421: Workspace

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
421: Workspace

What would be in your dream workspace?

Show notes and links:
Brain Pickings
The Guardian
BDC Network
Washington Post

Full episode script

Just like every other design challenge or design opportunity, offices and workspaces go through trends and fads. In some ways, it’s a pendulum that seems to swing back and forth — what is old becomes new again, over and over again.

The first widely recognized open-plan office came about in the early 1900s, when Frank Lloyd Wright designed an office workspace to look like a factory floor, with an open room surrounded by offices. It’s a trend that would continue, largely, in one form or another until the modern day. That doesn’t mean that it’s always been loved, though.

Quoting from the Washington Post:

Initially, the cubicle was seen as liberating, providing autonomy to workers who had grown weary of the “Big Brother is Watching You” experience of the open office. The inventor of the cubicle, Robert Propst, criticized the open office of the 1960s as a wasteland that “saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment.” The cubicle was designed to once again provide privacy and personal space, while also allowing for relatively easy communication.

Cubicle, open-plan, or something in between, there’s also been a shift away from assigned or dedicated office space for office working, however. From the Building Design and Constuction network:

In the past, workplace designers would plan 100 desks for every 90 people in the office, or 90% utilization. Now, some companies are shooting for something more like 120-130% utilization, because employees are spending more time in meeting rooms and project spaces, at clients’ offices, and telecommuting.

Once you get out of the office, though, things get INCREDIBLY interesting. Buzzfeed’s 40 photos of famous artist workspaces, I admit, is something that I return to on a regular basis, because every one is so very very different. The kind of space that you get work done in and the kind of space you dream about may even be two very different things. As the Brain Pickings blog puts it:

Since the dawn of creative time, an artist’s studio has been a reflection of his or her creative process — a private, sacred and deeply personal temple of meaning and ideation.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.