7.23.2008

The Cubicle Turns 40

The bane of modern existence, the office cubicle turns 40 this month. According to Wikipedia, "A cubicle's purpose is to isolate office workers from the sights and noises of an open workspace, the theory being that this allows workers more privacy and helps them to concentrate without distractions." Of course we know, generally, the opposite is true.

When I worked for a museum in Indianapolis, I had a great little office on the third floor. I was eager, young and motivated. When I switched gears and careers to graphic design, I worked in a cubicle for a quite a while, first for Valvoline Oil and then, nearly four years at Kroger Central Marketing in Indianapolis, which was made of cube farms (and the withered husks that once contained human souls). All those five-foot walls seem to provide was an excuse to goof around. My last year there, I did get a great window view overlooking the Retention Pond and the Gaggle O' Geese inhabiting it. Today I vie my time between home and a basement in a converted manufacturing warehouse, downtown. It's not bad, there are no cubicles!

According to the article in the Kansas City Star, the cubicle debuted in 1968, as part of a concept called The Action Office. The late Robert Propst at Herman Miller, a marketing company in Michigan, came up with the concept.

Joe Schwartz, now 82, was a marketing director at Herman Miller at the time. “The death of the cubicle has been forecasted for the past 40 years, but apparently it provides benefits rather than causes problems,” Schwartz said. But at least one serious rival is out there, the anti-office office. With transportation costs soaring, the cubicle-free option of working from home or working from Starbucks grows more attractive.

The time for mankind to rise up and break free of its 6-foot-by-6-foot prison is coming. So grab your cordless drills, get rid of your "case of the Monday's" and help celebrate the cubicle's birthday, while you still can.

 

 

A 9 min. un-edited clip from Office Space. So MNBAFW.

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