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Workplace Trends:

From the Secretary to the Blackberry Lee | Winn | Herrera cover image: Judge, Mike. Office Space



1980 - 1990’s


1960 - 1970’s


1930 - 1950’s





Our work often defines who we are, our workplaces can determine the rise and fall of cities, and our work affects the very way we live. The workplace is a contested ground; the strictly regimented rows of desks resembling assembly lines of the early 1900s have since morphed into the anywhere-office of wireless telecommuting. The workplace simultaneously reflects the social paradigms of the day, all while producing our very future. This research explores the sociocultural, technological, material, and engineering influences on the way we work.

Christie Lee | Amanda Winn | Manuel Herrera

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The early 20th Century was defined by the proliferation of the machine and reconciling how these new technologies could best be implemented. In 1851, The Great Exhibition of Works and Industry of All Nations was held in The Crystal Palace, a temporary steel and glass structure in London’s Hyde Park. The exhibition exemplified the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and featured achines, machined goods and new technologies, with many of the machined products ironically of the ornate style popular at that time. Artists questioned their role as the exhibition brought up the question of craft in the era of machined goods.

The Great Exhibition of Works and Industry “The Crystal Palace” Great Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, 1851: Illustrated Catalogue (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1851, p. xvii)


Directly influencing the development of the Ford assembly lines, the engineer Fredrick Taylor (18561915), who held the viewpoint that most workers were “inherently lazy,” developed time-and-motion studies on factory floors and office environments. He developed what’s called “superior methods and machines.” Using prolonged exposure photography, Taylor analyzed the every movement of the worker in order to identify and eliminate unnecessary movements. The need for constant surveillance, repetitive and simplified tasks and strict management control were integral parts of this new ‘model’ of working. (Becker, 1) By 1911, “efficiency fever” peaked in the United States and Taylor’s ideas were also held up in US business schools like Harvard and Walton as well as in China and USSR. (Gower, 22)

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Fredrick Taylor is considered to have been more a more powerful and durable influence on the look and style of a workplace, even more so than the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus operated from 1919 to 1933, and dealt with developing architecture and consumer styles consistent with mass production: functional and cheap methods. Walter Gropius, the founder of The Bauhaus school wanted to “reunite art and craft to arrive at high-end functional products with artistic pretensions.” Gropius argued that a new period of history had begun after the war and wanted to create a new architectural style that reflected his era. (William, 309)

The Birth of Taylorism “Hello Girls”, 1881. Source Unknown.


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Designed in 1874 by W.S. Wooton, The Secretary was one of the first pieces of office furniture. It was so named as it was used to house confidential papers and could be locked. The two sides folded in and could latch, protecting the papers organized in the many compartments and pigeon holes. The Secretary was made from wood with ornate design detailing. It became widely popular even with Presidents and corporate moguls (Knobel, 11). Desks were seen as status symbols, where both the size and detailing of the desk displayed hierarchy in the office. With larger, more ornate desks belonging to executives.

The Birth of the Office Desk Knobel, Lance, Office Furniture Twentieth-Century Design, E.P. Dutton, New York: 1987.


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Over a period of the next forty years, office desk designs streamlined. The Secretary was downsized to the Rolltop where similar holes and compartments were contained behind a retractable top. This lead to the Modern Efficiency Desk, the first flat top desk. Designed in 1915 for the Equitable Assurance Company, “Little more than a table with shallow drawers, this new desk banished the privacy previously afforded by rolltop desks and the cabinate like Wooton desk”(On the Job, p22). As Taylorism and the emphasis on efficiency dictated the workplace, this desk paralleled these thoughts with its manufacturing process. It was mass produced and introduced standardization capabilities to office furniture design.

Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987


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Two furniture companies pioneered the design of office furniture throughout the 20th century, both were founded in West Michigan. They were at the forefront of innovation- from the desk to the workstation. The first of the two, Steelcase opened in 1912, and was originally known as the Metal Office Furniture Company(Steelcase 8). The need for steel office furniture was a product of advances in architecture. As a result of steel and brick skyscraper construction, there was a demand for safer and more fire resistant furniture. Metal products were needed because firefighters could not reach as high as the tallest building floors. Non-flammable furniture, and paper stored in metal cabinets reduced the risk of a fire. For this reason, in 1916 Steelcase designed it’s first desk. With welded corners and crimped metal, the desk was named the 601(Steelcase 10). More steel desk designs followed, with different options on the numbers of drawers and drawer sizes. Steelcase advertised the steel desk’s durability as a selling point.

Michigan: The Birthplace of Office Furniture Design Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987


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Herman Miller was founded about 10 years later. In 1923 DJ De Pree purchased a west Michigan furniture company and named it Herman Miller. De Pree was interested in office efficiency. Hired by Herman Miller, Gilbert Rhode, a designer from New York, brought ideas of uncluttered office furniture (Berry 24). As a result, new manufacturing techniques had to be learned. Traditional hand-made wooden furniture was replaced with simple, mass produced desks made by an assembly line of workers.

Berry, John R., Herman Miller The Purpose of Design, Universe Publishing, New York: 2004


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Taylorism and the proliferation of the assembly line shifted the role of craftsman maker into a cog in the mass production machine, where worker productivity was favored over worker conditions. Executives took favored spaces along the periphery of the building by the windows, while the center of the plan was filled with lower ranks. The common layout was a “pool layout” where rows of workers performed repetitive tasks that were overseen by a supervisor. This organization applied to whitecollared office work just as readily as factory work. The Larkin Building, designed in 1903 by Frank Lloyd Wright, embodied these ideals while also pushing forth innovative ideas, such as air conditioning, radiant heat, and steel furniture (Quinan 62-67).

The Larkin Building Quinan, Jack, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building: Myth and Fact, The MIT Press, Cambridge: 198, pg. 48-49


Larger executive offices were located in the corners of the main floor overlooking the main light court. Wright designed all aspects of the building, including specialized office furniture, including the advent of the steel desk, and wooden desks with attached adjustable chairs that could swing out and under the desk, As the company processed up to 60,000 letters a day, considerations like filing cabinets were built into the wall thicknesses.

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The Larkin Company, a mail order soap company, held progressive views in the treatment of its employees. The Larkin Company held picnics, weekly concerts, educational incentives, and profitsharing schemes (Quinan, 43). Quinan, 43 Wright designed the building with worker comfort in mind, with the plan centering on a large central light court that went through all six floors of the building.

Quinan, Jack, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building: Myth and Fact, The MIT Press, Cambridge: 1987, pg. 37


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The Bauhaus style was brought to America and the United Kingdom in the 1930’s, as many of its leaders fleeing Germany sought refuge in America as the modern style itself was considered heretical. In post World War II Northern European countries, the social democratic nature of the region influenced a new way of looking at office design and layout. In the United States, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill) created new opportunities for returning veterans in educational and business opportunities. As a result, suburbia and the home owning middle class expanded as returning veterans of the war were compensated with different types of loans to assist with their education, buying homes and starting businesses. Many existing technologies that were used for wartime production were shifted towards the production of other goods. Women were also increasingly involved with war and post-war efforts as they replaced many of the men in factories and manufacturing plants.

