How should designers adapt post-pandemic?

Who would have thought in January this year we would have a new government – landslide vote, a month later, the world hit with a virus spreading faster and as fatal as the plague, whilst heading towards Brexit. It’s only July! Well, how fast we all bounce back – we adapted to self-isolating, working from home, restructuring business and are in the process of innovating our way out of a future recession.

We have watched more TV and eaten more food than usual, but what have we learned about ourselves and those around us? Working from home, the garden, the bedroom and in these wonderful days of summer – even boats! So the question is, why didn’t we do it before, even though we have had the technology for years?

I know I am not going to travel so much more in the future, and although we had the technology, I suppose it’s a bit like all the facilities and apps on our phones, dishwashers, cars… we just don’t use it. Well I will now! I am also putting me first more. I’m inspired to take care of my health, so I took an hour every day to walk to work and out and about instead of driving. I admit it was easier with less traffic and less emails, phone calls and no events or dinners to attend but, I started to enjoy the peace again. I prefer the slower pace to think about decisions and actions which, pre-lockdown, I didn’t always have the luxury of time to consider. The time to think about issues and reason a variety of scenarios provides for greater insight and conclusion. I think over the past decade time – or the lack of it – eroded away and I for one was definitely making decisions on the hoof, that is to say the ‘immediate response’, not the broader picture – so I am grateful for the benefits that lockdown has provided me personally.

I actually used my kitchen, and for the first time in my life – I made an apple pie! I’m not saying it was nice, but it certainly looked great! I even made scones (which were great), so I realised that I can do things I previously didn’t enjoy doing because I simply didn’t have time. A bit like a good interior design outcome! Rush it and it will get average results –  it will look okay, but it will never be amazing.

Business in the interior design sector will continue now as usual because projects are in transit, but what about the future?

What changes should designers adopt urgently?

Designers look ahead; they direct and guide their clients but they also create trends, are bold with colour and they use crazy things in unusual locations that function in different ways – designers are definitely wired differently. So in these very fast-moving days ahead, what other industry is more prepared to adapt, adjust, inspire, create and make money for investors more than the interior design industry? Possibly only IT, medicine and maybe sport but in creativity – it’s just interior design and tech. At last we have leverage! We have online technology, yet we still need to touch and feel those new products – online alone just won’t cut it for product sourcing and specification. Looking at how light reflects upon items, how texture feels, how colours shock and blend, how soft, strong or plush an item is. I could go on, but those in the industry who are not an interior designer may not get it – you simply cannot achieve the ‘emotion’ that creates design merely from an image on a screen – nonetheless, we have finally launched the Society of British and International Interior Design‘s 3-years in building, trade-only platform, SBIDPro! The portal connects buyers and sellers all-year-long with a tool for product sourcing in a very unusual way. But of course it’s a member benefit and of course we will continue to host the SBID Meet The Buyer annual event.

Meanwhile, I see the trade magazines are in print again and we are all working as usual (almost) again.

During the lockdown my entire SBID team worked as usual, we just did it remotely and we love it so we will review continuance in January 2021 with a skeleton staff present at the office rotating days and I think it will work. If it does there are so many additional choices to be considered. So adding Brexit, work life balance and work location – I think we have an improved method and process in which to do business. Now all that is needed, is the future business! And that, I’m really looking forward too!