Office Design Throughout the Decades: The 1960s
Date: November 19, 2019
Category: Featured Trend

The 60s is arguably one of our nation’s most iconic eras. This decade saw the Vietnam War, the moon landing, a presidential assassination, and the advent of a free-love lifestyle. Culture and livelihoods began to move from smaller, rural towns to the ever-expanding cities and suburbs. To reflect these significant changes, home décor, fashion, and office design also shifted from more muted and subtle displays that were prevalent in previous decades. The 60s saw the dawn of many office furnishings and styles that we still use today. We share a few of the most popular trends in commercial office design throughout this groovy decade below.

The Cubicle

Workplaces of the 50s implemented a hierarchical layout in which elite office staff were placed in spacious and private offices around the perimeter. Entry-level staff was grouped in the middle in large, open-desk communal spaces. At the start of the 60s, more women entered the workforce and there was a greater push for equality amongst staff of all levels.

The introduction of the cubicle was an attempt at leveling out power and offering equality, privacy, and security to a majority of office staff. Instead of few employees receiving quiet, private spaces, the cubicle could allow all staff a personal workstation without devouring precious square footage. This design didn’t prevent conversation or collaboration; rather, it allowed for less distraction and interruption. The cubicle remains a mainstay of many office designs and still gives staff a significant amount of autonomy without making the entire office feel cluttered or cramped.

Modern Minimalism

The 60s is synonymous with bright, fun colors, whimsical patterns, and most importantly, the challenging of societal norms. It’s no surprise that office design throughout this decade reflects changing attitudes. Modern furniture with sleek surfaces and curved lines were inviting and fun while still remaining professional and functional. Pops of color found their way into curtains, upholstery, and appliances, fostering an increasingly light-hearted approach to the workplace environment.

Comfortable Lounge Areas

When we think of the 60s office space, we often conjure images of advertising magnet Don Draper from Mad Men, clinking whiskey glasses with business execs across a mid-century modern coffee table from the comfort of a bright orange sofa. This image isn’t too far off. While offices did facilitate the use of cubicles to give most employees their own mini office, there was still a need for entertainment and meeting spaces, as technology hadn’t yet allowed for video chats or webinars. Sales teams, clients, and colleagues could collaborate, strategize, and negotiate in private and comfortable areas complete with inviting couches, beverages, and soft lighting. Many businesses implement the same configuration in their offices to encourage staff to brainstorm, convene, and take a well-deserved coffee break.

While some constructs from the 60s have faded into the past, like the three-martini lunch, others have stayed for the better. Minimalist, whimsical design seen throughout corporate office environments in the 60s has made its way to our modern era, making the workplace more enjoyable. Environments Denver keeps up with current office trends while drawing upon tried and true furnishings, fixtures, and décor from iconic decades. Contact us today for a free consultation on your commercial office design.