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The Privacy Screen was developed in Ancient China, possibly as far back as 771 BCE, and was thought to have 1st been used to block a draft in an indoor area. The word “ping” is used as screen, blocking, and “Feng” for the breeze, and wind; not ping pong that we know today. They were just wood panels decorated to work with the room. Eventually, around 206 BCE folding screens were developed into what we see today. Breeze Blocking became view blocking and the decorative panels became art. The use was so utilitarian, the art more beautiful, that many Chinese artists showed their work on them. The popular use of Privacy Screens spread throughout Asia and Europe.
Privacy Screens for Royals
The use of Privacy Screens became architectural and created an image of high status. Like gold, silver, and precious stones used to adorn Royal Throne rooms and meeting halls, Europeans began to impress with their own designs and style. Still popular for everyday use, to block the view of the kitchens, and servant areas, and for ladies to dress behind.
Privacy Screens for work
Work needs focus and direction. Privacy screens were upgraded for industrial commercial use, to protect from hot splashing metals, and burning embers and direct people away from hazardous areas. Also, in the medical field, to keep people from viewing patients and surgical procedures in military or emergency zones. Heat-resistant, medically sterilized materials were used to drape in a metal frame, with sections “ganged” together for easy set-up and storage.
These became very durable and new uses were found, like temporary fences. There is a huge demand for safely keeping the public out of construction zones or personal dwellings. The metal frame can be fortified with chain links and protected view-blocking heavy outdoor mesh. The fencing mesh can keep things out, and block wind and people looking into the area. The evolution of the privacy screen continues.
Offices have used privacy screens for generations to get the same focused views with added sound control. In the temporary settings, wheels were used to help with setup and removal. For office space with desks that did not move, support feet or T-Bases were commonly used for simple vision and light sound control. Padding was added under a fabric covering to make the new screen panels sound absorbent. Privacy Screens became to be known as panels and became popular in the office space. The panels’ defined workspace, kept visual focus, directed traffic, and with fabric padding, sound dampening properties. The T-base feet raised the panels up off the ground and still allowed for airflow to help heat and cool the office space. They also became to be known as office partitions, not the best use of the term as we know about cubicles today.
Privacy Screens Cubicle
The Cubicle, we hate them and miss them again. As office equipment evolved, data/power feeds needed to grow to feed the TECH BEAST. Furniture R/D engineers figured out that panels could house the power and data cables needed to feed desktop computers. They also developed the cantilever bracket, work surface, and panel-hung storage. The desk was evolving into a workstation. Panel “screens” supported worksurfaces, storage, and cables for power and data. By the 1990s the desk was almost gone, like the dinosaurs, and “the dinosaurs” loved the big, hulking, wood drawer holders- expensive $10,000+++ The thing is, that cubicles kept people-focused, visually, audibly, and at a safe social distance.
Privacy Screens NOT
Once again, the finance dept. figured out a new way to save money and put more stress on the workers. The “Open Office Plan” to get rid of cubicles and make the main work floor into a cafeteria-style design. Rows of adjustable tables facing each other and power/data cables in the middle. Noisy, visually distracting, and lots of interruptions. In 2020, these other privacy screens became popular to “help stop the spread”, because “flatten the curve” was a total LIE.
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