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Are you sitting comfortably? With Humanscale’s Diffrient world office chair, that answer will be ‘yes’

Minimalistic and supportive, we put the productivity-boosting pew to the test

Jon Axworthy
Monday 06 September 2021 17:40
<p>Forget fiddly adjustments, as it automatically adapts to each user, providing constant support for your lower back  </p>

Forget fiddly adjustments, as it automatically adapts to each user, providing constant support for your lower back

Whether you’re currently working from home or just sitting down for a couple of hours of domestic admin, having a proper ergonomic perch can make all the difference.

Sitting for long periods of time is notoriously bad for our health and our bodies. So, having a chair that is designed to minimise those negative impacts makes perfect sense.

With the emphasis still on remote working for many businesses this autumn, a proper office chair is a welcome addition to your designated workspace. As such, you won’t want it to remind you of a cubicle task chair in an office, instead you’ll want it to have some design credentials.

Humanscale approached designer Niels Diffrient, regarded by his peers as the godfather of ergonomics, to create a chair that was both minimal and highly functional. And we spent plenty of time in the hot seat to see if both designer and brand succeeded in this venture.

How we tested

We used the chair for a month to see how suited it was for remote working, as well as how it could be used as an occasional task chair for general home admin. We looked at how easily the chair’s design would sync with a home environment, rather than an office one, how comfortable it was to sit in and how easily it could be adapted for different users.

Read more:

Ultimately, we were interested in the ergonomics of the world chair and whether it supported the body and promoted good posture when we used it for prolonged periods. Here’s what we thought...

Humanscale Diffrient world chair

Buy now £499.20, Humanscale.com

Rating: 9/10

First impressions

Humanscale is on a mission to simplify the products that you interact with while you’re working. This design ethos is clear to see in the world chair as its minimalist appearance and simple lines look fantastic while remaining unobtrusive, so that it won’t take over the room that you have it in.

On the Humanscale website you’ll find a mind-boggling array of mesh styles and colour combinations that will suit a whole range of interior decors. There are three frame colour options (black, grey and white) and the seat can either be made with a textile overlay to the mesh or can be constructed so that the mesh can clearly be seen on the backrest and the seat. This was the option that we thought looked the best and made the chair even easier to blend in with a whole host of different surroundings.

How it works

The brand’s dedication to simplification is also to be seen in the chair’s operation, as it has just eight major parts and three manual settings for height and depth.

Everything else adapts automatically depending on how you sit and move in the chair, from its weight sensitive reclining mechanism to the flexible but strong non-stretch mesh. Diffrient collaborated with textile designer Elizabeth Whelan on the mesh to provide a backrest that would mould to the shape of the user’s spine and provide constant, moveable lumbar support.

Read more: 7 best computer monitors for entertainment, gaming and working from home

This means that the chair doesn’t have to be manually adjusted every time someone different sits in it. Instead, it automatically adapts to the physicality of whoever is using it, which means it can work equally well in a home with multiple family members as it would in an office environment.

How it feels

The first thing you’ll notice when you sit in this chair is the non-stretch mesh that both the seat and the backrest are made from. It offers ultimate comfort and excellent air circulation while at the same time feeling totally supportive. It provided instant lumbar support without the need for lots of manual adjustments.

We also loved the fact that we didn’t have to constantly fiddle around with knobs and levers every time we wanted to sit back – instead, this was all controlled by the weight-sensitive, counterbalanced recline which automatically adapted to the position our body wanted to be in and provided solid ergonomic support.

We also found that this unique counterbalance mechanism allowed us to maintain a constant eye-level with any screen or monitor that we were working on.

Read more: 8 best standing desks that can make working from home a breeze

Cleverly, the armrests connect to the backrest rather than the seat so they stay with the body as you recline. The seat itself is also totally frameless so there’s no extra pressure being put on the backs of the legs when you have to sit for a while.

The mesh also cuts down the weight of the chair, and at only 14kg the chair is light and moves around freely on the standard casters that roll well on both hard floors or carpet.

The only manual adjustments are to be found at the seat pan, which can slide forwards or backwards, so that you can allow for the recommended 2-4ins of clearance between the front of the seat and the back of your knees. And while you can manually adjust the height of the seat itself and the armrests be warned, the world doesn’t swivel, so if this particular kind of movement is important for your work it could have some bearing on your purchasing decision.

The verdict: Humanscale Diffrient world chair

Reinventing the way we sit is a pretty tall order, but the Humanscale Diffrient world chair has produced a seat that’s brimming with effortless ergonomic comfort all contained in a sleek design that adds a touch of modernity to a workspace.

It really felt like the chair was protecting us from some of the more insidious side effects of sitting down, and the generous 15-year warranty means that Humanscale really believes in the product that it has come up with.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on chairs and other furniture offers, try the links below:

For more supportive seating, check out our best ergonomic office chairs that make working from home more comfortable

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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