Humanscale: Creating a More Comfortable Place to Work


Karen Brooking


NEW YORKI.D. Magazine’s list of the top ten companies worldwide “that help push design forward” included just one contract furniture manufacturer. Only three years after its launch, that manufacturer’s chair was singled out by The New York Times as “the gold standard in office seating.”

Its award-winning products are regularly featured on hit TV shows including 24, CSI: Miami, Ugly Betty, House and Medium, and feature films such as Transformers, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Ultimatum and G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.

It grew more than 500% between 1998 and 2008—a period when its beleaguered industry declined 10%. And it outfits much of the Fortune 500 with best-in-class ergonomic work tools that improve the comfort and safety of office workers.

Despite its impressive resume—and despite the fact that you very well may be using some of its products at your own desk—Humanscale is one of the office industry’s best-kept secrets.

Beginning with its first product—an anti-glare filter that improved the visibility of monochrome monitors in the early 1980s—Humanscale has quietly and methodically designed some of the most groundbreaking products in the industry. It revolutionized adjustable keyboard supports in the late 1990s, and today is the runaway leader in high-end articulating keyboard systems.

Humanscale’s Freedom chair—designed by renowned industrial designer Niels Diffrient—broke new ground by combining unprecedented functionality with minimal manual controls, utilizing dynamic mechanisms that adapt to each unique user automatically. Since its introduction in 1999, Freedom has won 10 international design awards and has been featured in virtually every major design publication. Diffrient’s design for the Liberty chair set the bar for mesh seating with its revolutionary Form-Sensing Mesh Technology, a tri-panel configuration of non-stretch mesh that provides tailor-made lumbar support without clunky external devices. Continuing Freedom’s legacy, Liberty has collected a number of prestigious awards in its own right, including earning a place in the 2007 National Design Triennial at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Freedom, Liberty, and Humanscale’s newest seating solution, the heavily anticipated Diffrient World chair, are all featured in the Cooper-Hewitt’s Design USA: Contemporary Innovation exhibition, on display through April 4, 2010. A celebration of the first 10 years of the prestigious National Design Awards, the exhibition honors Diffrient, recipient of the 2002 National Design Award for Product Design, among other winners in the competition’s history.

In addition to task and office seating, Humanscale’s award-winning product line includes articulating keyboard supports, adjustable monitor arms, task lighting, CPU holders, laptop holders, foot rests and ergonomic mice. Its success in these product categories is the result of a deep-seated commitment to design, evidenced by Humanscale’s longtime partnership with Diffrient—unquestionably one of the world’s most influential designers—and the development of its in-house design team headed by Mark McKenna.

“We believe that the best designs in the world are based on function,” Humanscale Founder and CEO Robert King says. “If a design solves a functional problem as simply and elegantly as possible, it will not only have superior performance, but its aesthetic will be timeless as well.”

That philosophy has driven Humanscale to develop one revolutionary product after another, aimed at exceptional performance, sound ergonomics, and simple, intuitive operation.

Such product innovation has resulted in substantial revenue growth. Humanscale’s worldwide sales in 2008 topped $200 million, up from $33 million just 10 years prior. To support this growth, Humanscale operates a 125,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Piscataway, NJ, along with other facilities in California, Ireland, Hong Kong and Australia. In addition, Humanscale maintains more than a dozen sales offices in the United States and international locations in Toronto, London, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Continuing the company’s history as a leader in innovative design, Humanscale’s newest products—the Diffrient World chair, M2 monitor arm, Element LED task light, and Humanair air purifier—have already earned a number of design awards. The M2 and Element light are currently shipping, and orders are being accepted for the Diffrient World chair, which will begin shipping in early 2010.

Headquartered in New York City with distribution worldwide, Humanscale is the leader in ergonomic design, creating a more comfortable place to work. For more information, contact Customer Service at 800-400-0625 or visit

About Humanscale

Humanscale is the premier designer and manufacturer of ergonomic products that improve the health and comfort of work life. Achieving more with less, Humanscale’s product designs have been honored with more than 150 prestigious awards since 2007 and featured in various museums such as The Museum of Modern Art.

 For more information on Humanscale and our products, visit


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