Nikil Saval on the creation of the cubicle:

And it was too late to fix the problem. He had trapped people in giant fabric-wrapped walls, when he had meant, like Propst, to free them.

It turned out that companies had no interest in creating autonomous environments for their “human performers.” Instead, they wanted to stuff as many people in as small a space for as cheaply as possible as quickly as possible.

We have cubicles in our office and they are terrible, but I think “open plans” are probably just as bad (but prettier). The plan for the original “action office”, complete with standing workstations, sounds truly great. We should bring those back.

There were many idiosyncratic touches. Because Propst had convinced himself that work out of sight was work out of mind, there were no large desk drawers. Instead, there was a movable display surface, from which items could be retrieved and replaced at ease. A standing rolltop desk not only kept workers on their feet but also allowed them to leave work out overnight, securely closed.

Modern update would be needed, but sounds really neat. I might try to devise a way to have my “office” space defined like this.


Posted by Ben Brooks