and there is almost no assembly when it arrives. The seat and back are comfortable for a wide range of people and the chair is simple to operate. I think the Liberty is best suited as a high-end conference chair. This is especially true when you factor in the large color selection and the clean look of the chair.
Not every chair can be perfect for every application and I think the Liberty is a great example of that. There are better options out there for task chairs but the Liberty is a great conference chair. If you are looking for a high-end mesh conference chair, then I would put the Liberty near the top of your list of chairs to consider.
Additional Office Chair Resources
- Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- Steelcase Leap v2 Ergonomic Office Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- Humanscale Diffrient Smart Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- 5 Reasons Ergonomic Chairs Will Improve Your Back Pain
- 6 Common Problems With Mesh Office Chairs
- 9 Most Common Problems With The Raynor Ergohuman Chair