From “Evolution of Office Spaces Reflects Changing Attitudes towards work”

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You might be wondering why I would be interested in an article explaining the change in ‘office space philopsophy’. Then again, perhaps it is transparently obvious that at this point in time, my interest in change on a global scale makes me interested in any form of change – which is one of the things that had me interested enough to repost this article.

But honestly? It’s the pictures at the top of the article that did it for me.

Evolution of Office Spaces Reflects Changing Attitudes Toward Work

By Cliff Kuang; Published on March 23rd 2009

Since the dawn of the white-collar age, office designs have cycled through competing demands: openness versus privacy, interaction versus autonomy. Here’s a brief history of how seating arrangements have reflected our changing attitudes toward work.

Taylorism (ca. 1904)

American engineer Frederick Taylor was obsessed with efficiency and oversight and is credited as one of the first people to actually design an office space. Taylor crowded workers together in a completely open environment while bosses looked on from private offices, much like on a factory floor.

Bürolandschaft (ca. 1960)

The German “office landscape” brought the socialist values of 1950s Europe to the workplace: Management was no longer cosseted in executive suites. Local arrangements might vary by function—side-by-side workstations for clerks or pinwheel arrangements for designers, to make chatting easier—but the layout stayed undivided.

Action Office (1968)

Bürolandschaft inspired Herman Miller to create a product based on the new European workplace philosophy. Action was the first modular business furniture system, with low dividers and flexible work surfaces. It’s still in production today and widely used. In fact, you probably know Action by its generic, more sinister name: cubicle.

Read the full article and check out the drawings here.

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3 thoughts on “From “Evolution of Office Spaces Reflects Changing Attitudes towards work”

  1. While everything is a reflection of the way humanity has evolved, it is particularly interesting to see how offices and other public places – especially hospitals – evolve and function. I am looking for anything on the subject, so if you find or have anything, please do feel free to share!

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