In many companies, it has replaced the traditional individual office room or the large, unpartitioned space shared by many workers. The cubicle is intended to be a compromise that allows a certain amount of privacy, sound-proofing, and lack of distraction for the individual while at the same time encouraging a sense of collective space shared by all. The cubicle is also intended to be more cost-efficient.
The cubicle’s place today is weirdly equivocal. On the one hand, few words so quickly express contemporary workplace frustration and anomie; one hardly goes a week without reading or hearing about someone working in a “faceless cubicle,” or a “cube farm,” or a “cubicle inferno.” These elicit practically universal understanding, even for people who haven’t worked in an office.
Partly this is the success of things like Dilbert—which is so inextricable a part of office work that Scott Adams actually sells Dilbert-themed cubicle decor—or Office Space, where the cubicle is viewed as a kind of excrescence against human nature: As the main character Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingstone) says, “Human beings weren’t meant to sit in little cubicles, staring at computer screens all day.”
Do check with some of the designs of the cubicals in the gallery.