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We got to a really great place in design as we entered 2020.  Nature was a critical part of designing a space and our need for nature intersected brilliantly with progressive designers and their visions for the future of building.  Sustainable and circular design were the topics du jour and education providers, including us, were rolling out courses on designing using Biophilic principles and Designing for Circularity.  The beauty of nature was inherent in our designs and our affiliation with the natural world was an integral part of how spaces were being laid out and what elements, orientations, colors, and materials were being used.

Nature, Health, and Design all intersected beautifully.

Then the world hit pause.

And we have stopped and reconsidered our lives, our homes, our offices, our spaces and everything surrounding us.  We are imagining and creating a new world to go back to that protects us more than the one we left.  Words like mask, sneeze guard, PPE, and dividers are commonplace in the world that we will return to, hopefully soon.

Spaces must evolve to accommodate social distancing and viral spread.  Will we lose all the design progress that we have made in order to accommodate these protective measures?

We hope not.  What we have seen over the past six weeks with masks may be an indicator.  Initially, antiseptic looking white N-95 masks plagued the airwaves, and soon the standard pale blue, over the ear mask became a regular topic.  Then, when we started talking about wearing masks in public, the internet clamored to provide us with patterns and DIY templates, and suddenly the unfathomable concept of wearing a mask in public became a fashion statement.  

Colorful, custom masks emerged, people became seamstresses and designers, seemingly overnight, and a beautiful, effective and potentially life-saving design system emerged.

So, too, can the spaces we go back to.  Designers are creative and thoughtful, and it will be hard to get them to abandon their passions for plexiglass, when there are so many more creating and beautiful options out there.   Product companies need to be open about the features of their products so that designers can find the right materials needed to form these protective spaces, pods, or pathways that will need to be incorporated into existing buildings and designed from the ground up for new ones. 

If we have to create space between people, can that space be made beautiful so that it does not feel like a punishment?  Can it be colorful, shaped, and perform: maybe acoustical treatments?

If our surfaces need to be swapped out for something more sanitary, can it be colorful, seamless, and beautiful?  Can we give each space it’s own color or identity to make it feel like our own, rather than a relegated confine like everyone else’s?

The challenge designers will face will be to make this new design environment feel like progress not punishment.  Thoughtful layouts and choosing the right products can bridge that gap.  As we migrate back to our spaces, let’s preserve that connection to nature, evolve our focus on health, and wrap them both in thoughtful, creative design.

We want to hear from you. How do you think COVID has shaped the future of creativity in design? Designers, what trends are you seeing emerging and what creative solutions do you find yourselves creating? Contact us and share your thoughts.

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