Modern Furniture, Lighting, and Home Accessories

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Niels Diffrient

Niels Diffrient

6 September 1928 – 8 June 2013

Throughout his life, Diffrient was instrumental in the mid-century modern design movement, working with revered designers whom he considered colleagues and friends including Eero Saarinen, Ettore Sottsass, Charles Eames, Marco Zanuso and Henry Dreyfuss. Diffrient had more than 50 patents and 75 awards, including the 2002 National Design Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the 1996 Chrysler Design Award. Diffrient was also recognized as a Royal Designer for Industry (Hon RDI) by the British Royal Society of Arts in 1987. His vast industrial design portfolio included work with AT & T, Honeywell, John Deere, Knoll and American Airlines.

His partnership with Humanscale began in 1998, with the development of the Freedom chair. Setting a new standard for ergonomic task chairs, Freedom changed the way people sit. Always true to his core values on design, Diffrient said in a New York Times article, “Why would you design something if it didn't improve the human condition?” Diffrient believed that chairs should adjust to the user, not the other way around—and this was evident in all of his designs including the Liberty, Diffrient World and his latest chair, Diffrient Smart. Founder and CEO of Humanscale Robert King said, “Niels believed in the importance of function and knew that great design must be driven by it. This is why his products often transcend any specific time or place.” His industrial design career began with an early interest in architecture and design, which he studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art. He later earned a Fulbright to study design in Milan with Marco Zanusso, with whom he worked to design the award winning Borletti sewing machine. Following his return to the United States, Diffrient worked as an industrial designer with Henry Dreyfuss at his firm, which Diffrient later led until 1980.

10 Item(s)

10 Item(s)