How Herman Miller’s Innovative Office Design Led to the Dreaded Cubicle

We’ve all been there: The best of intentions sometimes don’t always have the best results—right? Such was the case with an interesting bit of office design history.

Fifty years ago, the design company Herman Miller introduced a revolutionary element of office culture-to- be—the office cube. Before that radical step, there was little available in the way of personalization. This allow for colorful storage, the use of vertical space, and an innovative rolltop desk. And if failed, dramatically.

It’s successor was wildly successful, however, with walls that allowed forunheard-of flexibility. But the years since haven’t had the expected results. Those walls ended up rigid angles that provided a decreasing amount of space. Some of the newer options have returned to the design’s roots, with welcome versatility that’s once again opened up offices.

Whatever your feelings about the cubicles that are prevalent in today’s work culture, understanding their history is an enjoyable lesson in how design adapts through the years, as this graphic proves.