Since COVID-19 has many of us working from home, boundaries between work and life are slipping further into the distance. This also inevitably causes us to put a magnifying glass to our living spaces, and many designers predict this shift in thinking will have lasting changes on home interior design.
After all, we have past epidemics to thank for home innovations like the ubiquity of easy-to-disinfect subway tile and front porches. COVID has put a swift stop to the expectation of 40-plus hours in an office and hours-long weekly commutes; how will this change what we tolerate when it comes to how our home spaces are organized?
Studio Belem's vision for future homes shows sliding panels replacing permanent walls (via World Economic Forum)
Designers and architects are busy envisioning ways to alleviate stressors like safety concerns in small spaces such as our apartments as well as potential work/life imbalances. A recent profile by the World Economic Forum on designers working in this new space show a number of examples alluding to how home interiors will change with work from home becoming the new normal. Studio Belem, an architecture studio based in Paris, recently shared their a new living space concept in response to coronavirus that includes sliding panels to replace static walls and modular, integrated furniture systems. Belem co-founder Edouard Bettencourt tells World Economic Forum, "There are no corridors, as this is wasted space...The bedrooms are all set next to each other. You use slidable panels, which can completely open or close rooms as you like."
Vitra's Dancing Wall System by Studio Hurlemann (via The Spaces)
Unsurprisingly, designers working on these future concepts are inspired by home layouts in Japan and other highly saturated cities as well as the tiny home movement; use cases where modular designs stem from the need to maximize incredibly sparse square footage. Given the trend, we're likely to see trends such as dual purpose features, like a tiny home bathroom door that also functions as a loft ladder, or a modular divider wall doubling as shelving similar to Vitra's Dancing Wall system. Beds might move up a floor and lofts gain more popularity as apartment-dwellers will want to maximize floor space for working and other daytime activities.
This tiny house packs a number of modular features, including a storage system that houses a retractable staircase for access to the house's loft bed (via Curbed)
Companies like Ori Systems, who for years have promoted a new kind of modular living aided by robotic systems that can transform the functionality of rooms with the touch of a button, can expect to see competitors arise who provide even more economically feasible solutions as demand for more tolerable home/work space rises.
Modular layouts also perhaps mean the impending death of the open floor plan as we know it, made popular by the likes of HGTV quick-flip television shows. In a feature with Dwell in March, Gray Organschi Architecture founding partner Lisa Gray reinforces her love for design open plans while also stating that "it's also incredibly important to be able to go and close a door even if it's in a tiny tiny place. This has always been needed for mental health and privacy, but it's now needed so that people can get their work done." As we spend more time at home, there will be a push in design to create barriers signifying a separation between home and work life that also serve as a reclamation of privacy for individuals in the home.
While we don't know how long COVID-19 will linger, it is indisputable at this point that it will forever change many aspects of our lives. And as we spend more time in our homes, inevitably noticing our living spaces' current flaws and inefficiencies, it's likely the home interior revolution will come sooner than we may even imagine.