The crisis produced by Covid-19 has changed the way people interact in different spaces: from home to the office, and small commerce or retail. And within this mandatory change, some of Spain's most international interior designers are reflecting on the possibilities opening to a new cross-sectional design which will need to integrate space versatility with hygiene and even spaces dedicated to experiencing.
This is the case of Ramón Esteve, who, with regard to the new home space, states that "we are going to bet on space versatility. Home design is going to have to respond to the needs for privacy and intimacy, taking into account all its inhabitants, especially with regard to teleworking, and terraces and balconies are going to be revalued."
On the other hand, for Héctor Ruiz Velázquez, it has become clear that "many of our homes are not designed to live in them for long periods of time without psychologically affecting their inhabitants.” For him, apart from functional and aesthetic aspects, "we must pay special attention to the ergonomics implemented in our homes."
With regard to the retail stores for Ramón Esteve this crisis: "Has given us the push that we needed to consolidate online shopping and, therefore, retail stores are going to tend to become experience spaces mainly." Masquespacio studio, on the other hand, understands that to increase in-store health safety in the short term, there will be very easy solutions as the ones being applied in supermarkets “with partitions and signs,” although they think that retail stores "in the long term will begin to incorporate air cleaning systems and materials to limit bacteria adherence as the ones already implemented in hospitals." It will be more complicated for the hospitality sector, as there is where diners will have a much more sensory experience." "They don't see an aesthetic and experiential solution at this time except to reduce capacity and the air-cleaning systems.”
And as for work spaces; Ramón Esteve tells us that "more and more there will be places where to share and not so many individual workstations, since the part of the work that can be done in front of the computer will tend to be done from home. We will go to the office for everything that requires sharing, be it meetings between teams or external people.”
For Cutu Mazuelos from Stone Design studio, while the crisis lasts, all public spaces "will need to provide stream of measures that are, let us say, "prophylactic" in terms of prevention: Methacrylate partitions in commercial premises, offices with separate spaces, entrances with disinfection elements,...", but he is convinced that when this is diminished "there will be stricter legislation in terms of hygiene and maintenance of public spaces and commercial premises,” an element the studio is working on to provide solutions.
In Francesc Rifé’s words: "This crisis encourages us to rethink the relationship between society and space. From now on, we believe that we will need to design interiors giving them a much more functional, optimal and healthy approach. His studio has always articulated its work around spatial order, but he thinks it will be crucial to reinforce such patters to improve personal relationships. "Get the mess in order.”
Finally, Héctor Ruiz Velázquez thinks that "regulating the spaces we share after a health episode of such dimensions, will require a multidisciplinary consensus by many experts from different areas, obviously, including essential health professionals as well."
Future strategies and opportunities: The importance of international scenarios
For many of the future actors, as in the case of Francesc Rifé, Ramón Esteve, Stone Design and Masquespacio, interior design is also combined with product design. And for others, like Héctor Ruiz Velázquez, even with architecture. But, what everyone agrees on is that the opportunities for the future are partly to be developed in the international scenario where they are already working, - mainly focused in Europe, USA, UAE, Russia, China, other Asian countries like Japan or South Korea or some Latin American countries such as Mexico and Colombia, - and to take advantage of the new opportunities offered.
In that sense, for Ramón Esteve, his studio’s strategy will be focused on places where greater business opportunities are found. In fact, the future points to the fact that "there is going to be a profound restructuring of mass spaces."
"This situation is a real challenge of new opportunities to further help users. The world is going to demand many things that we never thought we were going to need in all areas, and our responsibility is to do it in a friendly, functional and digestible way” suggests Stone Design.
Solidarity is another aspect of this crisis - says Francesc Rifé - whose studio is focusing on supporting the companies they work with through digital communication. In addition, "we will have to strive to be more creative than ever." About the future, he thinks that “one of the great lessons we can learn from this experience is that a large number of people are able to work remotely with all the technological tools we have. Perhaps teleworking is here to stay, so residential interiors will have to open up to the office world and vice versa. This crisis is paving the way for hybrid concepts.”
For Héctor Ruiz Velázquez, "we are living in a time of reflection rather than conclusions, a time of seeing how the mechanism we had for doing things fits in again. As architects, they are used to working with scales, so they will do the same with this situation, and will adapt to the different scales of openness set by the institutions. The studio considers that "learning, improving, changing and transforming, are the premises that will turn this experience into an opportunity when normality is resumed." In his opinion, we will see an increase in technology in our homes, which will turn them into more intelligent spaces to face the social changes coming over due to the need for greater physical protection.
A in the medium term, investments in Spain and a large part of Europe will be stagnated or reduced, says Masquespacio studio, and it will take time to regain consumer confidence so there will be fewer projects and more studios competing for the same project. Its strategy is to offer a different, much more authentic service and product that fully incorporates artisan processes.
Finally, Equipo Creativo thinks that design will come out reinforced from the situation we are going through, since it is the vehicle that will invite people to feel comfortable, protected and delighted. They hope that post-Covid-19 design will generate healthier socializing habits. "Confinement has encouraged the idea that our homes can house disparate uses such as high-end restaurants, offices, nightclubs, or gyms. It is not unreasonable to think that home interior design should incorporate something of the design of such places, allowing inhabitants to transform their spaces according to how they want to use them. A very attractive challenge"
Work processes adapt to the crisis
Likewise, work processes have been forced to adapt to the pandemic in order to realize the new aspirations and opportunities faced by the sector. To do this, like much of the Spanish interior design sector, interior designers have opted for teleworking, videoconferencing and calls with clients, along with the cancellation of trips and visits to worksites.
However, these internal adaptations have not resulted in a major change in work processes. As Francesc Rifé comments, "project design has always been done digitally, so the crisis has not really impacted the creation process, but rather the execution process. All this has pushed us to be more creative in the way we communicate. It has also been necessary to give team members more flexibility.”
Therefore, with the progressive opening of traveling, it will be possible to visit the works designed once the corresponding health protection measures have been adopted. But until then, as architect Héctor Ruiz Velázquez points out, "creative processes are still at full swing because part of our activity has always been oriented towards the need for creative interiority."