i’ve been working in the fab flat home office for over a year now, and while it’s a space that has been changed up a fair few times, the most crucial update happened a few months ago: the addition of my new ergonomic liberty task chair and a horizon table lamp, from humanscale.
you may remember that i previously had a large bulky ergonomic chair in black, which stuck out like a sore thumb in my flat, disrupting the cool cali vibes i’ve been striving to create in the space. so when humanscale got in touch to introduce me to their range, and told me i could customise every element of the chair to suit not only my ergonomic but my aesthetic needs, i was sold!
humanscale is a premium designer and manufacturer of ergonomic products that improve health and comfort at work, offering award-winning office solutions that include self adjusting seating, sit/stand desks, monitor arms and task lighting, all designed to inspire movement and support the user in their every posture.
the brand’s design studio abides by the philosophy that good design achieves more with less, placing sustainability of both design and materials at the heart of everything they do, solving functional problems as simply and elegantly as possible while consuming less of the earth’s limited resources.
the liberty task chair, designed by niels diffrient, is an intelligent mesh task chair engineered to provide automatic lumbar support for every user, as well offering simplicity and complete ease of use. i was immediately drawn to the sleek minimal aesthetic and then sold on it’s advanced ergonomic features: an automatic, weight-sensitive recline, arm rests that are attached to the back of the chair for constant support and an innovative tri-panel mesh backrest that helps to streamline the chair’s silhouette.
the liberty task chair is available to buy in the uk from amara, in a number of contemporary neutral hues, but since i was working directly with humanscale i was able to customise my own liberty task entirely. i opted for a polished aluminium with silver trim frame, pinstripe white mesh for the backrest and seat upholstered in a soft tan hue (columbia sand). it was a total delight the moment the chair was unboxed and placed in my office – it fit in perfectly and felt like it had always been a part of the space!
of course, having a high quality ergonomic chair in your home office space can be a huge investment, but it is one that in my opinion is hugely worth it to your overall wellbeing and impact it can have on your body over time. as someone who is frequently working out and about on a laptop, perched up at a coffee shop counter, working on a flip-down train table, or squeezed around a communal table in a co-working space, i find that when i’m working from home in my own, calm and ordered, workspace, i am infinitely more productive and crucially, more comfortable, for longer periods at a time. i’ve still got a way to go to make sure my home space is as ergonomic as possible (i’m yet to invest in a stand for a laptop, nor an external keyboard and mouse), but i definitely am feeling the benefits on my new liberty task a few months in.
so i thought it would be good to interview sukhneet assee, associate ergonomist uk & ireland for humanscale consulting, and find out just why having an ergonomic task chair for your home office is so important and what key features you should be looking out for if you are thinking of investing in one yourself:
just how important is a good quality ergonomic office chair to your general wellbeing?
very important. when people purchase poor quality furniture, the longevity of it is compromised. when you define ‘good quality’, it’s almost an umbrella term for making integrated ergonomics, durable materials, sharp aesthetics and comfort. often, good quality task chairs come at a cost, due to the materials and integrated ergonomic qualities that are designed into it. a chair with multiple components doesn’t always mean that it will provide better comfort. typically these are the chairs that don’t get used to their potential, as people do not know how to use them properly. a chair with an automatic dynamic backrest, encourages people to sit in a neutral position, without keeping static and in one position. a good quality chair will integrate ergonomics into the chair, so that you are provided with the optimal contact and movement throughout your day.
what features should you be looking for when shopping for a home office chair?
unfortunately, the term ergonomics is not governed, so it is easy for manufacturers to put an ergonomic stamp on their products. though this may make is difficult and confusing when shopping for a good task chair, it’s always good to do a bit of research into the company and the quality of product. it is recommended to trial the chair, not for a 5 minute sit, but in your working environment and for at least a few days. there are 4 main adjustments that should be considered when purchasing a task chair, these are: seat height, seat depth, recline tension (look for one that is counterbalanced) and armrest height. another feature to be considered is backrest adjustment, which can be considered if the chair doesn’t already have an integrated lumbar support.
how should your seating position differ when working on a laptop at a desk vs. a desktop monitor?
when working with a laptop, you are either compromising your upper body (neck and head) positioning or your lower body (arms and hand), as the screen is attached to the keyboard. for the reason, a good tip for laptop work, is to get yourself a laptop riser and a separate (preferably wireless) keyboard and mouse. it is essential to keep your desktop screen for example in the correct position for your seated posture. your eye line should meet the top two thirds of the screen.
how long should you spend sitting at your desk at a time, and how often do you recommend taking breaks from sitting?
as an ergonomist, i always recommend movement. taking short, frequent micro breaks, anywhere between 30-60 seconds, every 3 or 4 times an hour, reduces static postures and keeps the blood and oxygen pumping around our body effectively.
it really is crucial to keep in mind the need for frequent breaks in your working routine, isn’t it? we often forget that humans aren’t really designed to spend eight hours in a small artificially-lit space sat at a desk typing, so it’s no wonder that long days spent chained to your computer really do take their toll (especially in winter months).
i’d mentioned that along with my liberty task chair, humanscale also kindly gifted me a horizon table lamp, designed by mike mccoy & peter stathis in 2009, which was awarded the prestigious red dot award, as well as being a member of the permanent collection of the moma. this iconic lighting piece is available in eight striking colours, although i opted for the clean minimal white version to complement my home office decor. i realise that i didn’t take any photos of the lamp switched on when i shot my office (given it was such a gloriously sunny day!), but when it’s on the horizon produces an ultra-wide even plane of 3000k (warm white) illumination that casts just one shadow, powered by thin film led technology and providing ample amounts of bright light that helps reduce eye strain. there are precision brass spherical joints at both the base and the lamp-head, allowing you to quickly and smoothly adjust the direction of the light, and it’s dimming function can be activated with a light touch of the button on the base.
i’ve not yet had need to use the lamp that much, given how close to the window my desk is and the glorious weather we’ve been having of late, but i’m sure it will be an absolute godsend as soon as normal manchester service resumes – i shall report back then!
my bespoke liberty task chair and horizon table light were kindly gifted by humanscale in return for this review post, but all opinions and photography my own.