CUBE ENVY

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ACTION OFFICE I

It was the lovechild of Robert Propst, a graphic designer and sculptor, and George Nelson of Henry Miller Inc. (not to be confused with Henry Valentine Miller, writer of Sexus; Plexus; and Nexus and five-times-wed).

The modern-day CUBE’s geneology, when examined in retrograde, wistfully carries you back to its sexy progenitor, the ACTION OFFICE I system, a state-of-the-art creation conceived and erected amid the brainy communion of Propst and Nelson.

Birthed out several years prior to the “Summer of Love,” it was spacious, audacious, visionary and cool. An enticing design of low level partitions and high-end aspirations, it set hearts a-racing. One look, and you had to have it!

Its seductively shaped swivel chair coyly beckoned sitters and twirlers. The system focused its design on getting the blood pumping. The ACTION OFFICE I’s secret power was an adjustable desktop. On a whim or prayer, workers could raise it up; could stand, twist or pirouette while typing. So committed was Propst to enhancing the worker’s depth of experience, he published a book parlaying his close observations and revelations into exactly what people wanted – at work.

“…Today’s office is a wasteland,” he writes inside. “It saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment. It is the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort.”

Chew on that for a while.

Groundbreaking, humanistic, but too costly for the average office budget, the ACTION OFFICE I system, alas, never took off.

Citing irreconcilable differences, Robert Propst filed for divorce. Flourishing in his new-found freedom sans Nelson, Propst played the field, bedding many exciting, but fly-by-night, ideas until he uncovered his finest. La Media Naranja. His other half of the orange.

Tapping into his preternatural people prowess, he wrapped his mind around an abstracted dream and kissed it alive. He would personally introduce the man-cave and the she-shed into the kinetics of the workplace.

He envisaged a space surrounded by two or three sides, a space that could be personalized, and which would also provide a view of the goings-on outside that space. Basically, more speed-dating, less wedlock.

ACTION OFFICE II became his bar sinister offspring and a huge success. From thence, the modern day cubicle was born.

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ACTION OFFICE II

Given all the passion that went into it, what rogue DNA caused ACTION OFFICE II to mutate into the cheerless hexahedron of gloom I inhabit below?

If ever there were a case of workstation envy more severe than what preys on me, it must have sapped its host so dry she got sucked up into the ceiling vent.

Hail squelcher of self-expression! The universe spits on you!

The CUBE is dead. Long live the CUBE!

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