The Bauhaus

Bauhaus Dessau, eigenes Foto von 2003, public domain. Mewes 14:07, 24. Apr 2005


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The famous We Can Do It poster of the era by Howard Miller and others encouraged women to work in factories and participate in other war efforts. Although, most women (about 90% of them) who were housewives, still remained at home for the duration of the war, others left low paying occupations for better paying positions in defense work. Rosie’s Proud of her Band of Sisters, Kevin Cullen, Seattle Times, May 30, 2004 (Cullen, 1)

Women in the Workforce We Can Do It Poster, Howard Miller, 1942


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Two office furniture designs in the 30’s and 40’s changed the workers space from a single flat top desk to the beginning of a personal environment. The first was partition storage units designed by George Nelson, for Herman Miller. Originally advertised for the home, they acted as partitions between rooms. This invention allowed for the open office plan with seperations between working areas for privacy (Berry 60). The second was a streamlined L-shaped desk. Designed by George Nelson in 1946, it was the first example of a workstation. Made from metal and wood, “it combined a writing surface, storage elements(including one for a typewriter), files and built in lighting” (Knobel 48). It was the first desk to break free from conventional desk of the flat top, and 2 leg desk with cabinets. During this era office furniture continued to take on the idea of modularity. The pieces started to be thought of as a system of components which necessitated new material uses and manufacturing techniques.

Evolution of the Individual Desk Berry, John R., Herman Miller The Purpose of Design, Universe Publishing, New York: 2004


About 10 years later, Herman Miller hired Charles and Ray Eames. One of their first designs was the plywood chair (Berry 83). They experimented with forming plywood in a complex three dimensional shape. The first piece of furniture, which accomplished this feet, the plywood chair pioneered the use of plywood in furniture design. It set precedents for further exploration including plywood chairs, manufactured in 1955 by Fritz Hansen, in which the seat and back were molded in a single piece (Knobel 55).

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The 30’s and 40’s also marked an exploration into new ways of forming common materials. Up until this point office furniture was mostly rectilinear in form, and made from either wood or sheet metal. In 1927, Marcel Breuer used steel but in tube form, designing the first chair and desk with tube steel support (Knobel 33). Many designers continued to experiment with tube steel, including Frank Llyod Wright for the S.C. Johnson Administration Building.

Pushing Material Forms Knobel, Lance, Office Furniture Twentieth-Century Design, E.P. Dutton, New York: 1987 Berry, John R., Herman Miller The Purpose of Design, Universe Publishing, New York: 2004


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World War II affected the material use and manufacturing techniques of office furniture. Many plants which produced furniture were used to make alternate products during the war. Companies were forced to cut down on the use of steel as the government put the material restricted its use for the war effort. Wooden office furniture sales grew because other material were limited.

Post World II

Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987


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Steelcase began making shipboard furniture for the U.S. Navy and government officials. Designed were needed that could be altered to fit specific needs. Their solution was standardization with the design of the “Multiple 15”, a modular collection with interchangeable sizes (Steelcase 22). The first modular planning in the companies history, it was strong, stable and durable. Steelcase had to alter its manufacturing facilities for the new products, but they were confident in the success of the design. The desk was mass produced in large orders for companies and government agencies continuing long after the war. “It became an industry standard as competitors followed suit and adopted the new revolutionary design concept”(Steelcase 22). The C-Chair was designed along with the desk. With its cushions, ability to swivel and lean back it introduced comfort into seating. In 1955 Steelcase added color to the metal desk design, the use of color in office furniture (Steelcase 24).

Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987


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SC Johnson & Son was a progressive company that hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design their new administration and research buildings in Racine, WI. Wright designed everything from the building structural system to the furniture. In 1936 Frank Llyod Wright and Steelcase collaborated to design and manufacture a desk for the S.C. Johnson Administration Building. They used tube steel, combined with wood desktops for familiarity. Steel was also used to make the curved shape of the filing drawers which pivot outward. The furniture used common materials in innovative forms. The Johnson Wax company was progressive in its approach to the workplace in general and early on implemented innovations such as assembly lines to reduce the working hours of the laborer and implemented one of the first annual profit sharing schemes in the U.S. Wright wanted to implement other progressive ideas, influenced by his view of a utopian community, such as his envisioned Broadacre City. Wright wanted to move the Johnson building fivemiles out from the current location in the city and turn it into a ‘company town’ where workers lived on self sufficient 1-acre lots surrounding the building in which they worked, integrating man with nature (Carter, 6)Carter, 6(C Although Johnson did not go with the ‘company town’ proposal, these were the ideas that influenced the administration building that ended up adjacent to the existing factory.

“My father had the idea of bringing the employer and worker together .. When people get proper wages and proper working conditions they don’t feel the need to organize to fight for what they want.” --Herbert F Johnson (Carter, 5)

S.C Johnson Administration Building Trevi, Alexander. “Encyclopedia Retrofuturologica.” Pruned. 2006. 14 June, 2009.

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Unlike the Larkin building, the Johnson Wax building was a low rise, with an emphasis on horizontality. The plan was centered around an inward looking large hall, with mushroom topped columns. Perhaps since his proposal to set the building away from the city in nature was rejected, he gave the building a brick facade, rejecting the urban environment it was set in, and focusing on the interiority of the building with its open plan where excecutive and clerical staff could work together. The flared tops of the columns resembled trees and the ceiling allowed natural light to pass through, the interior mimicking nature.

Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987


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Although the design philosophy was for an open plan where executives and clerical staff could “utopically” rub elbows, the president’s office and executive offices were located 2 floors above the great room. “Consider even beautiful sites like the Johnson Wax headquarters so comprehensively designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s. It clearly reflects a world of supervisors in elevated positions, where they could watch over a sea of clerical workers. This is not an autonomy or individual initiative.” Work Waves, Larry Keeley (Antonelli, 18)

S.C Johnson Administration Building Exterior Perspective sketch of the Administration building showing the entrance Carter, Brian, Johnson Wax: Administration Building and Research Tower: Frank Lloyd Wright, Phaidon Press Ltd, Hong Kong: 1998.


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Although there had been improvements in the overall esteem of the office worker, no longer considered a mere cog; the organization of the workplace was still largely hierarchical and emphasized the ability for a large number of lower level workers to be overseen by managers and executives. Despite Wright’s utopic ideals, the Johnson Wax building’s greatroom housed workers no differently than the Sears Roebuck order processing department in 1913. The post war era maintained many of the rigid hierarchies of a military organization, but with optimism for change. Although the furniture industry was experimenting with new materials and manufacturing processes, the designs of the desks stayed similar: flat tops supported by two sides, usually containing drawers. The manufacturing processes and materials used for furniture design were following those used in the construction and automotive industries. Change in workplace hierarchy was brewing but would not be seen until the 1960s.

