Designer of the Freedom Chair, the Liberty Chair, and the Diffrient Light, Niels Diffrient is internationally recognized as a premier designer in the field of ergonomics. With a resume that includes collaboration with icons Eero Saarinen and Marco Zanuso, a background in aeronautical engineering, and numerous design awards, Niels Diffrient is undoubtedly one of the most influential designers of the past 50 years.
Born in 1928 in Star, Mississippi, Diffrient attended Wayne State University and eventually enrolled in the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he won the First Medal of Design three times during his tenure there. After traveling and working in Europe thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship, Diffrient began work at the design firm Henry Dreyfuss Associates, where he would stay for 25 years. While there, he co-authored the three-volume publication Humanscale. This work summarized his design principles which were rooted in the belief that the human body should drive design for products that humans will interact with. In his own words: "A design should look good and be appealing, but without compromising human factors. Aesthetics should enhance the technical side, not deter from it."
Awards and Honors:
- 2002 Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum Product Design Award
- 1996 Chrysler Award for Innovation
- 2005 Legend Award from Contract Magazine
- Named the "Granddaddy of the ergonomic revolution by Forbes Magazine in 2007
- Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Member- awarded by the Royal Society of Arts and Industry
- 1996 I.D. Magazine Top 40 Design Innovators