Happy 40th Birthday, cubicle!
Metropolis‘ Yvonne Abrahams profiles Bob Propst, inventor of the office cubicle. A great example of a neat idea morphing into its opposite.
So, in 1964, Herman Miller’s Action Office system was born. It started with a huge open area, sectioned off to give workers completely enclosed spaces if needed, or semi-enclosed spaces for a more social kind of privacy. Offices were arranged in such a way that workers would be likely to have plenty of contact with each other and with management.
Propst’s forward-thinking motives were misinterpreted by some companies, which simply crammed more workers into smaller spaces and took advantage of the system’s huge potential for savings and tax breaks … “Lots are run by crass people who can take the same kind of equipment and create hellholes. They make little bitty cubicles and stuff people in them. Barren, rat-hole places.”