Is the office cubicle actually designed to crush your soul? The strange history and significance of a much-loathed space
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‘We drive to work in a box, we work in a box, we go home and watch a box and, before we know it, they bury us in a box.’
Over the past several decades, the cubicle has become universal shorthand for an oppressive, soul-crushing work environment where dreams go to die. But why has the cubicle become both so hated and so ubiquitous?
With equal doses of deadpan humour and historical insight, the Canadian filmmaker Zaheed Mawani tackles the rise of the cubicle and the matter of why its inventor, the US designer Robert Propst, came to hate its implementation. Along the way, we hear office workers who spend their days fantasising about breaking free from their three-walled lives, cultural critics who lament the soullessness of the modern office, and even a few cubicle defenders.
For a different take on the modern office, read Kate Losse’s essay ‘Tech Aesthetics’.