THE coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has greatly impacted many businesses and occupations, causing several of them to cease operations and render many unemployed. But there are several sectors that have been resilient and have survived the pandemic. One such industry that managed to adapt to the health crisis is interior design.

Many would wonder how a seemingly irrelevant industry be relevant in these trying times when others are focused on providing essential products and services.

Covid-19 response

According to interior designer and SoFA Design Institute Academic Director for Interior Design Dr. Carla Leonor, the environment is currently "volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous." Despite this, designers have been prepared and are adequately equipped to deal with these situations.

Interior designers are called upon to provide assistance to various industries in coming up with solutions that would help improve interactions between individuals in built environments, in keeping with the health and safety protocols in place. One such example would be designing the interiors of disinfection booths and quarantine facilities. Such work is done in collaboration with the United Architects of the Philippines.

Designs for the new normal

Interior designers are called upon to give their input as the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the lifestyles of individuals. As many people adapted to the work from home or hybrid work scheme, the services of interior designers are tapped and they have readily answered the call though remotely.

Leonor provides an example from her interior design practice, "We were able to pivot quickly last year by accommodating online consultations with our clients who are mostly in Manila. We've also worked with several furniture retailers and manufacturers to assist them with their sales and provide our customers the convenience of doing their home renovations through our guided e-services."

One of the things clients seek is redesigning their home into an office as most if not some companies currently enforce working from home. Interior designers have been working on such concepts even before the pandemic and this has given them the opportunity to make their works a reality.

Besides being a casual space, home offices are designed to feature large work surfaces, comfortable chairs and expanded storage spaces.

It does not stop here, however. Given that the pandemic has also affected schools, the home also needs to be designed with students in mind. Thus, the need for spaces that would allow conducive remote learning.

Extra spaces in the house, such as unused bedrooms (when children move out as they grow older) and garage, can be repurposed as "bonus spaces" that can be a recreational area – creating a small gym or a den where families can bond watching a movie on their home entertainment systems.

In as much as households seek a conducive work and study environment at home free from distractions, there is still the need to adhere to the health and safety protocols by giving attention to entryways and foyers – the home's first line of defense against viruses and disease like Covid-19.

As such, interior designers would create spaces where shoes and other footwear can be stowed as well as a facility where one can sanitize before entering the house. Many designers foresee this will become the norm even after the pandemic would come to pass because by that time, sanitizing will be an accepted practice.

As the saying goes, "necessity is the mother on invention," and the Covid-19 pandemic provided the impetus for such a necessity among interior designers to focus on well-defined and adaptable spaces in the home, reemphasizing its importance.

"As an interior designer, I'm able to look at the macro and micro environment to better understand the market, forecast future trends in design and in business and create relevant strategies," said Leonor.