A Brief History Of The Office & Office Furniture – Part 2
Office Desk Evolution
Before the invention of the printing press, all books and literature had to be copied by hand. It is widely thought that the Chinese invented paper possibly as early as 100BC.
The constituents of this early paper was quickly improved upon and people were probably using it for writing within a few years.
Therefore we can safely assume that some form of writing desk would probably have evolved at the same time. So the desk or bureau has been with us for at least 2000 years.
Before the moveable type printing press appeared in the 15th Century, text was hand printed with blocks or written by hand. This led to the evolution of desks with special slots and spaces for writing instruments and tools.
The first recorded mention of writing deskes in England was around 1450. These early desks were little more than portable boxes with a sloping, hinged lid used for writing.
Bureaus began to be imported from Europe and were widely used by the upper classes and aristocracy, mainly for writing letters. Bureaus also had sloping, hinged lids which could be pulled down for writing on and for storage inside.
Circa Late 17th Century
After the bureau came the Bureau Cylinder and Roll-Top Bureau, both from France. The Cylinder Desk had a curved wooden lid that rotated inside the desk when open.
The Roll Top had a lid made from slats of wood glued to cloth which allowed the lid to also be pushed inside the desk to reveal the writing space and storage inside.
Around about 1700, the first proper desks appeared with knee space that we are familiar with today.
These were called Knee Hole Writing Tables and allowed the user to be able to write at the desk without compromising comfort, storage or freedom of movement.
The Victorians advanced the design of the office desk still further with their pedestal desks which generally had large flat, stretched leather writing surfaces with plenty of drawer storage space and legroom.
By 1900, in the US alone there were around 100,000 people working in offices in clerical and administrative roles.
With the rise of the white collar worker, innovations in ergonomic office furniture design and space planning was essential. This led to many advances in the workspace including steel mass produced desks, filing cabinets and creative office layouts.
Ultimately, this all leads us to the present day where ergonomics, cable management and flexible, modular office furniture are paramount in modern day working environments.
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A Brief History Of The Office & Office Furniture – Part 1