Thursday, 9 July 2009

Oh hideous efficiency

In 1915 a horrible ill was visited on the office worker, for it was in that year that the Steelcase Corporation invented The Modern Efficiency Desk and doesn't the very name deliver shudders to the spine. The new desk consisted of a mere slab of metal atop 3 drawers and essentially was unlockable. Prior to its existence all desks were modelled on the Wooton Patent Cabinet Office Secretary (pictured). This design, unfurled, revealed a texture of cubbyholes where one could secret away nibbles, pornography or any time-wasting treat and, of course, work not yet done. All this and you could lock it up too. The Wooton patent enabled, "the conscientious withdrawal of efficiency" (Thorstein Veblen), hence its demise. The metal slab made shore your thoughts were not your own and brought shortly in its wake, oh horrible! open plan.

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