‘Quarantine, lock down, isolation, stay home, stay safe…’ These are the words that have  become part of our every day world. First came the worry and the stress, followed by the realization and the awakening that we should try and make the best out of this situation in both our personal and professional life, and after came the boredom and lack of ideas. Some of us pressed the ‘restart button’ and did all the above over and over again and others just waited to get back to the routine.

Interior design seems like the furthest thing people are able to care about to invest in at the moment. When there is a serious pandemic and people are suffering, it really feels absurd to care about renovations or nice coffee and side tables. Even though the lock down has finally come to an end and we are slowly returning to what was known as normality, there’s not a single profession that was not affected even slightly. However, there is no logical person that isn’t slightly worried that this has not yet fully ended and a second ‘wave’ is expected. Everyone in every industry is in crisis mode during this time.

The design industry is indeed one of the most affected sectors.

‘In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity’ – Albert Einsten

What if we really comprehend and use this phrase in everything we do? What if we see all the branches of the word ‘opportunity’ and just how many they are! I’ve been thinking of a few and I’d like to share them with fellow designers and any reader who’s interested in the creative industry, in an intention to give a beat of optimism that isn’t only put in fake beautiful words, but actually said in raw real facts that we sometimes take for granted or are missing the time to actually do them. I have also decided to reach out to architects and designers, gallerists and other art related professions, to ask them of their thoughts on the matter. It really got inspiring when I then took all my points together with theirs to compose this article.

  1. I like to believe that sometimes destruction leads to great creation. Personally, I’ve had the experience of creating some outstanding work and I realized afterwards that my Sadness, depression, anger, uncertainty, love, happiness helped the process.
  2. Space Psychology: This reminds me of how much design creates experiences in a space and how vital it is in times of crisis. Our nervous system is greatly affected by our surrounding environment. We respond, whether we know it or not, with the production of stress hormones. Color, light, balanced living areas, proportionate furniture and rhythm all play an important role to our psychology.
  3. Our unique field of work: Let us pause on this though for a moment. We initially became designers because we love it and because we would be unhappy not doing it. It was optional! Creativity comes from within and this is enough of a reason to keep doing it. Talent is something we are born with, something that comes from the heart and mind and our hand instinctively sketches it on paper and feels free in movement and happy at heart. The urge of taking that sketch, that idea and bringing it to life with a renovation, an upgrade of a space or a new product is strong and will be suffocated within us if it isn’t completed. If we stop creating, we stop being happy and stop making others happy inside their interiors
  4. Time for improvement: This unprecedented turn of events, this long pause that we have gone through was a time to think deeply about our field, our techniques, our way of working.
  5. Let’s do things one at a time. Previously we used to overwhelm ourselves with too much load of work, too many projects and too many meetings one over the other, as if we had more than two hands, more than two feet and more than one mind! We have learned to take one step at a time and give the best possible quality in our work. This is a very good step ahead.
  1. Here’s another idea: Designers could launch a new platform, a website where we can showcase new projects, ideas and stay connected with architects and interiors, design fans and clients.
  1. Creative forms of entertainment: While trying to make the best out of the quarantine situation and filling the long hours of the day, one may think of many things to do. Others get stuck at the thought. I felt like watching biography movies or videos and read books that architects wrote, like for example Daniel Libeskind’s ‘Breaking Ground’, related to his work and the Twin Towers in New York. Biographies related to our work can narrate a lot that has to do with the writer’s way of thinking and therefore his work and it can open our eyes and affect us in a positive way that can help us develop too. What is being shared in biographies, can trigger our minds and affect us greatly.
  1. Steps of success: As we all know, reaching the top, doesn’t come overnight and needs effort, time, patience and hard work. One of the vital things to know if one wants to reach higher in their field, is how to make the best out of a bad situation.
  1. Collaborate: These new unprecedented events, might make us reconsider another thing. Previously fearful about collaborations with people and companies in our field, may now seem optimistic and hopeful.
  1. Local designers, local products: This will help the economy stand strong. Let’s support one another, whether this means choosing a local architect- designer, or a local product in terms of furniture, accessory and art.

Between conversations, I realized that the Corona virus might be as simple as a higher power trying to shake and awake us, as well as making us understand that we need not always hurry, need not always run to reach our higher goals all at once, need not always be the best of the best, need not, need not. This horrible storm may have just been an awakening to remind us that we can find so many different ways to do what we used to.

‘In a single word: evolution. Let’s not just see what is happening in our lives, let’s see in which way we shall respond to it. It is challenging but even the biggest problem seems simple when we believe we can deal with it. The challenges we meet are there to give rise to our minds so that it figures out a way, far from the usual. Let’s broaden our way of thinking and our creativity shall find its way to fill the gaps of our empty or dull routine. Misery, fear and melancholy cannot stop our glowing power and energy, as long as we think positively and remain active’.

– Wil De Boer Dekker, Holistic Counsellor/ Coach/ Psychotherapist.

Metaphorically in this picture, the wood cracks resemble the crisis we are  going through. It happens very often to solid wood. The resin and the ‘butterfly’ joints come to naturally unify the wood together. The solution is always visible to the naked eye. This is probably the first time that our generation has faced a global crisis like this, where beyond economic concerns like the 2008 recession, there’s a chance of actually losing someone we know. Personally I feel some basic things help, like meditation, exercise, and keeping up with our normal daily life as much as possible, so that we do not feel the change so much. Now is the time to rebuild ourselves, our communities, our society.  For now, it’s good to think of this isolation we went through as time connect with our loved ones or explore our inner self, our ideas and our creativity.

This imposed reset offers us the possibility to analyze who we can work with, and who we really enjoy working with. It gives us the opportunity to see the downside in a positive way: How are we able to satisfy ourselves with less possibilities? How can we “re-design” ourselves (which is rare, as we normally do it for others) a new way of doing and enjoying? How can we find pleasure, care more, and give importance to who and what stays and is real in this new way of practicing our passions?

It’s unprecedented, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all bad. It doesn’t look good from our perspective right now, but I’ve always found painful moments to open new doors that otherwise may have remained closed. I feel like it’s super important right now to get scrappy, be flexible, and be open to new ideas. I’ve been sharing honest conversations with other small-business owners about how they’re affected and working through this. There’s no shame in this challenge. We have to lean on each other if we expect to get through to the other side. We need to be in a very creative, expansive mindset, thinking about the future of our business. Designers can contribute positive things to the world in our own way — that confidence we inspire will ultimately help the recovery of people and the economy.  As artists and designers we traffic in creativity, and there’s no greater opportunity to be creative than in a crisis.

Design is a way of life – Full stop. It is a creative journey in which we need to let our experiences shape our vision. What I love the most about the Interior Design culture is that homes are what soothe and support our souls in times of uncertainty. That is the special power interior designers, architects and makers have – they create experiences in homes and working environments that have an impact onto our lives. Now is the time to learn to love our loved ones a little deeper, to rethink our business and its long term goals, and to embrace our home – because we might all get stuck there once more.

Design won’t save the world – we do know that. But it surely makes it look good!  

‘The details are not the details. They make the design,’  Architect and furniture designer Charles Eames.

In the same way that details are so important in design, so are the smallest of things we do each and every day. In reality, they are huge.  If we are activated and do good, the results of our efforts will be big in the future. They may seem small to us now, but they will be immense in the future.

Thanks for reading.

Nicole Ioannides x