Crisis and opportunity for interior design


MANUEL TORRES ACEMEL gives us his point of view on the situation we are living in these times, where COVID-19 has affected our way of life in every way.

Crisis is synonymous with opportunity, and unfortunately, we have to admit that this is not a crisis, but a war. The worst thing about this war, is that the enemy is not seen and this has caused a global pandemic, which has kept us confined to our homes for months and has paralysed the economy of all countries. It has affected all human beings, and the worst thing is that hundreds of thousands of people have died around the world and this still goes on and on, because there is no vaccine?

Opportunity, the interior design sector and the requests and trends of clients are also evolving. Until now, the trend was for offices to look like homes, however, after months of confinement due to COVID-19, now it will be the opposite. So, we will have to reconvert and design homes that have a space dedicated to offices. To this end, interior designers will have to take into account that homes will have to have suitable multifunctional spaces that can be used as a guest room, office, library, children’s playroom, etc. But their real function will be that of teleworking, where key factors will weigh in: acoustics, solar orientation, wireless installations, choice of materials, textures, nature,… All these points are vital, but surely the one of nature that corresponds in architecture to the term BIOPHILIA will be the most important because this corresponds to the need we humans have to be in contact with nature and this contributes to a better quality of life and health. As interior designers, “We design experiences and generate emotions” that make our clients enjoy them and above all have a better quality of life.

According to the psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, who pointed out that BIOPHILIA is the love of life, the passion for all living things, it is a passion and not a logical product, it is not in the “I” but is part of the personality. That is to say, the lack of contact with nature creates emotional and above all psychological imbalances, because it denaturalises us when we are locked up for months. For some people it can generate crises of claustrophobia, anxiety, depression etc; and it leads us to look for new spaces to improve our life. Our profession, now more than ever, will become an indispensable function for everyone because interior design is not only to define a successful distribution of spaces but to have a better distribution, ventilation, the choice of materials, textures, lighting and/or solar orientation. These things reflect the personality of its users but should also be taken into account because they generate welfare and satisfaction to these factors above, just in case another wave of confinement returns. So here it fits perfectly that interior designers ” are observers of the everyday and we solve problems creatively by transforming them into design and innovation”; and now it is our turn to solve the problem of confinement and with healthier homes for our clients, their users.

The coronavirus has brought some important changes to the interior design sector, some more beneficial than others, for example more aseptic materials, spaces with terraces or gardens etc; We have not had to make big changes in the projects that were already finished, because in my studios, for several years we have already been using the SIDIB Method (Integral System of Design Inspired by Biophilia). At the beginning, the client gives us his brief and then in the office we present him what we call our “Contrabrief”, which are his needs but with our contributions and we always propose the involvement of nature and a multifunctional space that I mentioned before. So we have not had to adapt projects that were already finished, in the case of new ones fortunately the client is already aware and even asks us for this space, because this is very typical of large houses in Mexico and in Spain we have been applying it in our projects for several years now.

Interior design is an intangible that generates well being and comfort for its users.

That is why we consider that the coronavirus has caused great changes in the architecture and interior design sector and there is a very good opportunity to design and reform homes as work or coworking spaces. There are many people who have considered giving a new image to their home, turning it into a more pleasant and comfortable space in which to spend long periods, so now more than ever, it will be reflected that “Interior design is intangible and generates well being and comfort for its users”. And not only in homes with large spaces but also in small or even very small spaces. All of this is simply based on gaining space, generating more open areas which translates into the redistribution of some of the rooms in the home and using more antibacterial, sustainable, ecological, hygienic and easy to clean materials. The concern of not knowing if there will be another outbreak and we will have to have a second confinement has increased these requests.

Another of the successes that we have observed after this crisis are, fortunately, more positive than negative and are related to our own work dynamics in the MANUEL TORRES DESIGN studio and remote working. Undoubtedly, for almost a decade, having offices in Spain and Mexico, my whole team was already used to working at a distance and with the different time zones -there are 7 hours difference between both countries-, and therefore I think we can give some advice on this work methodology since we use technology on a daily basis to keep in touch with each other. It is important to have the technology that already exists and to have all the computer equipment adapted for this purpose together with good file management on the central server and in the cloud. With this we have seen that a highly organized working method is now, more than ever, essential to see that we are more effective when we are coordinated in communicating, each carrying out our tasks in an orderly and above all efficient way.

Another confinement period? Let’s hope not, but we should not be so optimistic either because everything points to the fact that this new way of life has come not only to stay but to continue to evolve and we have all learned that before this pandemic that nobody could have imagined it. It was impossible for everyone, and I insist literally “everyone”, to think about being confined and unable to go out on the street, but now unfortunately it is becoming a reality. Fortunately, the consciousness and the way of thinking of many people have changed and this is an opportunity to change things and to have a cleaner and more ecological world because the situation has accelerated by leaps and bounds, something that science and experts in ecology were not saying until a few months ago could only seem to us like something out of a fiction film and from the very distant future.

The result of a good project is the result of a good client

So I would like to end this article by mentioning another of my phrases that say “The result of a good project is the result of a good client”, and that is the fact. If clients are not aware of the environment, ecology, pollution and so many other factors that contribute to a greener world, we as designers can give them recommendations or advice. However, we cannot fight against them and this is where public administration has a lot to say, as clients normally end up complying with them only if they are legally obliged to do so. And I end with a phrase that says, “To design is to dream, to think, to plan and to create. Translating the intangible into the tangible”. This is my thinking and that of all my team.

Manuel Torres Acemel




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