Importance of Studying Design in the Changing World
As we navigate through the pandemic, the increasing need to prioritise health and safety has brought about a myriad of changes. The work from home culture is gaining respectability. Teaching and learning are evolving while online entertainment and shopping experiences are gaining momentum.
Thus the “new normal” today is inspiring us to design a brighter future.
- As companies encourage employees to work from home there is an unprecedented demand for study tables and chairs. (Times of India, June 2020)
- Average weekly installs of mobile games reached 1.2 billion as downloads increase by 35% from January to March. (Gamesindustry.biz, May 2020)
- Online classes and remote learning have increased the demand for desktops, laptops and tablets from 1 per family to 1 per individual. (Times of India, June 2020)
- Designers in India are evolving towards an e-commerce friendly future for fashion as the pandemic paves the way for sophisticated shopping experiences and fashion consumption. (Vogue, June 2020)
When these news reports are viewed through the eyes of design students – communication, fashion designing , interiors and architecture, the future looks optimistic!
Design in the post pandemic landscape
“As an architect you design for the present, with awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.” Architect Norman Foster
The pandemic has significantly changed our lives, values, habits and lifestyle choices. Its influencing our homes, workspaces and social environment. Our outlook towards large public spaces like airports, hospitals, hotels, offices are also changing. Design today more than ever is intentional and functional while enhancing the quality of our lives and culture.
According to University of Oregon architecture professor Kevin Wymelenberg, “we consume architecture with our eyes but consume indoor spaces with our entire person. We breathe in about 3 billion bacterial cells daily since our indoor environment has different microbiome living there. Building design can mitigate the spread of bacteria and viruses indoors and thus architectural decisions (like placement and size of windows for ready access to fresh air and daylight while reducing excessive exposure to chemicals indoor) need to incorporate this understanding to make spaces healthier for us to work and live in. Also, understanding how viruses behave on porous and non-porous materials like metal, glass, plastic, ceramics, wood, copper and aluminium help to identify the appropriate material to create hygienic living environments.”
The home today is the new office!
This hybrid reality has given rise to designing creative residential with a focus on human centric design. It’s encouraging careful spatial planning and organisation with larger windows, comfortable furniture, separate rooms to work and study. These room ideally need to use smart materials, be technologically equipped with sound insulation, temperature control, proper lighting and house plants. Homes need to be self-sufficient with water and power supply. Also, the need for frequent cleaning and disinfecting requires furniture designers to focus on surface texture and overall form, choose an appropriate material that doesn’t have visible joints, connections or seams.
Offices need redesigning with more public sinks, modular solutions, impressive staircases to encourage their use, incorporate open spaces for natural daylight, fresh air, alternative ventilation systems, touchless technology, products with anti-microbial materials, lighting fixtures, and soothing colours. Simultaneously, there’s a need to look at existing brick and mortar structures and restructure and redesign them to suit present needs. As social distancing is the new norm spaces need to be evaluated based on this criteria.
To ensure that it’s safe for students and teachers to return to school buildings it’s necessary to provide design solutions that cater to their health and safety, reduce overcrowding by converting common areas like cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium. Children in general find it difficult to follow social distancing so, signage in hallways need to be redesigned to encourage safe pathways for them. To reduce exposure, flexible furniture, individual desks with clear glass screens, regular cleaning of desks, classrooms and air filtration, use of technology such as wearable devices or heat sensing cameras are essential.
Hospital design is another important area. Protection control protocols are usually there to protect patients but a pandemic like this literally means that medical personnel, care givers, administration, housekeeping staff also needed to be protected. The rapid spread and unpredictable behaviour of the virus means retrofitting spaces in hospital and medical facilities with spatial markers and visual cues to separate contaminated zones, designing mobile modular hospitals that are quick to manufacture, easily deployable and adapted to expand intensive care capacity as necessary.
The post pandemic landscape clearly shows that to promote human health, building science and interior design matters greatly. It means being mindful about key requirements (need to have vs good to have) and the balance between design decisions and affordability.
Fashion Forward and how
The pandemic is encouraging the fashion industry to re-evaluate its pace, purpose, calendar and trends. The rules of retail are changing with brands relooking at ways to safeguard themselves from disrupted supply chain, delayed unfulfilled customer orders and protecting internal stakeholders. Shopping habits are changing as customers become conscious of their purchases. Skincare, supplements and trans-seasonal comfort clothing are on the rise. Luxury items are being seen as investment with future resale value.
Online shopping is becoming more of a habit. Multi-designer stores are aware of this and changing their buying strategies while attempting to offer personal shopping and styling sessions via video calls, enhancing home shopping experiences, offering discount deals on social media, and collaborating with designers willing to correct their price points to offer a richer experience.
Digital is the Future
With teaching and learning rapidly evolving, Edutech (education technology) is gaining momentum. Technology can play a critical role in the creation and dissemination of educational content and assessment of students. Emerging technologies in the education sector include Flipped Classrooms, Active Learning Classrooms, MOOCs, Collaborative Distance Learning Environments, Online Assessment and Grading, Collaborative Forums, Gamification, Learning Management Systems and EBooks.
Hybrid, Blended and Online Learning (HBO) education through technologies like Blackboard, Kaltura and Impartus along with software like Camtasia, Raptivity, Articulate Storyline and Captivate are being used to create engaging content.
Virtual Reality makes learning immersive while Augmented Reality helps in contextual learning. Artificial Intelligence (AI) too helps make learning more adaptive and personalized. AI driven chatbots, social media platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, podcasts and YouTube can enhance student experience with informal and interactive learning.
The eLearning market size is set to exceed $375 billion by 2026. Rise in the number of internet users, enhanced network connectivity coupled with convenience is driving the market growth. eLearning apps are market disruptors while enterprise systems are useful to manage admissions and academic administrations. Some corporates are now offering interns online opportunities.
The pandemic has increased interest in design that positively impacts socio-emotional learning. Educational institutions like IIAD are rapidly moving towards online platforms to ensure that learning never stops. They’re striving to create a sense of connection and community to combat social isolation while integrating solutions to provide hands-on, experiential and participatory design education.