Thinking Beyond COVID-19: A Multi-Part Series on Post-COVID-19 Design

Whether in the context of learning, working or living, COVID-19 has shifted the familiar patterns of our culture. Each day, conjecture into what to do about these radical changes arrives via our news and social media feeds and during chats with friends and colleagues. As we wrestle with the new and the uncertain, our minds search for something both familiar and actionable. Since fear of the unknown produces incomplete, hazy visions of the future, what’s called for in the design community is more of what, under normal conditions, we excel at: creative thinking inspired by questions that go beyond the current context.

Trumping Memories & Worries

In times of remarkable change, it’s natural to ask, “What’s next?” We hunger to know what’s coming so that we can prepare accordingly to maximize positive results and minimize negative ones. But even in our data-rich world, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed more conditions than what even our more recent, heftiest piles of data can predict. Hence the uncertainty and its resulting stress.

On a more positive note, times such as these can also be a source of abundant creativity and innovation — if we work at it. In moments of calm and clarity, when safety and security prevail, creative questions push fears aside. Possibility replaces lamenting. The result? Inspiration is found. When we are relaxed and open, our imagination trumps our memories and our worries; we can move beyond how things once were, or are now, to how things could be.

One technique to igniting creative thinking in times such as these is to ask “opposite questions.” For instance, instead of asking, “What’s changing?” ask, “What elements will remain?” Instead of asking, “How can we best adapt to the changes?” ask, “What’s good and likely to remain with how we’ve always approached things?” Instead of asking, “How can we best respond to difficult and uncertain predictions?” ask, “What are the simple actions we can take now that are virtually certain to work?”

Focus, Collaboration & Innovation

As we work, learn and live within the architecture and interior designs that frame and empower our experiences, we will continue to need efficient focus, effective collaboration and experiential innovation.

Even as we accelerate the blend of the physical and the virtual, redefine what it is to be part of a team, and await new technologies to provide better solutions, we know that these three basic needs will remain.

In this blog series, we explore the principles of efficient focus, effective collaboration and experiential innovation in post-COVID-19 design. The common thread through it all? We must think beyond our current context to anticipate and prepare for an even more productive and fulfilling world.