Design challenges in the new normal

Pandemic scares are something we will have to get used to in the future, according to researchers. Yet we have realized that we cannot close down society if we want to survive in the long term. We have already begun to adapt. One of the most important needs we have is to feel safe, and this brings us face to face with several challenges.

Companies in many fields have discovered that combining medial communication and physical delivery retains customers. Chefs, architects and designers are more visible on social media. They virtually project themselves into our homes. In the meantime, surfaces and locations are being redesigned and adapted to make it easier for people to visit and participate in new experiences in new ways.

Creating a feeling of cleanliness has demanded new cleaning and sterilization routines but also public announcements about the premises being made safe for employees and customers. Continual adaptation is necessary to help employees and visitors relate as new behaviors arise. Previously, companies that needed sterilized surfaces, such as doctor’s offices, had stark, brightly lit and rigid space solutions. We may associate that with safety, but it really doesn’t need to be that way. The challenge is to design an attractive environment that is pleasant yet feels safe. Cleanliness need not rule out pleasantness. WeWork sells flexible offices that have focused on the health and safety of users and have managed to express cleanliness without disrupting the design. The company uses its media channels to inform employees about how often offices are cleaned and disinfected, about hygiene stations, furniture placement, reconfigured meeting rooms, purified air and preferred new behaviors and flows.

Cleanliness, dedensified space and increased distancing are necessary when we start to share work space again. Intuitive guiding that helps visitors make their way around a building is a design challenge that needs to be integrated.

Working from home has allowed those who live outside the city center to go outdoors for walks. People now think more about being outdoors and maintaining health when they budget their leisure and work time. Downtown offices create challenges for architects to draw buildings that have a greater focus on wellness and everything that relates to that. To be noticed, buildings need not only to integrate plants and nonsynthetic materials but also create urban spaces with a more authentic access to nature.

The shift toward integrating sensor technology into buildings was already under way before the COVID pandemic and is now more important than ever. It’s about space that understands our behaviors. Creating new environmental systems that can nudge inhabitants toward safer behavior, while they are transparent about how data is gathered and used—this matters for people to feel safe. Doors that recognize who is approaching and open on their own, voice-activated coffeemakers, automatic air filtering, facial recognition, sensors that count the number of people in a room and alarm when there are too many, and remote controls—these are all adaptations that keep us from handling things but also make our lives easier.

Design is not just about making something pretty. It is about intuitive behavior, comfort and, above all, feeling safe. We are proud of the knowledge of our many years, our attention to detail and our cooperation with furniture designers and architects. Our furniture adapts in both design and quality to address the need to create new office environments. We sell a range of design furniture to create rooms within rooms or new flows. If you are wondering about how to face these issues or are interested in hearing some of our valuable insights, please let us know.

Sources: Frame, WeWork

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