Exterior Perspective Photo of the Administration building and Research Tower Carter, Brian. Johnson Wax: Administration Building and Research Tower: Frank Lloyd Wright, Phaidon Press Ltd, Hong Kong: 1998.


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Jacques Tati’s satirical film Play Time (1964-1967) takes place in a sterile urban environment where modern industrial technologies are presented as obstructions to daily life and interfering with human interaction. The main character is a befuddled Frenchman lost in the modernity of Paris. A Paris of “straight lines” with modernist glass, high rise buildings and cold artificial furnishings. “Monsieur Hulot gets lost in a maze of disguised rooms and offices, eventually stumbling into a trade exhibition of lookalike business office designs and furniture nearly identical to those in the rest of the building.” Playtime. Dir. Jacques Tati. With Jacques Tati. Bernard Maurice and René Silvera, 1967.

Play Time, 1967

Play Time Film Screenshots,


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In the 1960’s and onward, most businesses had adopted the open plan for junior staff and immediate managers with most middle and senior managers in varying degrees of seclusion in their own cellular offices. (Gower, 15-16) This seclusion was not only physical, but extended into the social and cultural realms. The office furnishings in this model also communicated power levels and roles. Interiors in these workplaces were known to be claustrophobic with long gloomy corridors that hid honeycombs of cellular offices, that resulted in poor, filtered communication. As a reaction, the emerging concerns of the 1970’s were to enhance communication between departments and achieve higher levels of flexibility (Albrecht, 11).

The Open Plan

1960’s Office Interior, Source Unknown


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The postwar construction boom in the United States produced large office spaces with modern amenities such as air conditioning and ample lighting. This reduced need for windows opened opportunity for new configurations of the office, departing from the traditional configuration of narrow bands of office space along windows. The signature of the modern office was large, open floors, resembling an industrial space. The layout for these new spaces favored the windows by lining the perimeters with the offices of those in higher positions, with the centers being filled in a pool layout of rows of desks repeating similar tasks. (Pile, 15) In post World War II Northern European countries, the social democratic nature of the region influenced a new way of looking at office design and layout. In 1950’s Germany, the planning company Quickborner started Bürolandschaft, or “office landscape,” a movement in office space planning, at the forefront of understanding workflow. It was an important attempt to increase communication and foster a more egalitarian work environment. (Pile, 18)

Postwar America, Northern Europe United States Post Office 1936, Minnesota Historic Society, Neg. No. 39987


Bürolandschaft enjoyed a brief period of popularity in Europe, especially in Germany. The planning process was found by many to be overly complicated, with 67 planning principles and intricate matrices determining the seemingly organic layout. Also, some complained of a lack of privacy, due to its main principle of transparency. By the end of the 1960’s, its main principles were picked up by Herman Miller, and developed into Action Office Furniture, which hybridized the Bürolandschaft to respond to concerns about accoustics and privacy.

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In 1970 U.S. Congress passes the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which led to the founding of NIOSH (Occupational Safety and Health Act) and OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), which had an effect on everything from office guidelines, specifications, with standards for lighting, materials, fabrics, acoustics, and physical stresses (Albrecht, 93).Albrecht, 93. Companies began to take responsibility for worker well being rather than focusing only on the bottom line while. At the same time, many studies begin to show that worker well being equates to improved productivity.

Unlike the American open plan office, Bürolandschaft strategically used partitions and large plants to create some degree of differentiation and privacy. The rationale for Bürolandschaft was derived from organizational theory, based on a more complex model of human relations rather than the time-andmotion approach of Taylorism. The Quickborner team of management consultants devised criteria for fitting a particular kind of office to a specific layout. It was of importance to design non-hiearchical workplace environments that increased communication betweeen people and allowed for future flexibility (Pile, 21)


Office Type Organizational Diagrams,


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Following with Frank Llyod Wrights concept of integrated architecture and furniture, SOM designed the Union Carbide Building. The entire building including the furniture, ceiling, filing and partitions, were based on a 30” module. Most large corportations during this time period were adapting from the traditional office building to the open office plan. In the Union Carbide reflected the rigid hierarchies of the corporate world. The office furniture was custom designed, down to the desk sets and ash trays. “Desks were basic metal frames with modesty panels and laminate tops” (Knobel, 46). Larger desks and more comfortable chairs were given to those worthy of the window offices.

Organized Office Building Knobel, Lance, Office Furniture Twentieth-Century Design, E.P. Dutton, New York: 1987


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In the 1960’s the idea of the workstation advanced and combined with the need for adjustable office furniture. Herman Miller introduced the Action Office 1 in 1964. The design came out of a research division Herman Miller established in 1960 which studied the needs of office workers. He noted that the furniture needed to “continually adapt to new projects and assignments” (Berry, 117). He also believed “White Collar work of all kind required an environment that was flexible and responsive to new ideas and changing opportunities” (Berry 1220). The end result was three pieces which consisted of Tshaped die-cast aluminum frame legs, plastic laminate work spaces, and rubber edge desks. Color was introduced to the pieces as well. The design received great attention from newspapers but not from business people who “were apparently unwilling to trade their familiar mahogany desks for strange blue objects on shiny legs” (Knobel, 58). The flexible design had a complex combination of materials and manufacturing processes. Although the pieces were attractive, they were cumbersome and not easily moved.

Advancement of the Workstation Berry, John R., Herman Miller The Purpose of Design, Universe Publishing, New York: 2004


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As the next iteration, Herman Miller released Action Office 2 in 1969 with a switch from free standing desks to ‘screen mounted’ furniture. The screens, or panels, allowed for compromise between open and closed offices. The inside surfaces, where users came into contact with the furniture, were soft, while exteriors were hard for both durability and privacy. The design was more sophisticated with a softer look, however, “few architects and interior designers understood how to use it”(Berry, 122), demonstrations were needed. Even though the collection took on a slow start it grew into a worldwide phenomenon. The design conceived an entirely new way of working.

Advancement of the Workstation Foa, Linda, Furniture for the Workplace, Rizzoll International Publications, New York: 1992


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Furniture companies continued to design systems similar to the Action Office, each addressing other problems in the work environment. The open office plan, which resulted from the Action Office, created a need for office furniture design which compromised between open communication and a need for privacy. Panel systems designed by Haworth, Steelcase and Herman Miller addressed this problem with designs that offered varying height walls between offices. This system was the beginning of the cubicle craze. To allow for variable setups, manufacturing methods were needed that could fabricate complex interlocking connections such as injection molders. Another office system, Steelcase’s “Series 9000” became extremely popular in the 70’s. Literally the most popular furniture system ever, it “makes effective use of office space while being designed for specific tasks and users”(Steelcase, 34). The collection won many design awards and was universal, yet adaptable. The office system continued to play a prominent role in shaping how people work, even to this day.

