Humanscale: changing the world's foundation


The trend is to work standing up! We now know that the pain of the century (back pain, stiff and tense neck and shoulders, ...) affects more than 80 % of the French. We have never spent so much time sitting, in front of our computers, tablets, TV sets,..., increasing the risk of illness. An international American company has developed a whole range of innovative ergonomic products for office spaces, providing a simple solution to functional problems.

The INRS - Occupational Health and Safety - published a report in 2008 presenting the essential reference points for understanding the influence of standing on activity. There are avenues to be explored to improve work situations where this position is increasingly popular.

Man is not meant to stand still, no matter what his position. As far as possible, the employee should be given the opportunity to modulate his position and to alternate static (immobile) and dynamic (mobile) phases at his own pace.
According to this INRS report, in a work situation, it is difficult to adopt a position that is not very restrictive, in particular because of the pace, the precision of gestures, the organization of the work space, and the muscular efforts to be made with the upper limbs. Therefore, it is recommended to regularly change positions and move around. It is therefore necessary to choose adapted work equipment.

Everybody up!

Office space is changing! Just look at the Google or Facebook offices to see for yourself...
High desk use really started soon after the publication of a study by the American Cancer Society in 2010. The study found that a woman who sits for more than 6 hours a day is 37 % more likely to die prematurely than a woman who sits for less than 3 hours a day.
For men, the finding of this study is the same, since 18 %s are more likely to die if they spend more than 6 hours standing.

This American Cancer Society study is based on data from people who sit at home. But other studies, conducted by French researchers, reach the same conclusions (see theThe Observatory of Sedentariness).
Since then, it has been considered that office work can be done standing if the furniture allows it. This would reduce the risk of premature death due to prolonged work in a seated position.

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The American Medical Association also issued a recommendation in 2013 calling on "employers and employees to find alternatives to sitting, such as high desks and balloon chairs". One startup, Stir, for example, has developed an intelligent desk whose height changes during the day from sitting to standing. A display even shows you how many calories you've burned. Some companies like Google or Microsoft are pushing the envelope even further, with treadmill-mounted desktops!(Source: BFMTV April 2014).

Humanscale, in the service of mankind

Without going that far, there are products that are perfectly adapted today to this call of "all stand up! "Since its creation in 1983, through a global approach of comfort at work through ergonomics, the American company Humanscale has developed a whole range of more comfortable furniture, adapted to the modern needs of companies: armchairs, desks, lamps, footrests,... 

It's under the influence of a designer, Niels Diffrientthat the company has revolutionized the world of design by focusing on the human experience through 15 years of collaboration. Niels Diffrient has put its philosophy of creating the simplest and most elegant solutions to functional problems at the heart of its designs. The result: timeless shapes, but above all simple and user-friendly designs. By reducing the complexity of its designs, Diffrient has been able to make its products more durable by using fewer materials and parts. Diffrient has always taken into account the impact of its products, saying that the most important aspect of sustainable development is efficiency.

Above all, Diffrient has put the user first. He said: "the best way to find out what people need is not to ask them, but to understand them.". For him, ergonomics means "intuitive"; comfort, "well-being"; innovative because it is based on the evolution of technology.

An international design studio

In technology, two solutions are possible: complicate what is simple or simplify what is complicated. Humanscale believes in the second solution: indeed, purpose and function are the reasons for a design that must remain simple and elegant. A philosophy that guides the entire Humanscale research and design studio. 

Founded in 2002 with a single designer, today it is composed of 26 international designers, engineers and prototype designers representing more than ten countries, bringing a global perspective to every new product design.

The Design Studio's most notable innovations include the M2 and M8 screen support arms, the Float and the QuickStand. Products including "Form must flow from function." a concentration of knowledge in engineering, architecture and ergonomics to give rise to creations with highly functional and timeless designs.

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Float, the adjustable desk: To adapt to the demands of a healthier working environment, here is a desk model with variations in height (51 cm variation) and weight (up to 59 kg including worktop). Thanks to a unique counterweight mechanism, this desk allows for easy adjustment: with a single movement, the height can be easily adjusted to facilitate the transition from sitting to standing position. No knobs, no levers,...a simple, perfectly integrated jack allows the worktop to be raised and lowered. The worktop is made mostly of recycled steel and is designed with a minimum number of components for easy and durable assembly.

The Quickstand: This is a real novelty for sit-stand solutions. Using an innovative constant-force spring system, the Quickstand allows effortless and instantaneous adjustment between sitting and standing. You can therefore raise your workstation to work more comfortably by adjusting both the height of the table top and the computer screen.





The "Ballo" seat: An innovative and fun way to sit! This "Ballo" stool is a multifunctional product ideal for a wide range of environments. Designed by Don Chadwick, the Ballo reinvents the exercise of the ball, its design is perfectly adapted to any working environment. It promotes an active position in the short term, encouraging physical activity and thus reducing sedentary behaviour (Height: 62cm - Diameter: 45 cm).

A committed showcase

Europe is supplied from Dublin, with an show-room in Neuilly near Paris. The Dublin factory, run by John Cunningham, has 92 employees and an astonishing paradox: while the brand's collections are full of complex functionalities with pure forms and many discreet innovations, we find a number of tasks carried out by hand. The sewing, the assembly of the various parts of the office chairs, the quality control department: everything is done by hand by men and women who are highly qualified for their job. 

Humanscale is also a member of the UN Global Compact, which brings together companies with common objectives to improve working conditions, protect human rights and prevent corruption. 
Bob King, founder and CEO of the company, is very committed to WWF, having been a member of the WWF National Committee in the USA since 1999. 

During the design and product development process, the design team always takes an environmental approach. Humanscale integrates the fact that its operational choices directly affect the balance of the world around it. Thus the vast majority of products are recycled at around 50 % and recyclable at 95 %. And they are designed and manufactured to last over time, thus avoiding regular investment and renewal.

Next step in the evolution of the design teams: intelligent fabrics. They are currently working with Elysabeth WhelanThe aim of the project is to create a new textile design studio in New York City to think about new textures that are able to capture the different temperatures of the human body, using natural fibres. To be continued.

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