2020, a year defined by the pandemic. No one was expecting a complete lockdown, COVID-19 came out of nowhere. Most people were obsessing over their next vacation, travel, and life was good. The COVID-19 Pandemic has placed a new blanket of caution on the world. Self isolation is the new normal. Healthcare professionals (and grocery store workers) are superheroes. We must all stay home for the sake of humanity.
Is this sustainable? What does this mean for the world of design? First of all, new makeshift healthcare facilities are needed, hotels are becoming shelters or places for more beds for the sick or healthcare workers. Airbnb has owners scrambling to rent properties monthly. Tourism is dead. The future of office design is debatable and home offices and backyards are seeing a lot more attention.
Here are a few things the design world can do to make things a little better:
Use copper. Copper kills bacteria. According to multiple sources and this article by Mark Wilson, a writer from Fast Company "When influenzas, bacteria like E. coli, superbugs like MRSA, or even corona viruses land on most hard surfaces, they can live for up to four to five days. But when they land on copper, and copper alloys like brass, they begin to die within minutes and are undetectable within hours."
“We’ve seen viruses just blow apart,” says Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton. “They land on copper and it just degrades them.”
No wonder that in India, people have been drinking out of copper cups for millennia. Even in the US and Canada, a copper line are accepted materials to bring in drinking water. Copper is a natural, passive, antimicrobial material. It can self-sterilize its surface without the need for electricity or bleach."
Copper has been pushed out of many building applications because of new materials like plastics, PVC, and stainless steel. It’s time to bring copper for anything from door lever handles, knobs, cabinets, kicks or counter tops.
“even when tarnished, brass—an alloy typically of 67% copper and 33% zinc—[kills bacteria], while stainless steel—about 88% iron and 12% chromium—does little to impede bacterial growth.” “If your hospital is being renovated, try to retain old brass hardware"
Another school of thought: spaces that look clean, feel clean. According to HGTV "white subway tiles may make you feel as though your kitchen is a more hygienic place to prepare food. In the late 19th century, as people were beginning to understand how infectious diseases spread, public buildings--hospitals in particular—installed white tiles so workers could immediately spot any dirt or grime, and easily wipe it clean." This trend has been happening for years and it's not slowing down.
Sleeping Porches: Historically, there is has usually been a room protruding from the second floor of a Victorian house. This is called a sleeping porch. "sleeping porches became popular during the tuberculosis epidemic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In a time before antibiotics, sunlight and fresh air were the best-known “cures” for the deadly disease. " Outdoor spaces are going to become even more important then before. Landscape design, gardening, decks and patio furniture are going to become very important for everyone this summer.
Residential design will see a shift toward creating more functional spaces for families and individuals trying to stay home and make their homes as comfortable as possible. As well creating spaces that can be used for homeschooling. Technology is key. Incorporating screens into home design in a non-obtrusive way is something that will be important in the future of design. Samsung Frame has a good design for a smart screen that doubles as a piece of art in your home.