"Humanscale," the iconic design manual, will be reprinted


"Humanscale," the iconic design manual, will be reprinted

Humanscale, the classic design manual, will be reprinted. (Courtesy IA Collaborative)

Long before computers and advanced software were available, designers and architects relied on the Humanscale manuals, a set of three booklets that sought to help designers create ergonomic products using human-centered methodology and measurements. It’s every product designer’s dream—a design Bible if you will.

Graphic standard manuals from the 1970s have been all the rage lately. While manuals such as these have been out of print for decades, their scarcity and high demand lead to extremely high prices on sites like eBay—one collectible Humanscale manual is selling for $1,180 on Amazon.

Now, Chicago-based design consultancy firm IA Collaborative is looking to bring Humanscale back through Kickstarter, for an affordable price.

The reprinted version comes in a set of three booklets and nine selectors—rotatable, circular discs that contain more than 60,000 ergonomic and human-factor data bits concerning attributes like age, height, strength, and ability level. Choosing one data parameter will correspond to other parameters (for example, choosing age 12 will show you the appropriate leg room range).

(Courtesy IA Collaborative)

“All products–from office chairs to medical devices—require designs that ‘fit’ the end user,” IA Collaborative Design Engineering Director Luke Westra said in a press release.
Other human factor datasets like seating standards, wheelchair access guidelines, and other metrics needed for designing human-centric products and spaces are included. As a comprehensive and consolidated analog guide, Humanscale is perhaps most useful as a starting point for designers to approximate size and scale, before moving onto further design stages.

The manuals were originally produced by design firm Henry Dreyfuss Associates, the designers behind iconic products like the Polaroid camera and the tabletop telephone. Its founder, Henry Dreyfuss, is one of the early pioneers of ergonometric design and prioritized data as a measurement for design.

The Kickstarter project is well past its $137,800 goal, and certain “early bird” offers are no longer offered. However, the reprinted versions are still available at $79 per individual booklet or $199 for the entire set.