The Classic Cubicle

There is one cubicle that everyone thinks about when they hear the word “cubicle”. Most likely they envision a sea of cubicles in an office, long cubicle panels coupled with a stark fabric. No glass, very little natural light and in general a dreary working environment. The cubicle most people are seeing in their minds eye is a Herman Miller AO1 cubicle. AO1 or Action Office 1 was essentially the first cubicle to market. It was invented in 1961 and taken to the work place by Robert Propst, late CEO of Herman Miller. Back then it was a revolutionary idea. It made it possible to seat an entire workforce with out creating costly private offices or have every employee in a desk scattered across the workspace. Herman Miller Ao1 provided privacy, storage, sound dampening and it sparked an entire industry in the blink of an eye.

Even though most people think that AO1 is for the budget conscious  or the famed boring boss think again. Herman Miller AO1 has transformed over the years to still make a dent in the market. In my opinion thats how you know something was done right the first time. The original design is still intact and it still competes with the coolest of cubicles like the Knoll Currents and even Herman Millers own Ethospace. Herman Miller has done a fantastic job over the years with reinventing the AO1 system. They even came out with a sister cubicle called Herman Miller Ao2 that provides a little more storage, more room for cables etc. I imagine when AO1 first came out you probably had a handful of fabric choices, sizes were limited and it was probably a tad pricey. Now, you can find the worlds first cubicle almost anywhere, you have an enormous arsenal of fabrics to choose from including your own custom fabrics and you can create almost any cubicle size.

AO1 and Ao2 are loved by the furniture industry. I have been in the industry my entire life and I have never heard anyone say “man I just don’t like Herman Miller Ao1”. LOL. The reason its so loved is that everyone knows the system..installers, sales people, even buyers. Its easy to tear down, reconfigure, store in a warehouse and stacks beautifully in a truck for shipping. Its also one of the most widely sold used cubicles in the world, alone has over 300 stations of Herman Miller Ao1. Its doesn’t even stop there. There is so much Herman Miller Ao1 in the used office furniture market that it spun off another industry…the remanufactured market. There are office furniture dealers that buy up loads and loads of old, dirty AO1 and AO2 and clean it up. They re-paint all the files, overhead storage units and shelves. They re-fabric all the panels and add fresh laminate to the work surfaces. After they are done the cubicle looks brand new. You can buy remanufactured cubicles at very low cost. They are more expensive than buying straight pre-owend but then again you got new paint, fabric and surfaces.

Herman Miller AO1 truly is the classic cubicle. It was the invention of the century when it comes to the workplace. It has stood the test of time, created multiple industries in and of itself and allowed thousands of industry professionals to fall in love with creating cool, functional office spaces.

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