BY MARK KEAST

We are far too early in the pandemic to fully grasp how it will impact the way we live, how it will shape the cities we live in. But there are common thoughts and opinions emerging from leaders in the interior design world about what the priorities will be when designing our homes.

Our lives and habits are going to change. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says, when referring to the impact of COVID-19 on society at large, it’s no longer about getting back to normal now, it’s more about what the new “normal” will look like.

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Question No. 1 will be a renewed sense of appreciation for domestic space. Your home is your castle, an urban oasis if you live downtown, and post-virus that will mean building a pretty wide moat, at least in your mind. Those priorities – safety, solitude, comfort, sustainability, health (a heightened attention to sanitation), the  fundamental qualities of wellness – will eclipse all others. Self-isolation might more and more become a permanent mindset post-virus.

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

HVAC systems, for example, and air filtration systems, will no longer be an afterthought. It will be a priority purchase – true luxury. Health and hygiene will be top of mind. Water filters and purifiers, and small gardens on the balcony or rooftop terrace, will be priorities too. Indoor gardens produce both food and oxygen.

What will happen to open-plan spaces for the home, where the living room, kitchen, and entryway form as one? As this article says, the entry area may be walled off, so dirty shoes and clothing are kept separate from the living area.

The other day designer Brian Gluckstein released his Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection, and the priority of creating a sense of calm and comfort in your home amid the pandemic was first and foremost.

“Our homes should provide a place of quiet refuge that encourage us to relax and unwind, a serene oasis made to enjoy time with our families, cook delicious meals, cosy up to incredible movies and books, and video chat with friends,” Gluckstein says. “This season, we’re looking to spaces that allow us to live with comfort and ease – something we need now more than ever.”

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Looking through their lookbook, the Gluckstein collection focuses on style and relaxation. “Our spring collection … focuses on a perfectly undone home filled with creamy neutrals, airy silhouettes, and plenty of texture,” he says. “Laidback styling invites us to live effortlessly morning through night. Think beautifully wrinkled linen bedding, casual warm wood serveware, soft hammam towels, hyacinth baskets filled with plants or cosy throws, and lighter furniture for a brighter, more uplifting space.”

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Dawn Chapnick, the Principal at Dawn Chapnick Designs, says trends in interior design to watch out for include quality linens and beds, since good sleep will become more important because it helps boost the immune system. She also points to safer and anti-microbial materials in terms of countertops and cabinetry, especially surfaces in smaller rooms.

“There needs to be materials that can be easily cleaned and sterilized,” she says. Chapnick also referenced smart phone devices that raise your home’s IQ – accessing security cameras or locking your door remotely, controlling lighting so you save on energy costs, monitoring the air quality in the home.

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Melandro Quilatan, the President and Co-Founder of Tomas Pearce in Toronto, says COVID-19 has caused changes in how interior designers work. Any talk with a client about a project and trends in design will need to include personal touches, even moreso than in the past.

Image courtesy Tomas Pearce

“Face-to-face interaction and conversation is so very important to the creative process,” he says. “Engaging a client one-on-one is vital. The camaraderie established while working on a project allows intuitive interpretations to come forth in the design. Building the relationship, rapport, trust and a deeper understanding between a client and designer is so much easier when we are in a room together. That intimacy cannot, at the moment, come into play.

Image courtesy Tomas Pearce

“The next best thing to that however is to have virtual meetings by webcam with both our staff and our clients.  I think we all recognize the necessity of working this way and though it isn’t quite as intimate I’m finding that virtually everyone (pun intended) is learning how to project personality and subtlety into our meetings. I’m happy to say that our new current reality and way to work is allowing our projects to move forward.”

Will any of that become a permanent way of doing business after the virus passes? Quilatan says both their developer and residential clients all have expressed a desire to keep working, despite trades closing out of necessity, and site work on private residential projects coming to a halt.

“However, with the ability to work remote and from home, we are at least able to continue to prepare design concepts, plans and drawings to accommodate and anticipate the site work that will indeed pick up,” he says. “So to answer your question, during this unprecedented crisis, we continue to keep busy with the design and documentation of our projects so that post crisis, our construction sites may proceed and/or continue.  They will be very thirsty for information.”

Image courtesy Tomas Pearce

Quilatan echoed Chapnick’s thoughts about an uptick in technology for the home – especially technology that promotes good hygiene. “No touch” is the new norm for day-to-day social behaviour – or at the very least “limited touch”.

“As professional interior designers, we have a responsibility to design environments that are not only aesthetically beautiful but just as importantly provides safety and promotes wellbeing for those who experience our spaces,” he says.

That will mean a heightened use of motion sensor technology where he possible, he adds – entry doors to frequently used amenities that will be operated on a key fob system, addressing security while preventing hand-to-handle touch, motion-activated faucets and soap dispensers (designers integrating hand sanitizer dispensers as built-in elements as opposed to a bottle sitting loosely on a counter), automated toilet seat covers and flushing systems. All will become more common in luxury real estate, Quilatan says.

“Space is a luxury but in a fantastical world of the future, planners, architects and designers will design with ample personal space in mind – expelling the desire of compact spaces and dense communities,” he says.  “We all know the value of real estate but perhaps we will look at the meaning of the word ‘value’ relative to space in a slightly different way.”

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection

Spring 2020 Gluckstein Home Collection