The Future for Interior Design: Carry On Carrying On
Carry on, carrying on
Interestingly back in March at the beginning of this pandemic, I prepared for a general recession as business’ were forced to close, adapt and reduce their offer. Interior design is a sector that by its nature is a ‘crowning glory’ and therefore, like public relations and advertising, interior design practice and professional membership fees are areas that are often one of the first to suffer in times of cutbacks. But this is not a recession, it has proven to be a ‘step change’ in the way that everyone will do business in the future.
We have all seen business adjust to comply with government guidelines and we have adjusted to the increased online communications, but I have noted a couple of compelling differences in this silent 21st century war.
We have the phone and the internet, so we have continued to remain in our own self imprisonments as we isolate or ‘bubble’, but it’s also been fascinating to watch everyone adapt as they manage their working day in front of a screen – the internet is now an essential tool and not just a threat as it was often seen by retailers. Digital meeting platforms like Zoom are opening us up to a whole new world of communication. It has been good for many things, but not everything.
Adapting to the changing landscape
I will no longer need to trek across the city to sit in front of someone for a 30 min meeting, when a conversation online is all that is required. I will do it when I need to touch and see samples in person. With more of our lives on social media, we can see more on the homes in which people live. And what a shock that has been! Who knew that so many people lived in such a mess! We see a lot about the personality of people when we peep into their homes – I am so intrigued with the news when government TEAM meetings show interviews of our MPs and Ministers, broadcasters and celebrities…
If we can claim anything positive from the way we have had to live and work due to Covid, it is the positive affect it has brought to interior design – because image in business is everything!
Interior design in this market is booming
Businesses had to implicate social distancing guidelines on how to enter, shop and leave stores; restaurants set out specific social distancing regulations and enhanced hygiene practices – all of which impact on atmosphere, so designers have been busier than ever; working their way through the difficulties to provide a less sterile environment so that customers want to return – and feel safe and comfortable doing so. Atmosphere is all part of commitment and brand loyalty.
But what of the future? Well Covid restrictions look like they will remain in force for the next few months at least, and slowly like other diseases before us, it will be overcome either by scientific solution and resolve or by nature. So what can we learn from it? I have certainly learned to work at a pace that is more structured and less manic. I am able to stop and leave things for another day. There is a calmness generated by those decisions. Of course it’s going to be difficult in the future, but with every negative change comes opportunity and with every opportunity, you see new start-up businesses which excel and existing ones that just happened to be the right thing at the right time …like Zoom!
Impact of emerging lifestyle trends
Fashion lost its relevance because socialising, hair and beauty have dropped in priority, replaced by interest in healthy eating and exercise. A boom in exercise and training clothes will also affect trends in the general way we dress. Casual dress is definitely the most popular look, perhaps even bordering ‘sloppy’. Investors are busily setting up funds for buying property at ‘stressed prices’ ready to reconfigure them to perform different tasks. Boutique hotels, offices and pubs converted to residential use – again, many of which once were homes originally. Shared office space accommodating split, remote and in-office working will change the trust and expectations between employees and employer. The perception of a professional response will not be a consideration of the clothes, hairstyle or location of company premises, but all about the service. Put another way, it’s no longer about the ‘what you look like’ businesses that excel, it will be more based on what they can actually deliver! An interesting shift.
There will always be casualties when change occurs, but I’m watching out for the next opportunity – because whatever it is, I’m sure the profession of interior design had been sufficiently engaged to adapt and embrace it to remain one of the few growth industries generated from such a negative situation as an unprecedented global pandemic.