Office Systems

Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987


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In 1977 Apple launches its 1MHz Apple II, the first personal computer for $1250. The demand for home computers was growing steadily leading into 1980. Thus IBM wanted to create a new computer for the masses called the Personal Computer (PC). The emerging need to accommodate technology in office design created new incentives to focus energies on the computer and “home office.” In 1988, The Advance Building Systems Integration Consortium developed new building strategies to consider in office design. They dealt with anticipating new technologies, understanding their physical and environmental responses and controls needed and integrating building systems to provide, spatial, thermal, and visual comfort for long term integrity.

Introducing: The Computer Apple II Advertisement,


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Around the world, the office was evolving as well. Japan notably developed mulitple systems of running the office organization. The Toshiba Headquarters Building in Shibaru, Japan (1984) was the first demonstration of the advanced Japanese workplace. During this time, Japan was focused on productivity and introducing new construction technologies and innovations into building design. Though there was notable growth in building technology, the workplace was still far from ideal according to many of its workers. The Toshiba Headquarters was considered a complex system, with a 42 page occupancy manual that provided strict guidelines for how the building was to be used. Most of these guidelines dealt with the integrated innovative building technology, not necessarily office layout and interiors. Even with so many guidelines, workers complained of the constricted and outdated furnishings, inadequate surface storage, lack of acoustic and glare control, and cable management. At Toshiba, half of the workers complained their furnishings were inadequate for work and a third felt that the office environment had a negative effect on their ability to work (Ziga, 42).

Toshiba Headquarters Building Toshiba Headquarters Interior Offices and Cable Management, Ziga.


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The NTT Twins Building in Tokyo, Japan (1986) had similar issues of internal organization and comfort. Office workers disliked the expansive and undifferentiated work areas, dull colors, lack of storage, acoustic, thermal and lighting control. (Ziga, 110) Fixtures in the building poorly related to office layout. The workstations lacked separation and were densely packed. These issues related to building design were the foundation towards developing guidelines for office design and comfort. While Toshiba and NTT Twins are examples of worker discomfort, construction companies started looking closer into better strategies of designing the workplace

NTT Twins Building, Tokyo Japan NTT Twins Building Interiors, Ziga.


Takenana Komuten Construction company, builders of the Umeda Center in Osaka, Japan (constructed 1987) considers the following major features of “intelligent building” design: Amenity: mental and physical comfort, effective arrangement, spatial distinction Efficiency: time, costs Flexibility: for future organizational changes, existing and accommodating future technologies Convenience: manageable office space and easily handled office equipment Safety and Security: of humans, information and property Reliability: abnormalities should be detected early, minimize potential harm Ergonomics: psychological and anatomical characteristics of humans should determine arrangements

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Japanese office culture if heavily dependent on group-oriented tasks, these activities place productivity of the group over individual concerns. Namewashi is a common practice in the Japanese corporate world that focuses on laying “groundwork” before meetings as to avoid confrontation and conflict (Antonelli, 46). Much energy is focused in namewashi because the company and group comes first before personal interests in Japanese culture, fostering a very considerate and harmonious environment needed for successful meetings.

Umeda Center, Osaka Japan Umeda Center Interiors, Ziga.


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Back in the United States, the film, Nine to Five (1980) depicted women clerical workers who became fed up and successfully rebelled against their working conditions of “glass ceilings, extreme supervision, and hierarchy” (Antonelli, 30). The women were seen as taken advantage of and under appreciated by their male bosses who relied on them for everything, even ideas. The women sat in a clerical pool-layout, scrutinized where any misstep could get them fired, while their superiors worked in offices with closed doors. In the happy ending, when women prevailed and obtained positions of leadership, but the physical office layout remained the same, only with some women taking the place of the men in the offices with closed doors.

Nine to Five, 1980 Nine to Five, movie poster,


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Another film depicting dissatisfaction in the workplace was Office Space (Mike Judge, 1990) which satirized work life in a typical software company during the 1990’s. The film focused on office culture and distressed programmers in a “cube farm” where they were bullied by management. Fear of external consultants and recognized hierarchies and roles are some of the office politics that shape the movie’s satirical nature. The movie portrays poorly filtered and unorganized communication between workers and departments. Disapproval of office politics is shown by disrupting office norms and culture. Office Space initiated a movement in popular culture that used the office as the commonground location to appeal to its audience.The movie should also show up in the Bibliography page.

Office Space, 1990 Office Space, movie screenshot,


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The Dilbert comic strips were first published on April 16, 1989, written and drawn by Scott Adams, and is still running. The comic strips are known for satirical office humor with the protagonist, engineer Dilbert. Many of the first few comic strips originally dealt with Dilbert and his pet dog Dogbert at home. However, pop-culture soon shifted the focus from home to the office where nearly all strips now take place. During this change, Scott Adams began using dissatisfaction with workplace technology and company issues as central topics. Characters are portrayed as dysfunctional time wasters whose inefficiencies detract from corporate goals and values. Employee skills are not rewarded, busy work is praised and office politics hinders productivity.


Dilbert Cartoon Strip,, 2009


Though humorous in nature, some the strips fuel rather than cure the corporate situations it depicts. It is seen to not have any inclination to eradicate or question corporate victimization. Dilbert has become a popular and influential player in office culture where audiences see humor in mismanagement and ridiculous decision-making. Other topics explored by Dilbert are esotericism, incompetence and sadistic management, failure to recognize and act accordingly towards success or failure, lack of encouragement, lowering of office morale between employees, and the general public seen as unaware and gullible by company agendas.

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Xerox Company commented on the comic: “Dilbert phenomenon accepts and perversely eggs on many negative aspects of corporate existence.”

Dilbert Cartoon Strip,, 2009


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The increase in technology necessitated the need for office furniture which integrated cables, part, etc. In 1976 Haworth, Inc.’s Unigroup was the first office system to offer panel-integrated electrical power (Foa, 23). This innovation allowed for lights under the cabinets to illuminate the workspace. Electrical wires were stored and transferred within the panels. In 1980 the Burdick Group from Herman Miller integrated computer technology into its design. It used metal c-like channels to hold electrical cabling and other necessities beneath the glass tops. Wires were transfered to the floor through the table legs. The furniture brought wires from the floor and transfered them horizontally to the device, minimizing clutter (Knobel 88). Technology constantly shifts and people are doing a wider variety of tasks at work. As technology designs became transportable, office furniture needed to be movable. Designs were created which could be transferred throughout the office. Parts needed to move and wheels were attached to the bottom. Office work continued to change at a faster pace.


