January 20, 2021
It is without question that our world has experienced drastic changes over the past year. Humanity has been required to adapt and cope in various ways, and everyone’s lives have been affected in different ways. There is no doubt that many of the adjustments and changes that we have made, will carry on for the foreseeable future. For example, businesses may continue having many of their employees work from home, sanitary and physical distances procedures may continue, and online shopping may continue to be a favoured method instead of visiting a crowded mall. With the “new normal” in mind, it makes us wonder – how will the methodology of interior design change? How will the use and function of interior spaces change to suit the new way of life? As designers with a passion to learn, the Janks Design Group team has been researching this topic at great lengths to ensure we provide our clients with appropriate and successful design solutions.
Here are various ways that interior design will be altered due to the COVID19 pandemic:
With limitations on travel and socialization, and lots of “down time” these days, people are looking for a space to escape reality and unwind – a space that provides them with a sense of reassurance, calmness, and comfort. Designing spaces that feel like sanctuaries will become a favoured endeavour in both residential and commercial interior design. To do this, interior designers will need to incorporate natural colours/tones, biophilic elements (bring on the plants!) ergonomic furniture, flexible lighting, and sufficient organizational storage. Including elements of biophilia is a must! Plants and natural materials have been proven to stimulate well-being and improve mental health – which we all know has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Adding warm and flexible lighting will allow users to adjust the lighting according to what they are using the space for at that time, or how they are feeling. In addition, many people have spent a significant amount of time de-cluttering and organizing their homes. By including organizational storage solutions in residential design projects, people will be able to continue to appreciate that “less is more” and maintain their de-cluttered home. In short, overstimulating residential and commercial design can be fun (and very instagramable), but after a whirlwind of a year, people will more likely be looking for serenity and tranquility.
With more people working remotely, home-buyers will be looking for a home that has more space, and likely includes an office space. Working from the dining room table just doesn’t cut it – it feels temporary, which is extremely exhausting on mental health, as the individual feels as though they are constantly “on pause”. Including a home office in residential spaces has been phased out over the recent years to save space, but it will be making a strong comeback due to the altered working conditions. An excellent solution to this requirement would be adding a “flex room” to interior design space planning. This space could then be used as a home office that provides a quiet and secluded space that is physically and psychologically separated from the rest of the home. Alternatively, a flex room could also be used as a kid’s playroom, a guest bedroom, or even a home-gym. With childcare, gyms, and other “second home” spaces being affected by the pandemic, many have found themselves transforming the use of spaces in their home depending on their personal needs.
Although working from home will become more common than it was pre-covid, it doesn’t mean that office spaces will become useless. Office culture and team morale is a key element for a positive employee experience. Therefore, offices may turn into social workspaces – where employees gather for team or client meetings, celebrations, and team bonding activities. This makes the design of amenity and social spaces that much more important in commercial design. The individual and focused work will be done at home, while the networking and social aspects of work will be done at the office.
Each culture has a unique sense of “personal space”, but with social-distancing guidelines encouraging 6 feet between individuals, the personal bubble has greatly increased for all. Hugging a friend, dinner parties, and concerts are just some of the activities that have become foreign dreams of the future for many. With this new way of life, comes new social boundaries, an increased awareness of sanitary practices, and possible discomfort in crowded spaces.
With this in mind, interior designers must consider increasing overall space and clearances. In an office environment, spacing desks at least 6 feet apart and providing sanitization stations throughout the workplace will become essential. In retail spaces, sanitization stations may remain a requirement as you enter the store to create safer interactions with products, and displays will be placed further apart to avoid crowding.
Making interior spaces flexible will also allow business owners to adjust their space accordingly based on health guidelines and the common social barriers. Overall, when space planning, interior designers will need to take social distancing requirements into consideration when designing any commercial space.
It is important to note that these social barriers must be subtle. Having yellow arrows that show the direction of travel is not ideal. Instead, designers must use creativity and environmental research to encourage a travel path through layout, finishes, lighting, furniture, and wayfinding in a commercial space.
With the recent increase of hygiene and sanitary standards, interior designers will need to select finishes and furniture that can be easily and constantly cleaned. These materials must be durable enough to sustain harsh chemicals, disinfectants, and cleaning solutions. By providing more opportunities for safe interaction, individual safety will be supported. These opportunities may include touchless faucets, smart toilets, germ-resistant materials, and additional hands-free/voice-activated technology when possible.
Interior designers should specify antibacterial materials where possible, and especially on surfaces that are touched often (i.e. door handles, faucets, chair arms). Materials that are easy to clean include metals, quartz, and specific wood species with antibacterial characteristics such as bamboo, oak, and cork stop.
With a “new normal” comes newly required space. Many people are cooking at home more than usual, and therefore may require more storage and counter space. A larger kitchen may become more desirable for those who have found a new love for cooking and baking.
Online shopping has also significantly increased during the pandemic. With more parcel deliveries arriving at condominium and commercial buildings, many have found a lack of storage for these deliveries in lobbies and common areas. In fact, this increase of parcels and lack of storage has led to many thefts as well. Interior designers can keep this in mind moving forward, and suggest to clients that they consider incorporating a secure parcel storage area in their space. Supplying a package recycling unit is also a great addition for these areas.
The impacts of COVID19 will follow us all for the coming years, but we all have the ability to take this experience and learn from it to move forward in a safe and successful way. As interior designers, it is our responsibility to design a space that supports the success of the business, the staff, and the users. Therefore, it is our duty to design responsibly and take into consideration the factors discussed in this blog. We hope that you find this information and newfound lessons helpful!
Cheers! To a healthy and safe new year!