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The Humanscale Liberty Chair

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Humanscale Liberty Chair Independent Overall Rating: 6 of 10      [ how this works ]
6 out of 10 Stars

Price Range: starting at $849.00

The Liberty Chair looks good, comes from a good company, and is comfortable in the seat and back. It cuts an attractive profile and the cost is not prohibitive. The mesh back supports very evenly and has no hard parts that are meant to be supportive but turn out to be intrusive.

The lack of a tilt control is noticeable if you're the kind of sitter who wants to recline only slightly while putting all your weight on the back of the chair- that is- lean back without reclining all the way back. The Liberty Chair is best suited for tasking upright or reclining all the way.

The Liberty Chair is certainly above average. While it has much to recommend it, it also has some serious flaws in the design. It's comfortable but not extremely so, well-designed in some areas but deficient in others, it looks good but it sacrifices adjustment to achieve that look. This is a perfectly acceptable office chair, a cut above most, but it's not going to change the world.



The Liberty Chair, produced by Humanscale, is a comfortable, attractive, not particularly well-designed office chair. The look of the chair is quite graceful. The back, seat and armrests are all connected to two curved rods that travel from underneath the chair up the back, before splitting in two directions to help from the armrests. The back and seat are slight, thin, and in the case of the backing, porous and see-through. The mesh that forms the backing of the seat is split into three parts. This is to help the mesh backing support your back in every support variation. According to Humanscale, a single sheet of mesh, like you see on many of the newer office chairs, doesn't have the appropriate give or flexibility to truly support the back. You need three interdependent meshes, and the Liberty Chair provides that. The seat of the chair is somewhat unusual in it's design. It's made with a thin foam core, wrapped in "technogel," and then upholstered. The gel not only makes the seat fairly comfortable, it allows the seat to fit to the user's form. We found the seat to be certainly comfortable, but not amazingly so. As far as adjustments and features, there really aren't any. The arms of the chair can be raised and lowered, and the height can be adjusted. Other than that, the user is on their own as far as comfort adjustments go. According to Humanscale, the Liberty Chair has been precisely designed in order to negate the need for numerous adjustments. While the lack of adjustment features certainly improves the profile and the aesthetic of the chair, there are certain aspects we felt definitely needed adjustment technology. The back, for instance, recline using a counter-weight system that keeps you comfortable and keeps your work at about the same eye level when you recline as when you sit up. However, this system doesn't allow for people who like to lean back in their chairs at all times, or slouch; those users will find themselves constantly tipping backwards in their Liberty Chairs, as there's no adjustment to stop recline or even to stiffen it. Overall, this a successful chair, but with a few areas of real deficiency.
The lack of material in the chair is a really interesting feature. It's thin all over, but very sturdy and supportive. The back is mesh, the seat is thin layers of technogel.
The Liberty Chair is a great starter-type chair. It's a cut above average, but not quite in the big leagues when it comes to super-comfy, super-supportive, super-ergonomic chairs.



The Liberty Chair is above average in terms of comfort. The technogel wrapped seat is quite comfortable, and the tri-panel mesh backing is supportive, comfortable, and has plenty of give. The armrests are at a good height, and we never felt the need to get up from the desk to stretch our legs or get our blood flowing again. After sitting in the chair for several days, there are no signs of wear or tear, or even discomfort, in our legs and backs. The backing of the chair presents a comfort problem, as the constant tensions it requires to keep from falling backwards can be a strain in some sitting positions (slouching, which research shows most office workers do). Ergonomically, the recline feature does do a good job of keeping you oriented toward your work when you recline, and the separation of the seat and back is useful in keeping the recline feature of pulling or stretching clothes and skin. While the chair isn't extravagantly comfortable, it's definitely a few cuts above average.
DESIGN: 5 of 10
This is a tricky section for a chair like this, because the rating really depends not on the design, but on how the user perceives the design to have failed or succeeded. For instance, the engineering that went into producing the counter-balance recline feature in the Liberty Chair is impressive and works as it is advertised to work. However, as mentioned before, the feature also causes the chair to unavoidably (and unstoppably, as there is no adjustment) fall backwards whenever you put pressure on it. While the mesh in the back is supportive, when you're always reclining farther than you want to, that's cold comfort. So, while the design works in many ways, (it looks good, it's impressive that so much can be done with only two adjustments, the recline system works as advertised) it also has a major flaw, which is that there are so few adjustments that for many users the chair won't ever be ideal. It's an above average chair in many ways, but this big flaw keeps it's rating average.
STYLE: 7 of 10
This is a good-looking chair. We liked the symmetrical and elegant curved poles that create the support system, the seat and the back are thin and clean-lined (yet still comfortable), and the profile of the chair is very attractive, and unmarred by lots of adjustment knobs and levers (but of course, as mentioned earlier, this is a double edged sword). There are a variety of colors you can choose for this chair, and overall it's well above average in it's simplicity, elegance, and line.
Humanscale has built an excellent reputation as a leader in ergonomic seating over the two and a half decades they've been operating. The Liberty Chair is just one of their ergonomically-centered products; they also make the Freedom Chair and the Freedom Arm, pieces that have elevated the status of ergonomics in the office design community.
Humanscale believes in less-is-more design, and that comes through in their products, which are slight but sturdy. Less material means less waste, and a reliance on recycled and recyclable aluminum goes a long way toward lessening the corporate and human footprint.
The ergonomic features of the chair, the recline feature that doesn't take you away from your work, the lessened reliance on adjustment, all contribute to performance. However, there is no specific feature designed to increase this rating, nor any feature that demonstrably can increase productivity or work quality.
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