Foa, Linda, Furniture for the Workplace, Rizzoll International Publications, New York: 1992


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Office furniture started to incorporate user participation in the workspace. Ethospace was introduced by Herman Miller in 1984 (Berry 37). It was made up of tile-like panels which snapped into frames. It was also the first system to introduce optional glass panels. Textured glass began to show up as a component in many other systems because it allowed for some privacy while allowing light into the space and visually expanded the workers views outward, minimizing the feeling of isolation. In the new systems, the worker could choose from different colors and materials of panels, their placement, and substitutions such as cabinets and tack boards. To allow for customization, more materials such as plastic, rubber, fabric, etc. began being used in office furniture design. A workplace was created where people could choose to decorate or not at their own convenience. Such personal touches gave the occupants a feeling of control over their environment rather than imposing uniformity.

User Participation Foa, Linda, Furniture for the Workplace, Rizzoll International Publications, New York: 1992


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Furniture companies began to factor the environment into their practices and manufacturing processes, building designs and waste recycling rather than in the products themselves. In the 1980’s, when Steelcase became energy conscious, they created an innovative steam generating and waste disposal system. At the same time, companies began to clean up their manufacturing processes. Knoll Group set a goal to eliminate VOC emissions from solvents, metal coating and other processes (Foa 53). They also recycled the scraps from manufacturing their products such as excess cardboard, metal and paper. Companies’ philosophies toward the environment also showed up in plant expansions and building designs. When Herman Miller decided to reorganize their design and development related activities, they opted to separate the processes into four buildings eliminating excess heating and cooling of large spaces. They built the new environmentally friendly buildings on a rural piece of land they owned and later earned LEED Certification for the design (

Beginning of Environmental Awareness Herman Miller. Herman Miller, Inc. June 2009,


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The 1980s and 1990s office was a place adjusting to the ubiquity of the computer, and women began to obtain positions equal to men, although still drastically disproportionate in numbers. With the potential of the internet on the rise, telecommuting was seen as an answer for women in the workforce who often had to choose between work and the family.


Mom Working at Home,


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Offices adapted to an increasingly mobile workforce with the advent of hoteling, where workspace in the office is not assigned to a single person but is given to whomever needs to be working in the office for that particular day. A mobile workforce reduces the office space requirement and overhead costs such as electrical costs. Telework is considered to be ecologicalliy friendly as it cuts down on commuting by car, hence reducing fuel usage and pollution. “Work has lost its immediate identification with the office as a room or space in a designated building, where all work tasks are carried has become transportable and ubiquitous, almost a state of mind. Like a bubble of pure concentration that one can turn on and off with or without the help of tangible tools, work is where you are” (Antonelli, 8-9)

“Telework allows the most important fuel for human creativity: freedom. ‘for all the new tools of the workplace, for all its electronic appliances and communication apparatuses, for all its humanengineered desks and ergonomically correct chairs, why do so many of us do our best thinking when we’re some place else? And does the thinking that we do in our beds, showers, gardens and cars lead to a different wisdom than the thinking we do in our workplace?’*Akiko Busch, ed,. “The Ways We Work,” Metropolis, October 1993, pp. 5-36. The benefits of telework is the added flexibility for one to create their own work/life balance by working at home on their own terms, but this blurring of the boundary of on-time and off-time may lead to workers actually working longer hours.

Telework and Hoteling Blackberry Orphan “Is your Child a Blackberry Orphan? Balancing Work and Family.” She Knows. Sept 2008. 15 June 2009. < http://>


The Aeron Chair In 1994 the Aeron Chair designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick was debuted (Berry 200). As the ergonomics of furniture became more important, Herman Miller designed the ultimate office chair. Considered by many to be the most comfortable office chair there ever, the Aeron was also criticized for being too complex to operate to its optimal capability with too many unintuitive adjustable parts.

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As workers spend more and more time on the computer, work related injuries due to repetitive movements, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are on the rise. Worker well-being becomes more of an issue as work becomes increasingly computerized. Carpal tunnel syndrome incidences increase with white-collar workers, when it was formerly more of a bluecollar problem associated with the repetitive tasks of factory workers.

The major trend of the 1980 and 1990s was increased flexibility, from personally selecting cubicle fabrics, to temporary “hotelled” office space, to the uber-adjustable Aeron Chair, the reign of the ubiquitos cubicle was on the decline.

Office Furniture Meets Ergonomics Ergonimics Charts, Albrecht, pg. 78-79 Herman Miller. Herman Miller, Inc. June 2009 <>


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Awareness of sustainable issues increased partly due to the influence of political figures such as former Vice President Al Gore and his studies on global warming and mankind’s impact on the environment. Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006) deals with many emerging issues of building production processes and politics. The 2000s is also the era when we start to see more modular and reconfigurable office systems to suit company and individual needs.

The Sustainability Era Al Gore: An Inconvenient Truth, New York Times 2006


In 2000 Scott Adams, writer and artist of Dilbert, together with IDEO designer Fred Durst got together to design Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle. Today’s Facility Manager Blog describes the project showcases IDEO’s “highly adaptable design process and uses humor and optimism to explore the ‘blue sky’ area between Dilbert’s problems and real-life solutions available today.” (Gladys, 2008) The design answers to issues of personal control, absence of privacy and inadequate space and tools. IDEO describes: “the result is a modular cubicle that allows each worker to select from “a kit of parts” and create space based on his/ her tastes and lifestyle.”citation? Some practical considerations include modules for seats, computers, displays and lights. Other more whimsical modules incorporated into the design are a boss-cam, hammock, aquarium, hamster wheel and an acoustically activated mechanical flower thats supposed to provide the user with recognition and acknowledgment, otherwise absent in the workplace.

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The approach to office politics and cuture can be seen in the components integrated into the cubicle design, such as the mechanical flower, a built in cooler to “avoid food theft” and a dropdown chair to avoid chair theft. When the guest chair is deployed, it activates a timer for the telephone to ring in order to “dismiss” a guest. Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle accurately reflects the workplace world he exists in, and though the design team at IDEO lived for several weeks in a “Dilbertville” cubicle environment to get first-hand insights on prominent issues, fewer practical solutions than humorous ones resulted.

IDEO: Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle, Bob Riha Jr.


