It was not long ago that many of us were isolated in our homes. We became increasingly aware of how our interior spaces affected our moods, comfort, productivity, and ability to work. As time allows and we adjust to a new norm, our homes and commercial and public spaces will ultimately revolve around new designs that will focus on the importance of personal safety. Here are just a few features that are already taking form in the world of design.
Businesses that rely on brick and mortar stores, restaurants, and offices will become more intentional and purposeful with the division of space to prevent people from feeling closed off or confined. This will lead to more social space, amenities, and designed barriers. Unfortunately, the quick fix when COVID hit was plexiglass, which now serves as a constant reminder of the pandemic.
Think about hotel lobbies. They are typically wide open with different seating groups and partitions designed into space. Many hotel groups choose to go with large resin panels to divide up space with color, patterns, and images that accentuate a room.
Wood, slates, ropes, and sticks are other examples of decorative materials used to inadvertently create separate sections within a room. There are also ways to create open space but still offer privacy such as creating barriers with furniture. Soft, long-backed chairs are higher and can offer an intimate setting without completely cutting people out.
Another emphasis will be placed on materials that are non-porous, easy to clean and reduce the likelihood of infection. Anti-microbial fabrics existed before COVID. What do you think those privacy curtains in hospital rooms are made of? Fabrics that deter the growth of bacteria. Wallcoverings are another design feature that can easily be cleaned. The key is to make sure the cleaning products being used will not impact the color or texture of the material. Here’s the catch. Not every surface in an office, restaurant, hotel, or daycare needs to be anti-microbial. That can encourage surfaces to become immune. Balance is important. Anti-microbial flooring in many instances is not recommended as it’s a secondary surface and can easily and continuously be sanitized.
Experience has shown us that people tend to gravitate towards the outdoors and natural colors. Biophilic design incorporates nature into a built environment that promotes recovery and wellness. Think natural light, living plants and walls, textures, materials, and nature views that enhance a positive impact. Many just don’t realize how much interior design impacts mood, health, well-being, and productivity.
As our personal bubbles grow, so will the space between products in retail stores. People will not be forced to crowd together in social environments. Sort of sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? The significance of interior design will account for mental and physical health through lighting, materials, and flexible layouts. The one thing we can count on is that innovation in interior design will continue to thrive, even in the aftermath of a crisis.
About the Author
Sarah Finch, Interior Designer
Sarah grew up in Frederick, Maryland and moved to the Eastern Shore in 2017. She has been with the Fisher Architecture team since 2018. Sarah loves space planning and making sure clients have the space that is appropriate and conducive to their needs.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have come across a space in my everyday life where things are not properly laid out for the use of the space. Poor design and space planning can cause a whole business to become dysfunctional and in an extreme case can be dangerous,” said Sarah.
She added that good design can affect the well-being of the user and can make a world of difference in their experience and functionality of a space.