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The office evolution throughout history

A journey into corporate interior design, part 3.

A couple of weeks ago we began a journey through time to discover how changes in office design have taken place, studying how they looked in the past and how they have been transformed into what we see today.

The reasons that have motivated the evolution of offices have also being influenced by the change in social mentality and work philosophies, the prevailing needs, and technologies, the transformations of the concept of efficiency, and the predominant cultural trends of each generation.



Today we talk about one of the most popular but least beneficial office designs of all time:

From 1970 to 1990: The rise of office cubicles.

Although the cubicles were successful in their functionality, the truth is that they were far from having style or personality, so much so that they were called “cube farms”. Today, pop culture has left the cubicle's reputation in the dust, being remembered as a suffocating gray box where no one wants (or should) to be.



Despite this current vision, the cubicle began as a well-intentioned idea. Seen as a logical adaptation to the need to give employees privacy in open-plan offices that existed in the past. With the popularization of office computers in the 1980s and 1990s, cubicles were the most efficient solution to offer users semi-enclosed spaces to better concentrate.

In addition to fulfilling their function, cubicles were an economical en flexible option, these were the two reasons that led them to be so well received and last for a long time. However, without a doubt, its design was the least ergonomic in the history of workspace design. To this day, cubicles are used primarily for break areas or for employees who need a place of absolute concentration, but they are not mandatory working area, and they are not gray as in the past.



The disadvantages of this office design lay mainly in the mood and mental health of the user. That is why it continues to have a terrible reputation in the popular imagination, the cubicle did not promote communication, it censored it; it simulated a small cage, which canceled the sense of freedom; a space full of cubicles was synonymous with a slow and boring workday, which caused a drop in motivation, creativity, and productivity.

With this design we have almost reached the current times; in the last part we will review the 2000s offices when the Internet came to stay and to change reality, as we knew it.