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In early 2009, Time Magazine released The Future of Work, a series of online articles commenting on current and future trends of the workplace and work culture. With unemployment being at a 25year high, jobs are still destined to return, but the look, feel and nature of these jobs and workplaces will change. People currently shifting into leadership roles (Generation X) will have to adapt to collaborative decision-making styles more and more with people around the world. There will be more flexible, freelance and more collaboration in far less secure work world. (Fisher, 1) The current market trends have caused students to look less into “standardized” career and academic paths as Wall Street becomes a less appealing destination. (Gottlieb, 1) It is evident that the future will be run by a generation of new values where information technology will be at the forefront of job growth and creation. Nearly 84% of jobs created between 1998 and 2006 involved some type of “complex knowledge” work like problem solving or corporate strategy. (McKinsey & Consulting) Over the next 7 years, jobs in the IT sector are expected to grow 24%, nearly two times the overall job growth rate. (Altman, 1)

The Future of Work Time Magazine, Steven Gottlieb, Getty 2009


We’re Getting Off the Ladder Time Magazine, Anthony West/ Corbis 2009

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With changing trends in office culture, the recent recession has posed new alternatives for cost-conscious companies to adapt to a new generation of workers. Alternatives like Deloitte’s Mass Career Customization Program (MCC), was designed to keep talented women in the workforce but now is considered a progressive approach to men and women alike, and can be used to keep the talent of would be retiring baby boomers in play. The recession provides incentives for companies like Deloitte to design more “latticeoriented” careers, which offers the possibility of horizontal rather than lateral movement. The program is based on the notion that one’s alottment to work may raise and fall depending on personal conditions, and not follow a strict and steady increase as the traditional corporate ladder suggests. Studies show telecommuting can help businesses cut real estate costs by 20% and payroll by 10% (Fitzpatrick, 1) although this raises the issue on the loss of company benefits for employees. However, department/ division redeployment and reducing hours is considered a less expensive option than layoffs than starting from scratch. As these financial incentives for flexibility grow, more firms are forced to offer alternative lateral career routes to its employees.


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Statistical analyst Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Jeff Brenman have presented research on educational statistics and found “the amount of technical information is doubling every 2 years, this means that for students starting a 4th year degree, half the information they learn their 1st year will be outdated by their 3rd year.” Other findings by the U.S. Department of Labor estimates today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38. The top ten jobs in 2010 are considered non-existing before 2004, thus suggesting we are preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist or are being out-grown. The rapid exponential growth of information will create new jobs with more need for designers, brainstormers and lab technicians. (Godin, 1) Internet technology and collaborative work spaces will be more prominent as they open the doors to more productive and teambased work. The “last days of cubicle life” seems to be a topic consistent with current workplace and market trends where the need for hallways and farms of cubicles or closed doors are fading away. These layouts and models of workplace environments are seen as too slow and expensive in some sectors.

The Last Days of Cubicle Life Cubicle, User Submitted to “The Office” Website


‘‘In the ultimate cubicle, information flows fast, keeps pace,’’ said Tom Vecchione, director of workplace strategy for Gensler Design & Planning in New York.

Re-Thinking the Cubicle

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Ironically, recently published an article in their Job section entitled The Ultimate Cubicle (Jenn Abelson, 2009). Another more practical yet still whimsical design reminiscent of IDEO’s 2000 design of Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle. The main difference between Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle and’s version is more of an inclination to promote “transparent” and accessible information. With its transparent cubicle walls and double-sided LCD computer monitors, information and access to it becomes easier. Another notable difference is the design’s incorporation of technology, such as the built-in iPod dock, smart desk surface that digitizes anything handwritten on it, and personal floor vent temperature control.

‘‘Today’s workstation is low- or nopaneled. The office is transparent and there are 360-degree views, so an employee’s level of awareness is heightened. You are exposed, but people are exposed to you. There are no barriers to information, which leads to greater creativity and innovation.’’

The Ultimate Cubicle, Jenn Abelson,, 2009


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Cultural trends and traditions vary widely across the globe. In Spain and other countries there is about a three hour block of time taken to go home, eat, sleep and relax. Though work is very important in Spain, you very rarely see anyone eating at their desk. Open spaces still prevail “so that everyone sees everyone, except for the boss, who usually reserves for himself a big office where he will not be watched.” (Antonelli, 67) Soccer game matches have a huge impact on office morale, work schedules and meeting times.


Spanish Studio Office, Netsurfer, Antonelli, Paola, Workspheres: Design and Contemporary Work Styles, The Museum of Modern Art, New York: 2001. pg. 67


In a Korean office, often times confrontation and questioning is seen as professionalism. Koreans also employ the usual office hierarchies but this does not change people’s nature. “In spite of family-like atmosphere, work is strictly ordered in a hierarchical structure. One typical layout has desk arranged so a superior can see the backs of subordinates and their screens as a way of keeping watch.” (Antonelli, 48)

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“Koreans are rather direct, they don’t hold feelings inside too long, but respond on the spot. Which can lead to arguments ...but this also means they don’t retain negative feelings once the conflict is settled.” (Antonelli, 48)

There is usually at least one woman per work section, as its their work to serve tea, though they receive an extra day of pay every month. The office dining halls are also commonly used as wedding reception areas where every staff member and family are invited to attend. Korea fosters a very family-like atmosphere where strict management and hierarchies are not considered dysfunctional.

Korea Gender in the Korean Workplace, Southerton 2009


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Environmental awareness reached an all time high in the 2000s and environmental responsibility reached the mainstream and corporate consciousness. One way to better the environment is to use natural resources. Material manufacturers are taking steps to safely use more of these resources. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a group established to judge the sustainability of manufactured wood. It works to develop worldwide sustainable forestry. The council considers 10 Principles and 57 Criteria that address legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts surrounding forest management (http://www. If the manufactured wood passes all the criteria then it is stamped with and FSC logo of approval. Many furniture companies pride themselves in using only FSC certified wood, and it is even a credit in the LEED certification process (US Green Building Council 281).

Sustainable Materials The Forest Stewardship Council. Forest Stewardship Council A.C. June 2009


Bamboo plywood. June 2009,

Not only are office companies trying to effectively use natural resources, they are developing and using alternate materials which are more sustainable. In 2005 major furniture companies including Steelcase and Herman Miller began working with McDonough Braungart Chemistry to form a cradle-to-cradle strategy for their products. “Instead of designing cradle-to-grave products, dumped in landfills at the end of their ‘life,’ the goal is create products for cradle-to cradle cycles, whose materials are perpetually circulated in closed loops. Maintaining materials in closed loops maximizes material value without damaging ecosystems”(MDBC Website). Chemists judge existing materials and create new ones based on 19 human health and environmental relevance criteria (http://www.mbdc. com/index.htm). Many products have been designed successfully using these new materials.

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As an alternative to wood, bamboo is a sustainable material that is currently expanding to new applications. It has been developed into a plywood form and as a veneer with a wheat straw board core. Bamboo is an excellent choice for strong, flexible furniture. The plants, which are technically a grass, grow faster than any commercial tree, and can be continually harvested. It is stronger than oak and comes in a variety of colors. It can be glued, sanded and fastened just like wood (Hart, “Sustainable Materials: Bamboo”).


