Collaborative office furniture may seem like a relatively new trend, but believe it or not, its roots are three-quarters of a century deep. The first open plan offices are thought to have been born in 1950s Germany, conceived by a professional team from Hamburg that wanted to improve communication between workers and encourage ideas to flow. It was slow growth from there, as the 1980s gave way to the cubicle culture that pervaded the Western workplace for more than 30 years. But once the tech boom of the 1990s and 2000s really took off, so did the popularity of open plan offices – and, subsequently, collaborative office furniture.
The tech companies that made open plan offices popular favored the floorplan for its symbolic portrayal of a common mission among their organizations. They liked the idea of helping their employees feel like they were a part of a markedly more laid-back, creative and forward-thinking enterprise – and for a time, they succeeded. But eventually, they hit stagnation because they didn’t have collaborative office furniture that was compatible enough with the open plan designs of their offices.
When CBI Office was founded in 1983 in Sheffield, England, collaborative office furniture was a relatively new concept – but once we introduced our products to the States, it had already taken off and we found ourselves with a new audience hungry for fresh designs. Of course, we gave it to them! CBI Office is proud of our place in the history of open plan offices, and we look forward to many more years of partnering with the manufacturers who are making some of the best collaborative office furniture on the market today.
Take the time to browse the selections here, particularly the photos in our gallery. You’ll find some of the best collaborative office furniture you’ve ever seen.