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The value of home: lessons from planetary lockdowns

in design evolution

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, every industry has reflected on its own future, trying to figure out which permanent changes it will bring. Interior design is particularly concerned, because the way in which we interact with spaces has drastically changed during the past year, moving all daily life at home.

What follows is a series of reflections and lessons from planetary lockdowns, digging into the true value of home…

Biophilic living area with plenty of textures and big plants screening the window.
Credit: Makhno Studio

home and wellbeing

“Fundamentally we have had a chance to realise how the things we live with and the spaces we live in change us. They change the way we feel, change how we behave and change how we connect with each other. And we have seen how they can affect our wellbeing.”
Cit. Ilse Crawford

During lockdown, life has been confined within four walls. Slowing down the pace of life and experiencing domestic spaces more, everyone has had the opportunity to observe the impact of home on feelings and behaviours, recognizing its contribution to wellbeing and daily quality of life.

interior design is a personal affair

“The time in quarantine and the related intense use of our residences may have unveiled their shortcomings. How often do we live with a sub-optimal compromise or spontaneous purchase for years, because we simply got used to it? […] We may decide to give up on owning a sofa because it takes up too much space and watching television has long been transferred to streaming while lying in bed anyway.”
Cit. Vitra

Interior design choices are more relevant than one may think. Whatever enters a home becomes part of daily life, inspiring feelings, influencing behaviours, and bringing consequences: an uncomfortable chair can affect posture in the long run, and the wrong pillow can hinder sleep quality. Besides, home is a personal space that should reflect the specific needs of its occupants. In this context, common interior design choices can be a guide but should never become a limit. Crafting a home is truly a lifetime project…

home and technology

“Personal spaces need to be both virtually connected and physically enriching even in the midst of social distancing – not the clean, white, anonymous smoothness of contemporary minimalist modernism but a textured hideaway, like an animal’s den, full of reminders that the rest of the world still exists, that things were once normal and might be again.”
Cit. Kyle Chayka

Even beyond the pandemic, technology will increasingly enter domestic spaces. But this shouldn’t turn homes into sterile and hyper-functional interiors at the expense of comfort. Rich sensory elements such as natural textures or water features give spaces a physically enriching quality that’s inherently nourishing for both mind and body.

Close-up view of a textured woven dining chair.
Credit: Palecek
Inviting living area looking into a body of water.
Credit: Koto

making little things pleasurable

“Staying home has also meant that many of us have rediscovered the satisfying pleasures of the ordinary and have realised how simple things can matter. […] There is likely to be a greater focus on how to make these ordinary activities more enjoyable and not frustrating, with more consideration given to the tools and associated storage.”
Cit. Ilse Crawford

With nowhere else to go, things like reading and cooking at home have been upgraded to daily pleasures during lockdown. Yet for them to be enjoyable and not frustrating, these rituals need appropriate space, organization, and atmospheres. Activities like reading or meditating call for more introspective spaces, while cooking can become a shared moment that brings the family together.

adapting home to life

“We have recognised how important proper downtime is – the things we do to frame the working day and to prevent one day from blurring into another (not just collapsing on the sofa in front of the TV). To facilitate this our homes need to be adaptable and loose, with spaces that morph easily from one activity to another.”
Cit. Ilse Crawford

During lockdown, everyone has experienced a challenge that working-from-home professionals always face: separating work from the rest of the day. Especially when there isn’t a dedicated home office space, the risk of one day blurring into another becomes real. The definition of proper downtime is a very personal one but – whatever the activity – homes should be able to adapt and create the best possible conditions for it.

learning from the pandemic

“[Lockdown] has been a vast social experiment, revealing that we must focus on our homes as places we consciously and actively inhabit rather than just fall into at the end of a busy day or week, without concern for their impact on our physical and mental health.“
Cit. Ilse Crawford

In many ways, lockdowns have highlighted the strong relationship that exists between spaces, feelings, behaviours, and wellbeing. Hopefully, these realizations will settle and build a deeper understanding of the value of interior design and the importance of nourishing spaces for a quality life.

Quotes drawn from Vitra’s research paper “New dynamics in the home”.