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In the mid 2000’s, Herman Miller introduced Mirra: “a high performing, environmentally advanced work chair and the first piece of office furniture to be developed from its inception according to cradle-to-cradle principles”( A comfortable and ergonomic office piece, only 4 percent of the chair is not recyclable. Herman Miller is currently working on a program to take back its furniture after its use to ensure that it will be properly recycled. Material advances occurred in office desks as well. Steelcase produced Answer, the world’s first cradle-tocradle workstation. Its components are easily disassembled and recycled. Natural materials are used if possible and the use of adhesives is minimized. The system is also entirely PVC free. It is an example of sustainable materials combined with an ultra flexible station design. There are three main criteria that companies such as Herman Miller consider when they design products. “First is the material chemistry. We take a really deep dive and want to know all of the chemicals that are in the materials that we use” (Charon, Next, they look at disassembly. Last is whether the materials can be recycled at the end of the furniture’s lifespan.


Sustainable Materials Steelcase. Steelcase Inc. June 2009, Herman Miller. Herman Miller, Inc. June 2009,

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Disassembly is crucial to sustainability because if the product is not easily taken apart for recycling, then it will most likely be thrown into the trash and landfills. Based on their own study, Herman Miller now designs every connection so it can come apart in under 30 seconds, which is the maximum amount of time they found a person will try before giving up on dissassembling any given connection. Using this rule their Mirra chair can be taken apart in under 15 minutes. Steelcase’s Think Chair can be disassembled in only 5 minutes and is 98 percent recyclable.

Herman Miller. Herman Miller, Inc. June 2009, Steelcase. Steelcase Inc. June 2009,


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Recycling is another component of sustainablity, both for products after their lifecycle and as materials to create new products. Companies are beginning to use recycled and environmentally- conscious materials coupled with innovative design. For example PLI furniture designed the Reee Chair using 100 percent recycled game counsels. “...Everyone needs to step back and reinvent the idea of modern manufacture,” says Pli Product Manager Alex Whitney. “The ‘Grass’ series and up coming ‘Reee’ chair range, made using 100% recycled plastic, show where we see the future of product design”(www.plidesign. When designing furniture that will be recycled after its use, companies have to be careful that the the pieces are not down-cycled. Downcycling is a term used when the embodied energy to recycled the pieces, or the off-put from manufacturing recycled material is more harmful than making a new piece. Biodegradable materials are a good alternative.

Sustainable Materials Pli Design | next generation furniture. Pli Design Ltd. June 2009,


Herman Miller. Herman Miller, Inc. June 2009 <>

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There are other programs which recognize sustainable design. One example is LEED certification, a point system which rewards projects with tax incentives when reaching prescribed levels of sustainable practice. The US Green Building Council gives “innovation in design” points for using cradle-to-cradle office furniture when designing offices and buildings. It is important to realize these are not the only ways to design environmentally friendly furniture. Durability and longevity of use is an important component as well. Longevity combined with timeless design will ensure that products will be used for longer, resulting in the need for less raw materials to be produced. Also, reducing material waste during production will take less resources from the environment and leave less waste behind. Looking towards the future, companies are setting goals to use even more sustainable manufacturing techniques and materials. Herman Miller set an initiative called Perfect Vision; by the year 2020 they hope to be a totally sustainable company, meaning they will produce zero landfill, zero hazardous waste, and zero air/water emissions. They want to purchase 100 percent renewable energy, and to have all their buildings obtain a minimum of Silver LEED certification. At this point they are up to 16 percent, which is up from 6 percent last year (http://www.


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Beginning in the 1990’s, office furniture materials attempted to simulate the look and feel of the home. Walled cubicles were replaced with dynamic work stations. Couches, cushioned chairs and tables were organized in common gathering spaces. Recently, Coalesse, part of the Steelcase family, manufactured a live/work office furniture collection. It promotes a new lifestyle of work where offices are “places of life, community and nuances”(http:// With attention to detailing and craftsmanship, the collection has a richness of materials using FSC certified wood, a noncarcinogenic chrome and cradleto-cradle materials. The collection also uses a “slow manufacturing process,” which means products are being manufactured closer to the regions they sell to, minimizing transport costs and emissions.

Designing for the Home Coalesse. Steelcase, Inc. June 2009,


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Another recent trend is to incorporate exercise into the workplace, which has been blamed for contributing to stagnate lifestyles. Capitalizing on the exercise craze of the 2000’s, Steelcase designed a walk-station, which combines the office cubicle and a treadmill. In collaboration with Doctor John Levine, the company created a station which costs about $4,000 and has a quiet motor, designed for slow speeds. To many people, walking while working seems like a distraction but people who use it say it increases their concentration. After a year of testing at a company in Kentucky, “the treadmill is in use about 60 percent of the workday, mostly for conference calls... Many workers, may try it out, but they don’t make it a part of their daily life”(Blass).

Office Exercise

Blass, Evan. “Steelcase’s Walkstation marries desk and treadmill.” Engadget. 19 Oct. 2007. June 2009, Katz, Mandy. “I put in 5 Miles at the Office.” The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 6 Sept. 2008. 11 June 2009,


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Work becomes increasingly more integrated with the computer and the ergonomic problems that ensue are addressed by computer interface forms becoming increasingly amorphous and nontraditional thanks to digital design and advanced manufacturing methods. The forms are fitting to the body and each function is entirely specific for a certain use and task. This type of body-conscious design gets incorporated into workstations such as Asikainenen and Terho’s Netsurfer station (1996) (exhibited in MOMA’s Workspheres Show in 2001), with a recliner that resembles the form of a body in zero gravity. The workstation is so fitting to the body to the point of where the body ideally is forgotten in lieu off the task at hand. In reality this ultra specific design offers little flexibility to do more than one type of task or to fit more than one body type.

Ergonomics Today


USB Finger Mouse, Evoluent vertical Mouse, handshoe mouse, Netsurfer, Antonelli, Paola, Workspheres: Design and Contemporary Work Styles, The Museum of Modern Art, New York: 2001. p 98

The grand experiment ultimately failed with no clear explanation, and the progressive layout was scrapped for a return to traditional cubicles. The LA office attempted to learn from the mistakes of the NYC office, “The LA facility provided an individual space for every employee based less on hierarchy and more on function, an enormous variety of work settings, and an aesthetic that has a sense of fun and a sense of humor. .. knit together concepts of privacy, ownership, image, motivation, control, and efficiency that have been the source of contrast and controversy between classic and alternative work environments” (Antonelli, 34). One of the speculated reasons why the Day/Chiat experiment ultimately failed was because the technology at the time was only budding, “But times change, technologies improved, and now hotelling- also called hot-desking- is back- where employees don’t have fixed desks or offices but work on the road, at home or in groups supported by the equipment they need. It saves a lot of space and it could save a lot of energy” (Alter). One of the technologies that have allowed for more successful telework is the now ubiquitos smartphone, which is a mobile phone with PC-like capabilities, such as the Blackberry which is commnonly used for checking email. Employees with smartphones work longer days and tend to be available for business communication during more hours of the day. The average user equipped with a smartphone works 71 additional minutes per day, or 15% more per week, according to a Nucleus Research survey. The survey also found that the average mobile user first checks in on his device at 7:10 a.m. and last checks his device at 10:00 p.m. (McGillicuddy). It is debatable whether constantly being “on-call” for work actually saves time, making work more efficient and improves the worker’s quality of life, or if blurring the distinction of work and home only equates into constant work.

