Designing Public Spaces Post-COVID-19

The “new normal” is a description that gets thrown around a lot in newsrooms. And while our unfolding reality is often presented as un-malleable and cumbersome, what it really represents is an opportunity to rethink how we live and work together. While it won’t be easy, the prize of a safer society will be worth it — which is why we’ve been giving it some thought here at Chaplins. In collaboration with our Head of Commercial Interiors, we’ve put together 4 key concepts that stylists should be thinking about when working on public spaces post-COVID-19.

Regroup

Whether it’s in the office or restaurants, designer’s are having to engineer new ways of congregating. While the knee-jerk reaction might be to divide and seal open space, remember that we’re trying to rebuild community, not reinforce isolation. Solutions, therefore, need to be carefully thought out with a keen awareness for the current moment.

Some of the best solutions we’ve seen involve room dividers — although the materials used will make all the difference. Try to opt for semi-transparent screens like Glas Italia’s Skin or Abstracta’s Softline — each of which is lightweight yet tactile enough to create the “together yet apart” feeling.

Access

Now more than ever, public spaces must become seamless, minimising the need for unnecessary contact between people and surfaces. This means banishing handles or sockets in favour of open shelving and wireless charging points — ideas mastered by the creative teams at COR and Pablo Designs. We might also see the return of copper — a wonderfully versatile material famed for its antimicrobial properties.

Touch

Where touch is required, we’ll see a shift away from clinging, hard to clean fabrics in favour of eco-leathers, bio-plastics and wood. A clever incorporation of all three elements will be required to prevent spaces from the overly clinical Apple-store look — with stylish leather upholstery used to help soften once hard surfaces.

While industry titans such as Vitra and Vondom have plenty of ready-to-ship products in this regard, we expect Ultra-Fabrics to become another name to note as one of the first suppliers to dream up anti-microbial fabrics that inhibit the growth of bacteria and welcome the use of alcohol-based cleaners and disinfectants.

Rest

Chill-out zones or alternative workspaces will also come into their own as we each embark upon the slow return to the office. While we expect WFH to remain the norm for at least 50% of the week, team brainstorming sessions and some client meetings will still need to take place face-to-face.

Leading the transition from single-person workstations to collaborative meeting spaces are Scandi brands such as Fritz Hansen and Verpan. Productive soft-spots can be created with the high back Plenum Lounge Chair equipped with handy pull out tables and charging points.

 

Larger projects, on the other hand, might want to opt for the Cloverleaf Sofa, an unusually shaped modular design that easily allows for physical distancing. Carefully scattered poufs will also help to create socially distanced islands of comfort — accelerating a trend that was already present in many millennial co-working spaces.

Fancy some help on your next project? Then be sure to get in touch with our trade team for exclusive discounts and nose-to-tail interior design support.

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