Monday, June 12, 2006


The Latest In Cubicle Design

The open office floor plan originated forty years ago to accommodate quickly expanding businesses that lacked the wherewithal to build offices for every schnook they hired. This innovation spread far and wide as corporations flattened out their hierarchies by stripping away layer upon layer of middle management and flung everyone into the same broad carpeted field. A big open space to hold us all, guarded by the occasional corner office. This was, I believe, approximately the same layout that Andersonville Prison had during the Civil War. Be that as it may, corporate employees were rarely left completely unshielded from the elements. Those cloth-bound pens we call "cubicles" evolved. Small enclosures do not fit the American psyche very well, but most of us had little choice in the matter. Even as middle class homes ballooned into $500,000 starter castles and everyone began driving Ford Excretions, our cubbyholes only got smaller and smaller. Outgoing young people nowadays would prefer to dispense with cubicles altogether, and bask beneath the fluorescent corporate sun in vast open spaces. Privacy still matters to many however, so cubicle designers are engineering a compromise. The newest new things in Corporate Cageware are translucent or transparent enclosures with curvilinear walls and sliding doors that seal off the occupant from ambient noise, but which allow both the occupant and his or her bosses to look in and look out. Sort of like the Cone of Silence in Get Smart perhaps, or the plexiglas noses of World War Two bombers. In the future we will be able to actually see the Downsizers coming at us from twelve o'clock high.

"Office thinking outside the box" from the Chicago Tribune

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