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In the late 1990s, ad agency Chiat/Day rethought the office, incorporating many cutting edge ideas into the layout of their NYC office with, “maximum opportunity for individuals to connect and work together. State-if-the-art mobile technology was employed; there were no individual space assignments; and the notion of hierarchy was stripped from the visual language. The design and aesthetic had no parallel model. It was the the antithesis of Union Carbide in the 1960s. A value was clearly placed on high motivation, teamwork, diversity of ideas, and value-laden communication” (Antonelli, 34).

“So does a mobile device cause them to work more hours per week? Well, kind of -- yes,” he said. “These are people who would already work more hours because they have to go out in the field and check on jobs and stuff. But, to us, we consider that it saves us time, because if he’s in the field and not connected, then when he gets back to the house and does email, he would spend that much more time doing work, and it directly affects an employee’s happiness,” says Michael Pate, CIO of Complete Production Services Inc., an oilfield services company. Michael Pate, CIO of Complete Production Services Inc., an oilfield services company (McGillicuddy).

Chiat / Day




Work is becoming more ergonomic, more flexible, more comfortable, and thankfully more eco-friendly. Work can be done in your pajamas at home in bed. What may be considered an improvement or a new problem is the blurred distinction between work life and home life. Working from home gives some people the flexibility to spend time with their children, albeit while working. Material use for the furniture is limitless and designers are continually experimenting with new manufacturing techniques. Furniture design is leading architecture now in innovative fabrication and material rather than furniture design following the building and automotive industries. Designs form to the body and it seems that work is increasingly evolving to incorporate into our selves.


Albrecht, Donald, and Broikos, Chrysanthe B., On the Job: Design and the American Office, Princeton Architectural Press, New York: 2001. Alter, Lloyd. “Hotelling: It’s Baaaack!” 22 Jan. 2008. 10 June 2009 < php.>. Akiko Busch, ed,. “The Ways We Work,” Metropolis, New York: October 1993, pp. 5-36. Antonelli, Paola, Workspheres: Design and Contemporary Work Styles, The Museum of Modern Art, New York: 2001. Asensio, Oscar, Office Furniture Design, Rockport Publishers, Gloucester, MA: 2006. Bamboo plywood. June 2009 <> Berry, John R., Herman Miller The Purpose of Design, Universe Publishing, New York: 2004. Blass, Evan. “Steelcase’s Walkstation marries desk and treadmill.” Engadget. 19 Oct. 2007. June 2009 < steelcases-walkstation-marries-desk-and-treadmill/>. Carter, Brian, Johnson Wax: Administration Building and Research Tower: Frank Lloyd Wright, Phaidon Press Ltd, Hong Kong: 1998. Coalesse. Steelcase, Inc. June 2009 <> Foa, Linda, Furniture for the Workplace, Rizzoll International Publications, New York: 1992. Herman Miller. Herman Miller, Inc. June 2009 <> Louis Press & Associates, Inc., The Steelcase National Study of Office Environments: Do They Work?, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids: 1978.


Katz, Mandy. “I put in 5 Miles at the Office.” The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 16 Sept. 2008. 11 June 2009 <>.


Hart, Kelly. “Green Home Building: Bamboo.” Hartworks, Inc. 2001. 14 June 2009 <>. Knobel, Lance, Office Furniture Twentieth-Century Design, E.P. Dutton, New York: 1987. MBDC. MBDC, LLC. June 2009 < dex.htm> U.S. Green Building Council, New Construction, Version 2.2 Reference Guide, U.S. Green Building Council, Washington D.C.: 2006 McGillicuddy, Shamus. “Smartphonese Encourage Users to Work Longer Hours.” 09 Apr 2008. 10 June 2009 <,289142,sid40_gci1308971,00.html> “Specifying It: Herman Miller’s Scott Charon and Susan Lyons @ ICFF 2007.” Metropolis Magazine. 21 May 2007. June 2009 <http://www.>. Pile, John, Open Office Planning, Whitney Library of Design, New York: 1978. Playtime. Dir. Jacques Tati. With Jacques Tati. Bernard Maurice and René Silvera, 1967.

Pli Design | next generation furniture. Pli Design Ltd. June 2009 <>. Quinan, Jack, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building: Myth and Fact, The MIT Press, Cambridge: 1987. Steelcase, Steelcase: The First 75 Years, Steelcase Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1987. Steelcase. Steelcase Inc. June 2009 <> The Forest Stewardship Council. Forest Stewardship Council A.C. June 2009 <> Trevi, Alexander. “Encyclopedia Retrofuturologica.” Pruned. 2006. 10 June, 2009. <> Altman, Alex. “High Tech, High Touch, High Growth - The Future of Work - TIME.” 15 June 2009 <,28804,1898024_1898023_1898101,00.html>. Anderson, Porter. “ - Scott Adams: Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle - August 28, 2001.” - 15 June 2009 <>. Fisher, Anne. “When Gen X Runs the Show - The Future of Work - TIME.15 June 2009 <, 28804,1898024_1898023_1898086,00.html>. FITZPATRICK, LAURA. “We’re Getting Off the Ladder - The Future of Work - TIME.15 June 2009 < article/0,28804,1898024_1898023_1898076,00.html>. Gladys. “Facility Blog » IDEO.” Today’s Facility Manager | Home. 15 June 2009 <>. GODIN, SETH. “The Last Days of Cubicle Life - The Future of Work - TIME.” 15 June 2009 <,28804,1898024_1898023_1898077,00.html>. GOTTLIEB, STEVEN. “The Way We’ll Work - The Future of Work - TIME.” 15 June 2009 <,28804,1898024_1898023_1898169,00.html>. IDEO. “Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle - Case Studies -.” IDEO. 15 June 2009 <>. “NSW Government Workplace Guidelines.” NSW Government Asset Management Committee. 15 June 2009 <>. “Offices That Work,” Franklin Becker , William Sims - Cornell University International Workplace Studies Program Curtis, William. “Walter Gropius, German Expressionism, and the Bauhaus”. Modern Architecture Since 1900 (2nd Ed. ed.). Prentice-Hall. pp. 309–316. Rosie’s Proud of her Band of Sisters, Kevin Cullen, Seattle Times, May 30, 2004 <> “Bürolandschaft,” 02 History of the Office <>


Workplace Trends: From the Secretary to the Blackberry  
Workplace Trends: From the Secretary to the Blackberry  

Comprehensive research on the histrory and evolution of the "workplace" environment. Topics cover architecture, culture, practices, fabricat...