When shopping for a high-end office chair, Humanscale is definitely a name you’re going to come across. The award-winning brand features a handful of chairs that are beloved by their customers. When looking for the right chair for you, it’s important to know how to differentiate models and how each model can affect your seating experience. In this blog, we’ll help you understand the difference between the four most popular Humanscale office chairs and how to find the best chair for you.
All four of the chairs we are talking about in this blog will come almost fully assembled, needing only to have the top half of the chair connected to the bottom half of the chair. When looking at the warranty, you’re going to get 15 years of coverage for users up to 300 lbs. This will qualify for 24/7 usage, but there are some exceptions to that because the foam, fabric, and arm caps will be limited to only five years of coverage (without the 24/7 rating). Unfortunately, the foam, fabric, and arm caps are the components most likely to fail in a five-year period and they will not qualify for the 24/7 rating.
The return policy for these chairs doesn’t quite stack up against its competitors like Steelcase and Herman Miller. Humanscale chairs are actually not returnable at all! They consider all of their chairs to be homemade, so once it arrives at your door, you’re not going to be able to return. This makes it important to know exactly what you want so you’re happy with your purchase.
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Most Popular Herman Miller Office Chairs
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Diffrient World Starting Price: $899.00 + Free Shipping Shop at BTOD.com >>
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The Diffrient World features a concept that you will see on most Humanscale office chairs and that is a minimalistic design. Humanscale really focuses on keeping their chairs aesthetically pleasing while utilizing the minimalistic functionality. The Diffrient World is a very clean, nice looking office chair that will fit into most work environments. This chair is different from other brands because it features what Humanscale refers to as the Mechanism Free Recline. Without a mechanism, this chair reclines based on the user’s weight in a unique way. Unfortunately, with this type of style, the chair has a lot of plastic and lightweight design, it tends to be fairly noisy when you move around in it and you won’t be able to customize it to your specific settings. Typically, office chairs feature standard rocking with synchro-tilt or knee-tilt mechanisms, so if you’re looking for something along those lines, the Diffrient World may not be the chair for you. While this chair is extremely minimalistic, it does come with seat height and seat depth adjustment.
This is the only Humanscale office chair that is available with a mesh seat design. The mesh option is soft, stretchy, and comfortable, and may be one of the most flexible mesh seats we’ve seen in our office. On the downside to that, some people said they could feel the plastic below the seat because of how flexible this seat is. Something that people really liked about this seat is the mesh front edge, versus typical office chairs having a plastic edge. A potential problem with this seat, if you are too large for it, is that you may run up along the plastic sides, which may be a very uncomfortable sitting experience. Because of this, this chair is probably best suited for average to slim to petite users because of the stretch mesh and the seat frame. Overall, this is the smallest Humanscale on this list, so if you’re a larger individual, you may be more comfortable in a different chair.
The backrest was all around liked by those in the office who tested this chair. It features an all-mesh backrest with a tri-panel system, which really allows the mesh to conform to the shape of the person using the chair. Another thing that helps it conform to users is the pivoting function that allows the back to pivot back and forth, conforming specifically to the user in the chair. This isn’t a backrest that features an adjustable lumbar support system, but the pivoting function paired with the flexible mesh did make it one of the more comfortable backrests for testers in our office.
Lastly, the Diffrient World offers multiple options for armrest packages. You can go armless, standard arms, or fully adjustable when selecting which package you would like. If you’re going to add arms to the chair, we’d recommend going the fully adjustable route because you’re going to get height adjustment as well as maneuverable arm caps, allowing you pivot in all directions. The pads on the arms are fairly comfortable, but not quite as comfortable as competing chairs from Herman Miller or other large brands.
Diffrient Smart Starting Price: $1,119.00 + Free Shipping Shop at BTOD.com >>
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The Diffrient Smart follows the same minimalistic approach as the Diffrient World chair, so you’ll find a lot of lightweight plastic and l materials on the chair. This is another chair with limited functionality as you only seat height and depth adjustments paired with the mechanism-free recline motion. It’s equipped with the tri-panel backrest design with pivoting motion and a nice natural curve supplying back support like the Diffrient World.
The armrests are almost identical in terms of feel and function to the World chair as well. With that being said, we highly recommend upgrading to the fully adjustable arm package, giving you height, width, and depth adjustments.
