At Leslie Saul & Associates, our architectural and interior design practice includes quite a lot of work with corporate spaces.

We’ve been doing this for quite a while, now, and it’s interesting to see the changes in the way working spaces have evolved over time.

One of the big breakthroughs in creating a workplace that was not only efficient, but also comfortable and visually appealing was the Johnson Wax Building, completed in 1939. We’d very much like to take credit for the design, but we can’t. The architect was a fellow named Frank Lloyd Wright, who apparently was popular at the time. And yes, we’ve been around a while, but not that long.

The building features open desks in a large, well lighted “Great Workroom”. Notice how the desks themselves, with the curved edges, seem ahead of their time. And though the room is actually rather densely populated, it certainly doesn’t look like it feels crowded.

Johnson Wax office

But the open plan idea didn’t really take off– at least not in the spectacular way Wright created. For many years, even well-designed office spaces mostly included enclosed rooms, lined up ad infinitum along long passageways. Open spaces were just for the “typing pool”.

Finally, open spaces returned to corporate spaces, with the addition of”office systems” of modular partitions, desks and shelving. It offers tremendous flexibility in a world where the needs of businesses are constantly changing. The low partitions also provide a balance between privacy and interaction.

This an office project Leslie Saul & Associates worked on in 2008.

Enclosed offices have undergone a transformation, too, with more consideration for openness and interaction. Space is now more negotiable and flexible. This photo is from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) headquarters in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts. Leslie Saul & Associates collaborated with designLAB Architects on the project.

The IFAW headquarters also feature open desks and dramatic lighting. Lots of light and a feeling of spaciousness makes for a very comfortable, visually appealing and productive work place. (Wait.  Open desks? Visually appealing? Didn’t we mention that earlier?)

And it seems we’ve finally caught up with Frank Lloyd Wright, as this Knoll open plan office shows.

Contact Leslie Saul & Associates for your next interior design or architectural project in the Boston area.