I remember the day I first stepped into our brand-new cube farm. My first impression of the space was that it was uniformly beige: beige walls, beige floor, beige furniture. The little cubicles were arranged in rows that fostered communication between small teams, but it felt a lot like we’d been assigned to habitats at a zoo.
Over time, I noticed something else, though. Humans being humans, we were undaunted by the beige and began to settle into our habitats. My cube slowly grew some personality, and so did everyone else’s. Now, looking through the space, I notice color instead of beige.
This is a small photo gallery of the humanization of our workspace. It’ll be a continuing theme here at AchaWrites.
The above was our blank canvas. I especially like the way in which each person’s personality is expressed through their cube decor. Cubes are much less formal than houses, yet we spend most of our lives in them. The decor becomes a detritus of informal items relating to hobbies, or the family that we’ve left behind, or a subtle subtextual rebellion against the formality of the workplace.
Found object art is key to cubicle decor. In this case, stale marshmallows are repurposed into statuary.
Collage is also an important medium for cubicle expression. In this case, two pictures of Honey Badgers (oops! They are actually African pouched rats, thanks, Alyx!) are altered to express the different personalities of each individual, using magazine clippings and lined paper to adjust each photo.
Doodles are the most ubiquitous form of cube decor. Doodles are so prevalent because the materials for their creation (as well as time) are always available. Meetings require pads and pens, and become hour-long spaces for meditation and self-expression. Often doodles reflect the slow-burning angst of an ordinary workday. Sometimes they reflect the patter of inside jokes between coworkers, as in the photo above.
Toys at work: infantilization or a welcome reminder to play? Perhaps both. Desk toys are their own popular genre, sold online at such places as Thinkgeek and J-list. One coworker is slowly collecting a small tribe of plush primates. I have my own small collection of objects — my mother’s tin toys from the 60s and 70s, and an Edward Gorey cat.
What does cubicle decor ultimately say about humanity? Perhaps that despite our surroundings, humans have an innate tendency to express our creativity, whether we mean to or not.