Hardly Working or Artisanal Cubicling?

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Just when you thought it was safe to go to work without the dreaded scourge of artisanal hunkering down and making itself at home in your workspace, oops, there it is. Artisanal cubicles, welcome to the year 2012. No matter that we killed off Artisanal months ago. Artisanal is now undead, which means, it wants to make your stapler poppy and fresh and stick a twee bird on your wall as you scream in horror. For Bloomberg Businessweek, Marina Khidekel reports from the front lines, where the binders are adorable: 

Once content with yellow Post-it notes and the rogue family photo as their sole pieces of cubicle flair, office workers are turning their design-minded, Pinterest- and Instagram (FB)-obsessed focus to their actual desktops. No longer the domain of creative fields such as graphic design and advertising or willfully eccentric software startups, the curated workspace is going mass market.

Glarghghhghg. This movement includes really sweet "modernist staplers, pens, notebooks, and other work supplies in a rainbow of pop-art hues" from a company called Poppin that promises "workstyle products.” Glarghghhghg. Can't anything just be ugly and boring and industrial and personality-less anymore? No! The people want fun. Per Khidekel, "Poppin Chief Executive Officer Randy Nicolau and founder J. Christopher Burch (co-founder of the Tory Burch fashion label) noticed an opening. 'We saw this need out there. People were saying, ‘Why should I have a fun home space but a bland-looking desk?... It’s like if you’ve been wearing mom jeans this whole time, and then you’re shown a pair of stylish jeans. You say, ‘I can do better than this.’”

It's a veritable slippery slope, to paraphrase Jonathan Adler, who imagines a world of keeping up with the cubicle-Joneses and one-upmanship. Just think of cubicle competitions abounding, with CEOs and managers awarding perks and honors on those with the most stylish workplace abodes. O.K., perhaps I'm bitter. We've seen my Twitter image, right? Right now I'm sitting amid some 100 books stacked precariously around me, with crumpled old Post-Its with faded messages and half-empty bottles of not-even-artisanal water from goodness knows when scattered about to and fro. There's a phone that's not even plugged in, some gum, a pile of ancient deli chips. So, yeah, it could be better. But still. Is the "artisanal cubicle" what we've become? Is this our destiny as human workpeople?

“This movement is starting to get huge,” agrees Sayeh Pezeshki, a 26-year-old former insurance agent who runs the blog the Office Stylist. Pezeshki also offers in-person and online interior design services for workspaces. “People are realizing they spend all their time at work—so why treat it like a forgotten basement?”

Then the researchers weigh in. You do better and feel better in "empowered" workspaces where you can design your own look! Such people are more motivated, more successful, happier, less a cog in a wheel than a real human being worthy of respect and positive treatment and most of all more productive (when they're not, of course, redecorating their workspace).

We're going to have to be frank here. This is what your "artisanal cubicle" says about you: You need more work to do. Unless you are Marina Khidekel, in which case, congratulations. We give up. You win. "Artisanal cubicle" is a thing now. Can we at least portmanteau it and call it a "cuticle"? Whatever. Send photos of your own! 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.