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A colorful new take on the cubicle

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Semi-private offices have never looked so good

Pink and yellow semicircle partitions Photo by Marco Covi & RNDR Studio courtesy Arper

What’s your preferred method for blocking out office distractions? Maybe you’re a headphones person. Or perhaps you require more dramatic measures for shutting out your officemates. This week at the Orgatec furniture fair in Cologne, Germany, Italian company Arper is showing off a wild idea for making an open-plan office more bearable, and it just might work: walls.

Yes, walls.

Red, yellow, and orange partitions Photo by Marco Covi & RNDR Studio courtesy Arper

Arper’s new Paravan line is like a modern day cubicle. The series of modular acoustic partitions can be arranged to create pop-up private spaces that look nothing like the drab, gray boxes that have gotten such a bad rap.

Paravan’s sound-absorbing panels come in a variety of shapes and configurations, from semicircles to straight lines. They can can be mixed and matched to create enclosed spaces or act as a simple divider.

Yellow partition with desk Photo by Marco Covi & RNDR Studio courtesy Arper

The concept, we admit, is not exactly groundbreaking. Plenty of designers have tried their hand at updating the cubicle for the modern age. But there’s something about Arper’s shapes and colors—the softly rounded curves inspired by Richard Serra’s sculptures; the warm hues that reference Luis Barragán’s Mexico City architecture—that somehow make us yearn for our own tiny slice of office life.