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Coronavirus: The World’s Design Response To The Pandemic

Design Trends

As coronavirus has spread through the U.S. and around the globe, employees have heeded the government’s “stay-at-home” orders, using at-home offices, spare bedrooms, kitchen counters and dining room tables as makeshift work stations. But as many states have started a phased re-opening of their economies, we’re nearing a time when employees and employers will be returning to brick and mortar workplaces and office buildings. The question remains though, how best to design or redesign these spaces knowing that social-distancing tactics and an increased emphasis on sanitation will be a new way of life for the foreseeable future. What will be the lasting design effects from coronavirus?

Commercial Design Response To Coronavirus
The virus’s spread has already impacted design in some ways. Grocery store chains such as Walmart and Kroger, reports CNN, are already using enhanced wayfinding with one-way only aisles and checkout lanes limiting the amount of people that cross paths and controlling the flow of foot traffic in their stores.


Immune-Boosting Tactics
Scandinavian design has always been cutting edge. So as we look to a post-coronavirus world, it comes as no surprise that an early submission into imagining the look of our brave new world came out of The Netherlands. The Netherlands-based office of real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield recently unveiled the 6 Feet Office a concept to aid in encouraging physical distance between coworkers from an office lobby all the way to each employee’s individual desks. The commercial design concept utilizes extensive way-finding, large visual cues, and unique routing to help employees maintain six feet of personal space.

When it comes to the commercial design response to COVID-19, Dunn-Edwards’ color expert and stylist Sara McLean notes that we’re going to see a lot more products featuring protective features, whether it be for mind, body or soul. “Anticipate protective qualities such as anti-microbial features, clean/nature-centric; immune-boosting; sustainable ingredients; and materials and textures that are usually reserved for first responders available in a wider range of products,” McLean stated.



COVID-19 Commercial Color Trends
Color also impacts how we interact with a commercial space the decision around whether we think it’s clean, whether we feel comfortable and calm within while working or visiting. Grounding colors that are comforting and nature-centric, notes McLean, will continue to trend. “Greens and browns, along with comfy oranges and sunset hues have been trending, and will be accelerated,” she stated.


Residential Design Response To Coronavirus
Creative design solutions are cropping up all over the place. UK-based architecture firm Scott Brownrigg has designed a Social Contact Pod, a prefabricated perspex divider that would allow people to meet with vulnerable loved ones without the risk of spreading the virus, Dezeen Magazine reports. Even better, the Contact Pod is part of the ever-growing slew of products and tools allowing architects and designers to build with environmental-sustainability in mind. “Importantly, it’s been designed to be fully sustainable so that pods can be repurposed or recycled with relative ease when they are, hopefully, no longer needed,” Scott Brownrigg told Dezeen.

Goodbye To Open Floor Plans?


New York has been one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 here in the U.S. Several New York-based architects recently spoke with Dwell, including Joel Sanders of JSA Architects and Morris Adjmi, about how design will react to pandemic. Both foresee hygiene concerns finding their way into home design. Sanders predicts "safe" rooms to isolate those contagious in at home, while Adjmi believes we may start to see a return to traditional or closed floor plans as homeowners look for compartmentalized spaces. He predicts the return of foyers, albeit ones with a washing station so that the space may be used as a decontamination area upon entry.


COVID-19 Residential Color Trends
When it comes to color at home, bright colors will also surge. “Bright hues have been influenced by youth culture movements. Now, the range of bright hues reflect emotional connections that we’ve been craving childhood nostalgia and joy and energy, which we need and will seek once we are out of the home,” notes McLean. Our 2020 color + design trend story Playtime emphasized these cultural trends. In the time of coronavirus we’ve taken a deeper dive into the research to confirm and update our color + design trend message. See how escapism, wonder, and our immersion into a truly digital reality are proving Playtime’s bright hues, essential.


As design rises to meet the complications of living in a post-COVID world, we can take solace in the ways design and color have co-created environments of calm, health and wellness.