A Brief History of Pods
It all began in the early 20th century, where open plan offices were rarely heard of and seen as a novelty. Some architects and designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright despised walls and doors due to their lack of flexibility and spaciousness. This hatred sparked an idea, which was introduced by a German design group named Quickborner in the 1950s. They created the ‘bürolandschaft’ (which is German for ‘office landscape’).
Their design consisted of undivided spaces in which the environment was controlled mechanically through an open plan, with only a small amount of partitions and plantation to allow at least some privacy. The ceilings also utilised absorbing panels in order to decrease the onslaught of busy office noise.
The design was based on a scientific model of human relations, in which all of the team was encouraged to sit on a single open floor. Their theory was that working in a way that didn’t promote hierarchy would increase flexibility and communication between staff.
American furniture company, Herman Miller then adopted these ideas in order to create their own ‘Action office System’ which tried to improve upon the original formula. It offered larger desking surfaces and varied heights which allowed offices to customise their office workspace to a larger extent. It was a failure to Herman Miller’s Designer,Robert Propst, who described his creation as ‘monolithic insanity’.
We still use his idea of the pod today, although now it incorporates the humanity that the designer wanted all along. Instead of the standard tightly knit pods of an older time that caused claustrophobic employees, pods have been incorporated with the idea of the open plan. Modern day offices often include some department separation, but are often only separated by a glass partition.