The two major differences between this chair the Diffrient World are the way the chair looks and the seat design. When looking at the backrest and armrests of this chair, you’ll see some aesthetic differences from the Diffrient World. The Diffrient Smart went away from all mesh design, and instead incorporated a padded seat. This seat has about 2 inches of foam padded over a flexible plastic seat pan. This gives you a much different seating experience that is much larger and more flexible, making this chair much more suited for average to larger sized individuals as compared to the World chair. Not only is this chair bigger, but it has more room in the seat because of the design.
The Humanscale Liberty is one of the pioneer chairs when it comes to minimalistic design in the high-end office chair industry. The Liberty paved the way for chairs like the Diffrient World and Diffrient Smart. This chair shares a lot of similarities to these chairs when it comes to minimalism, material, and functionality. You’ll find a lot of plastic on this chair, which is very lightweight, easy to use, and ecofriendly.
The Liberty features the same kind of tri-flex back design as the Diffrient World and Smart but the backrest is a bit taller. This makes this chair best for those who are taller or prefer a higher backrest.
The seat on this chair is also very similar to the Smart chair. It features a thin layer of padding on a flexible seat pan, providing you with a lot more room to work with while you’re seated. Similarly, to the Smart chair, it does provide support for long hours, but it will be on the firm side.
One of the biggest differences this chair has to the Smart chair is the armrest design. The Liberty doesn’t have any armrest upgrades available except for height adjustment. You can’t add depth or pivot adjustments to the arm caps, which may be the biggest downside to this chair. We almost go as far as not recommending this chair If you spend a lot of time tasking while seated because of the limitation the arms have on this specific chair. The areas where this chair excels in are conference rooms or meeting rooms because it is one of the best-looking chairs on the market and you won’t need a lot of adjustments for this type of setting.
The Freedom is Humanscale’s flagship chair that differs greatly from not only any chair on this list, but any chair on the market. This may be the first chair ever designed with a weight-sensitive mechanism. It functions quite differently than similar mechanisms used by Herman Miller in a way that puts you in one position and holds you there. Competitors using a weight-sensitive mechanism tend to have a rocking motion, while the Freedom finds a position and holds you there. With that being said, this chair is great for those who remain static and ergonomic while seated versus those who move around a lot.
The reason for this weight sensitive method is because of the minimalistic approach by Humanscale that you can see on the other chairs on this list. On this chair you don’t have to deal with tension knobs or levers and can just move the backrest to the position you’d like, and it will hold you there.
Humanscale decided to use a synchronous armrest design, meaning the armrests move in tandem together, making it very easy to adjust. However, this makes it so the armrests are incapable of being moved at differing heights, sacrificing the ability to have your arms at differing heights. There is an optional upgrade package where you can get width adjustments on the arms, but the range is fairly small with this upgrade, making the arms wider but not necessarily more narrow. One of the main problems with this chair is that the arms are fairly wide set, making it suitable for average to larger sized individuals.
The pads themselves on the arms are very soft, squishy, and comfortable like the other chairs on this list. A positive about the arms on the Freedom is that they are a little bit larger, giving you a little more room to deal with and making the most comfortable arm pads on this list.
The seat on this chair is very similar to what you get on the Liberty chair. It features a nice wide seat design with no hard edges and a flexible plastic seat pan covered in around 2 inches of high-end foam. We consider this to be an overall well-rounded seat that is supportive to sit in. If you prefer it, a nice addition you can add to this seat is a comfortable gel-padding.
The Freedom features a back that is very different than the other chairs on this list. This backrest is padded with about the same amount of foam that we see in the seat giving you nice cushion and getting away from the mesh design. It’s the only backrest from Humanscale that is equipped with height adjustment and features a natural curve that conforms to your back. It also incorporates the pivot function that you see on the other chairs, allowing the backrest to tilt a little bit to conform to whoever is sitting in the chair.
Lastly, this chair has an optional headrest addition. This is the only Humanscale chair with this option. If you opt in, the headrest comes with height adjustment and a curve, similar to the lumbar curve, which really allows you to put it in the curve of your neck for optimal support. It also has nice padding, similar to the backrest, to keep you comfortable while leaning against it. The backrest and headrest combination do function much differently than any other similar combination we’ve used. They don’t move at the same angle; the headrest stays in a more fixed position as you move the backrest, keeping your eye level at the same position throughout the entire recline, allowing you to keep your eyes forward and tasking no matter how far you move back or forward. This is great for ergonomics and tasking, but not necessarily great for relaxing and kicking back. Depending on you’re using your chair will dictate whether or not the headrest will be a good fit for you.