Coronavirus is here to stay - Bad design isn't!
2021… We made it!!!
Although we find ourselves confined to extended lockdowns, It’s a new year and there are many reasons to feel triumphant! We have taken away many lessons from what was one of the most hellish yet prolific years of our lifetime and as we continue to navigate through what is now familiar territory, we do so with strength and a growing understanding that although some things are here to stay, it won’t always be this way.
In late December, Dr Mike Ryan, Head of the World Health Organisation's Emergencies Program, sounded the alarm saying the “destiny” of Covid-19 was to become “endemic.” Meaning that moving forward it is likely to be (a disease or condition) regularly found among people and something we will not be able to eradicate and therefore will have to live with. He also stated that we must use our collective shift in circumstances to commit to change and positively enhancing the world.
“This is a wake up call, we are learning now how to do things better. How to do Science better, how to do Logistics better…” and the same must be said for our community, we must do Design better!
With the vaccine rolling out we are already seeing a significant increase in businesses reaching out to us, to implement additional precautions and ensure the defence of their workforce, as they return to work. It is recognised that products once seen as suitable temporary solutions are no longer viable. Businesses are looking for longer-term protective solutions and expect them to that adhere much more closely to the Dieter Rams design principles:
* Innovative *Usefulness * Aesthetically Pleasing *Self-Explanatory * Non-Intrusive
* Honest * Long Lasting *Well Considered * Environmentally Friendly * Effortless
CoVis One, by NU-London.
Let's be clear, these are demands that are increasingly sought after beyond the Furniture and Design industry. Over the last year we have seen many knee-jerk temporary solutions created or popularised due to the pandemic and below we have noted some of the more exciting concepts that we have seen progress throughout industries such as: Fashion, Automotive, Textile and Home.
Like with face masks, initially we saw an influx of people designing DIY products, however concerns were raised as the NCBI (National Centre for Biotechnology Information) noted that guidelines for their use and standards for their manufacture vary widely - Therefore they were to be seen as adjunctive personal protective equipment.
Earlier styles were not typically recycled, were created for short-term use and therefore causing headaches, they aren't particularly 'pretty' and having predominantly been designed for 1x use (plus human neglect) we saw an increased pollution hazard. Various retailers then began producing styles to co-ordinate with style and back in September last year, we saw Louis Vuitton release The LV Shield, a high fashion visor that can work as either a cap or face shield.
The LV Shield, by Louis Vuitton.
A personal favourite example of elevated design, has to be this Vue Shield - Worn just like glasses with an ultra lightweight design that sits comfortably on the face and feature an all-over UVA and UVB coating. They come in a variety of unisex styles and all have anti-fog coatings to minimise the impact of climate conditions.
Vue Shield by Joe Doucet.
Transport & Public Seating:
Whilst we have suffered a considerable loss of social time, a multitude of industries have been drastically affected during the pandemic. Public transport and restaurants are just two examples of where spaces are sectioned off to prohibit interaction, whilst medical institutes and air transport have been using coverings as protection. Unfortunately although easily sanitised these methods of protection are easily damaged and have a short life-span, plus with the additional plastic production we will inevitably see more harm than good. However, Layer design studio have a solution... Sequel: Premium seating that entices clientele back to the entertainment sector in a post-covid world.
Sequel Seat by Layer.
"The seat boasts a number of innovative features, including integrated speakers and LEDs that display the booking name on the headrest, removable protective screens, and in-built UV lighting to sterilise both the storage compartments and the seat itself. The 3D knitted fabric upholstery is hydrophobic, incorporates antibacterial copper threads and is seamlessly woven to eliminate crevices that may act as dirt traps." - Layer
Although Sequel is an example directed at entertainment furniture a collaboration with a brand such as Hindu would elevate the concept to work in a magnitude of other interior scenarios, such as: co-working spaces, receptions, dining areas, lounges, transport and much more.
Hindu are a Portuguese technical textiles company, who use a Swiss technology to dye and infuse almost all interior materials and fabrics (ranging from soft seating to panels) with Protect - A solution that is specifically designed to fight bacteria and viruses and is certified to the kill the coronavirus. Hindu also aim to, reduce the ecological footprint across all production processes, with focus on reducing water consumption and its conscious use.
Protect by Hindu.
(For further information, contact - firstname.lastname@example.org)
Working From Home (WFH)
One of the most significant insights to come out of this last year would be, how much we took for granted just what actually goes into ensuring our comfort whilst at work. Neck injuries and back pains saw a staggering increase and this is simply due to the negligence of the appropriate WFH setup. Charity 'Versus Arthritis' called on firms to encourage their staff to be more open about their home working needs, after it found 89% of those suffering with pains and stress to their body as a result of their new workspace had not told their employer about it. Lower back pain was the most common complaint identified by the charity’s survey, with 50% of respondents reporting this, followed by neck pain (36%) and shoulder pain (28%).
“People are reluctant to talk to their employers about their health needs because they don’t know their rights or are worried about job security. Employers and government must do much more to make sure workers know what they’re entitled to and feel comfortable asking for it.” - Tracy Loftis, Head of Policy at Versus Arthritis.
Over this time, the Furniture and Design community have shared some invaluable knowledge that benefits our wellbeing and as its predicted that WFH will be much more standardised for the future, it is imperative that we are equipped with tools for the job (particularly where ergonomics are concerned!)
Colebrook Bosson Saunders were on deck to provide solutions for better posture and continuously released guides on best practises whilst working from home.
LapTop Stand by Colebrook Bosson Saunders.
The Capisco chair has seen a welcomed returned to the spotlight, as it's unique design is as relevant as ever in the world of furniture. Inspired by a horseback rider’s posture, its pioneering saddle seat and overall unique shape, offers endless ways to sit or half stand, which encourages you to vary your position.
Capisco by HÅG - Flokk
Having been around for over three decades, Capisco is a true testament to great design and it should come as no surprise that it delivers on all of the design principles noted earlier.
A return to this type of innovation is the biggest 'win' that we will see come out of the pandemic. People have time to stop and rethink the world and invest in it, instead of releasing product after product after product, after product. We may still face some scary times ahead, but we have many exciting times to also look forward to.
Coronavirus is here to stay, bad design isn't!