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Niels Diffrient: 1928 – 2013


Niels Diffrient, renowned industrial designer and Humanscale partner for over 16 years, passed away Saturday morning.

In an official statement, the firm said “Humanscale has been very fortunate to have worked closely with Niels on numerous projects, beginning with the Freedom chair, which debuted in 2000. Since the beginning, Humanscale and Niels shared a passionate belief in the same things—the importance of putting functions first, simplicity and maintaining very high standards. It is wonderfully clear that Niels’ beliefs and values are embodied in his products. As Humanscale shared these values with Niels, his legacy will live on through these products and our shared core beliefs.”

From his early work with the studios of Eero Saarinen, Marco Zanuso, and Henry Dreyfuss to his recent work with Humanscale, Diffrient’s visionary talent has been widely recognized. Included among his many honours are the 2002 National Design Award from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and the 1999 Chrysler Design Award. In recent years, Diffrient has focused his energies on designs for the office environment, particularly seating–a category in which he has pioneered numerous breakthroughs, from pneumatic cylinders for seat height adjustment to weight-activated automatic recline.


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