5 Wacky Retrofuturistic Visions of 21st Century Office Life

If there’s one thing that’s remained constant about the human imagination over the last few centuries, it’s that we dearly love envisioning the future. This endearing human quality was never more pronounced than in the golden age of wacky technology predictions, stretching from approximately the 1930s to the 1960s. The future was wide open and we really had no practical idea of what to expect, so we simply started making up the wildest futuristic scenarios possible.

The future office was a particularly intriguing concept, since it was widely assumed that (thanks to automation) most people would no longer have to work by the 21st century. Therefore, the futuristic office was often populated by one lonely man who spent his day pushing buttons and observing screens full of information.

The style for the office of the future seems to have been that particular type of futuristic where everything has rounded corners and is made of plastic. Luckily for us, most 21st century offices shy away from that aesthetic entirely.

How far off were the predictions for the workplace of yesterday’s tomorrow? Unlike the futuristic drawings and renderings of previous decades, many of us continue to work in the service sector and there are still humans doing manual labor. Most of us are still waiting to be replaced by robots so we can spend every day at the beach.

But the lone person sitting in an office and pressing buttons all day isn’t too far off. Most offices can be staffed by a minimal number of people, and those people do tend to spend a large amount of time watching screens and pressing buttons (or tapping keys). Sadly, the robot assistants and radio-controlled everything are still missing…but we do have Chatroulette, so it kind of evens out.

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See more in Retrofuturistic or under Vintage & Retro. June, 2010.
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