Theory Studies: Archetypical Workplace Practices In Contemporary Interior Design

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This thesis focuses on identifying, classifying and naming of unnamed workplace archetypes in contemporary interiors that are derived from reiterative historical designs. The study is a component of the Intypes (Interior Archetypes) Research and Teaching Project established in 1997 at Cornell University. An Intype is an ideal example of a historically determined design strategy from which similar models are derived, emulated or reiterated. The modern office develops in the late 19th century and has demonstrated significant design evolutions throughout its short history, spanning little over one century. While much research has been done on the design of workplace environments, there exists a large disconnect between the study of workplaces from a management or environmental psychology perspective and a purely aesthetic or stylistic perspective. Additionally, a comprehensive knowledge of workplace design strategy is rarely integrated into professional practice, nor is it part of most design curriculums. This study creates a typology of the professional design practices of workplace environments. The study identifies and documents workplace design strategies that are repeated through time. A vocabulary for teaching and comparative analysis is created through this study and offers practice-based research in the hopes of encouraging greater design discourse and criticism in academia as well as professional practice. Ten workplace Intypes are discussed in this thesis. Five previously identified Intypes are reexamined and applied to the workplace setting - Slat, Frame, Marching Order, White Box, and Light Seam. Five new workplace-specific Intypes were identified and named - 1 Bar 2, Face to Face, Incubate, Pompidou, and Dual Desk. Each typology was examined through a comprehensive survey of primary and secondary sources and describes a practice's characteristics traced back historically. Most of the Intypes trace back to the mid-20th century when office spaces began receiving significantly more attention in trade publications. One Intype, Marching Order, may be traced back to the earliest days of modern office design. All identified Intypes remain relevant in current workplace design practice. The workplace Intypes developed in this thesis encompass numerous aspects of the office environment including material, lighting, object, and spatial applications. In addition to this thesis, Workplace Intypes will be disseminated through the free and open website - - a web-based research and teaching site that makes design history and contemporary practice accessible to academics, professional and students. ii

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Design & Environmental Analysis; Intypes; Interior Design


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Jennings, Jan

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Hua, Ying
Gibson, Kathleen Joan

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M.A., Design

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Master of Arts

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dissertation or thesis

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