In Review: Humanscale’s Path Task Chair

Humanscale’s Path chair is a game-changer. Over 5 years of innovation have gone into creating it, making its title of the World’s Most Sustainable Task Chair well-deserved. When we invited Michelle Eid from SAY Studio and Roar’s Niya Nikolova to be a judge of the chair’s eco-conscious perspective and its distinct proposition of inclusivity, here’s what we found…

If Humanscale’s appeal with the Path chair could be a slogan, it would be, “It’s time to give back to the planet, it’s time to be Planet Positive.” The brand is known amongst industry peers for being the first to include Declare Labels, and being transparent about the make-up of products. With Path the intention is to raise the stakes. The Path Chair uses nearly 10 kilograms of recycled waste , and is free of Red List Chemicals. But it also puts the spotlight back on task chairs. How?

Path is not designed to fit a highly inaccurate ‘average’ body like most chairs. It is meticulously crafted to adapt to up to 95% of unique body types without the use of unwieldy controls. It is body inclusive and intuitive, simultaneously powering through with exceptional sustainability.

Frazer Butcher, Regional Director – Middle East & North Africa, Humanscale, explains how this next-gen chair works, “Every one of our products solves a problem. You don’t need to do anything. Everything’s built in. There’s our unique gravity mechanism underneath. It’s based on your body weight. So for a user, all you have to do is lean back, but you can stop anywhere in the tilt. That’s what we do. We solve the problem.”

It’s all glittering up until now, but is Path really the Gold Standard of Task Chairs? Let’s find out..

The Review Crew

From left to right: Michelle Eid, Senior Interior Designer, SAY Studio; Niya Nikolova, Interior Designer, Roar

A For Aesthetics

Path, made with the amalgamation of creativity and innovation, looks good and does good too. It is unlike any other desk chair you’ve seen, so it is bound to be a conversation starter. It has multiple applications – at home, at the office or anywhere else.  It comes in numerous and timeless colours that make it blend into any design theme effortlessly. 

Frazer metaphorically adds, “We’re not Apple; we can liken it to an Apple product. The interface is straightforward, but the mechanism and the technology behind it – it takes a lot of work to create something as simple as this.”

Niya: “I was quite surprised by the aesthetic of it. It’s a cute chair. It has an element of simplicity to it, but it’s quite elegant as well. So first impression, I thought it would go really great in many different interiors. A home office, of course, would be a great space for that. And the chair is not unaffordable in any way.”

Michelle: “I think it’s different from what we usually see, especially if you look at the back having two layers. It’s not typical for a desk chair in a workplace. It’s an interesting mix, aesthetic and functional.”

A Chair That’s Got Your Everyone’s Back

Todd Bracher, Creative Director at Humanscale brought Path to the finish line, but late industrial designer Niels Diffrient’s contribution cannot be forgotten. Niels decided to get rid of the mesh commonly seen in chairs to take the lumbar support to 2.0. Each Path chair comes with a patented Gravity Mechanism™ that is the fountainhead of it all. It engages with your body, making it a natural counterbalance for the chair. The virtual pivot points created consequently give the chair an edge over the others as it moves in sync with you.

“Humanscale has always believed in making things simple to use, and so we’ve done things like eliminating the complex mechanism that’s virtually under every chair and replacing it with one thing – the weight of whoever happens to be sitting in the chair at any given moment, plus the laws of physics,” Bob King, the Founder & CEO of Humanscale believes.

This makes the chair inclusive with the perfect recline and the right tension, wherein lies its power. The back recline is automated, with its adjustable Duron arms smartly attached to the back instead of the seat. It has no excess and redundant parts, with the complexity being in its impressive engineering and not in its use. Frazer remarks, “It’s Path for everyone, Path for everywhere.”

Niya: “I am very much into the back of the chair. It’s so put together. It has universal lumbar support, which supports any kind of the body, minus the difficulty of adjusting it, which is great. There’s so much pressure on our bodies when we sit and do our work every day. But this chair feels pretty sturdy.”

Michelle: “I think it’s how flexible it is. When I sat on the chair, I just noticed it had what other chairs usually don’t react to or don’t achieve as a format. When you go backwards, it doesn’t throw you back to the front. These kinds of small details help while working long hours.”

It’s The Right ‘Path’ For a Better Tomorrow

Humanscale believes that one of the most overlooked aspects of sustainability is longevity. But fast forward a decade later, and this certified climate-positive chair would look as good. Dubbed ‘The World’s Most Sustainable Task Chair’, its structural components are made from plastic bottles (68 in each chair) collected from the oceans and fishing nets (2.8 kg worth in each chair).  The plastic bottles are transformed into recycled yarn, which is then used to craft a mesh-like textile called FormSense Eco KnitTM, Humanscale’s 3D knit. The other components, like the arm, are made using a mix of post-consumer and industrial aluminium and steel. And they don’t use any glue!

Seeing the world through his green-tinted glasses, Frazer comments, “For me, it’s inspiring to work for a company that genuinely considers what they’re doing. Because a lot of companies will say that they’re doing less harm, but if you dig, a lot of it is brainwashing. Our products are net positive.”

The exhaustively-tested chair has a BIFMA Level 3® Certification and is known for its material transparency. When you use it, you know exactly what it is made of, without asterisks. What’s even better? 97% of its content is recyclable. Humanscale gives their clients a transparent calculation of how their chair is not only protecting against damage to the environment but actually cleaning it. They want to make people think and drive change.

Michelle: “Humanscale is creating a good impact on the environment, not only reducing the bad impact that industries usually have. That was something that made me think differently than I usually do.”

Niya: “Sourcing materials that already exist in the environment rather than going forward with a raw material that needs processing; it makes a difference. Also, Humanscale having an in-house material toxicologist for research is very interesting. It’s important to know what kind of compounds you interact with, the products you choose, and that they’re not harmful to your health. Eventually, if you are the end user and you’re kind of facilitating this kind of usage of products, it would work towards finding a better tomorrow.”

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