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Industry Literature: Cubed by Nikil Saval

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Last month I read a book called The Future of Work, where Jacob Morgan discusses how some of today’s most progressive companies are rethinking their workforce to achieve optimal performance in the 21st Century. As a followup companion read, I’ve been delving into this book called Cubed by an editorial scholar named Nikil Saval. Appropriately, while the previous book I read looks into the future of work, Cubed looks at the history of work, and dissects the evolution of corporate real estate as we know it today. Truly a fascinating read.

Cubed starts its historical accounts from roughly the industrial revolution. A few references were made to even earlier times, but for the most part the history of the modern day workforce begins with the industrial revolution. What Nikil refers to as the “clerking class”, the original white collar workers at the time when most of the workforce were still farmers and craftsmen, begins the history of the modern day office.

In the few pages devoted to pre-industrial economies, the book describes these clerking class workers as outcast dandies that society deemed as doing no “real man’s work”, that was until the industrial revolution. The prestige of being “white collar” truly began to stand out when most of the societal workforce began occupying the production lines. At this point, no longer was it a matter of crafting / working-the-land vs. doing ephemeral paperwork, but rather it became whether one worked in an office upstairs vs laboring on the factory floors.

Cubed traces the history of work mainly through this perspective of white collared work. Factories becoming skyscrapers, the evolving role of women, the evolutions of influential management theories, and perhaps most significantly, the adaptive aesthetics of office designs. It’s a bit of a long book at well over 300 pages, but the subject matters are incredibly well written and frankly, at least as far as I know, there aren’t that many book out there that cover this uniquely niche subject matter with the level of interest that Nikil Saval covers it in this book.

I’m always in the process of formulating my comprehension of what events mean within context of there being an Events Industry. As I’ve been saying in all my perhaps seemingly random articles that deal with workplace, I do have this very strong notion in my mind that the same principles that dictate good workplace design should logically also overlap tremendously with the principles that dictate good event design. There is, after all, an ever-convenient niche of event professionals specializing in this thing called corporate events, which deals with all sorts of meetings, conferences, trade shows, product launches, and other exhibition and PR related events.

This I do know from the events industry, though on the flip side, I must admit that besides personal fascination I know very little about the actual industry behind the corporate real estate side of this equation. As such, Cubed has been a book that enlightened me quite a bit on the subject. It’s fascinating because it reaffirms my ongoing notion that event design and workplace design ought to be related disciplines; not in the sense that the book makes this comparison directly, but in the sense that it demonstrates much of the human aspects behind the evolution of the way society’s workplace has evolved.

See you at the next exploration!

Harry

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