What We Need from Our Homes in the Age of Covid-19
As our homes become a refuge, we’re rethinking what we need from them and how we can improve our quality of life
They presented their analysis in a seminar entitled Intuition & Data: Anticipating the New Consumer Needs Post Covid-19 at the Maison & Objet Digital Fair, which replaced the physical event this September. Relying on extensive data on everything from news articles to keywords, hashtags, searches and product sales, the speakers identified how these emotional needs are translating into new demands on our interiors and how good design can help to address these challenges.
Home is not just home any more. With the pandemic and lockdown, it’s turned into an office, a school, a gym, a play area, a restaurant, a dormitory or a place to retreat to and relax. Consequently, we now need more flexibility in our interiors, with modular and adaptable elements.
“This pandemic has really caused consumers to look deep at their needs … and with that we’ve really prioritised items that are more adaptable for all situations,” Mize says.
We’re starting to look for furniture and accessories that allow us to work and play in the same space. Hybrid designs, detachable units, and convertible pieces are the key to creating a home suited to the ‘new normal’.
Discover more trends from the Maison & Objet Digital Fair.
Before Covid-19, there was already a growing awareness of the importance of healthy air, but today this has really become a priority as we spend more and more time at home.
Homeowners are looking for all possible means to improve indoor air quality: furniture that doesn’t emit VOCs or other pollutants, sensors that monitor air quality, and air-purifying treatments.
“Ikea, right when the pandemic hit … came out with protective, purifying curtains that actually purify your home like a filtration system,” Mize says. “We’re really seeing a lot of filtration systems built like ecosystems, bringing the outdoors indoors.”
This also applies to the filtration of the water we drink or bathe in.
Hygiene in interiors is another big topic. “At home, how many of us have really re-evaluated our normal routines to be more sanitary overall … disinfection is in high demand, so this is one of the biggest areas we’re seeing innovation in,” Mize says.
This encompasses solutions for disinfecting clothing from the moment it enters the home, such as disinfecting wardrobes; antimicrobial products and fabrics for children and bedding; soaps that change colour when you’ve washed your hands for long enough, or self-disinfecting features such as door handles.
To respond to newly growing hygiene needs, there’s also a new emphasis on contactless solutions that stop germs from multiplying on certain surfaces or limit their proliferation in the home.
In times of pandemic, our homes have also become our refuges. And what would a refuge be if not a place to rest and recharge your batteries? “We are without doubt in a comfort movement,” Mize says.
She underscores the priority given to sleep and therefore to bedroom décor. Responding to this need are products that ensure high-quality sleep, helping us process our daily emotions and protecting our immune systems. These include sleep and breathing monitors, antimicrobial bed linens, and sound insulation. “People are looking for more features within their everyday sleeping situations,” Mize says.
Wellness in general has become a priority in this time of anxiety. The experts also observed that we’re using the time to focus on ourselves, whether mentally, physically or emotionally. “Overall, culture is shifting to really value healing and wellbeing over … excessive displays of wealth,” Kurnik says.
The growing interest in meditation apps is one of the manifestations of this phenomenon. Kurnik notes the negative impact on social media influencers. “People were no longer interested in looking at nice holiday photos or expensive meals,” she says. “They were turning instead to spiritual healing leaders, doctors, nurses, meditation leaders.”
This search for wellbeing also includes physical activity at home. And here as well, equipment and furniture needs to be resilient enough to survive daily use, with stain-resistant, waterproof, warming or anti-odour products and furniture that can be used for doing push-ups, yoga or other exercises.
Need some help reconfiguring your interior space? Find architects and architectural designers in your area.
The months of lockdown, during which we had few social interactions and had to cancel long-awaited events, have really affected our morale. Working from home has likewise created stress, blurring boundaries between work and private life, and sometimes pushing us to work non-stop. This has created a new need for little mood-boosters in our homes that can help us to escape the daily reality.
“Consumers will be tightening their belts on spending, but they will find … value in these little colourful pieces of joy that they can bring home with them,” Kurnik says. We will therefore be on the lookout for stimulating purchases that improve our mood or provide instant gratification – joyful, colourful products that boost morale. For example, the experts noted an increase in searches for watercolour paints and ukuleles.
Finally, the current climate of anxiety has reinforced our need for security and resilience. “People are at home all the time and use their products constantly. Confidence in these products is therefore key,” Mize says.
We want reliable objects that are fire-resistant or even able to survive catastrophes, as well as items that are generally resilient against wear and tear – in contrast to the past few decades, when products were not necessarily made to last.
How has the pandemic influenced the way you see home and interiors? Share your thoughts in the Comments.