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Henrik Pedersen
PRESS RELEASE JANUARY 2021

THREE DESIGNERS ON CORONA VS. FURNITURE DESIGN

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Nearly a year into the new normal, BoConcept turns to members of its design team, Karim Rashid, Morten Georgsen and Henrik Pedersen, to ask how the pandemic is affecting their respective design-worlds.

The (not so) new normal

As the world wrestles the varied implications of a second wave, BoConcept speaks to three of its award-winning designers. Morten Georgsen (based in Valencia, Spain), Henrik Pedersen (Aarhus, Denmark) and Karim Rashid (New York, US) explore the coronavirus’ impact on their process, furniture design, home trends and workspace norms.

How has the pandemic affected your work?

HP: As designers, we’re often travelling, meeting clients, customers and manufacturers. But with that no longer possible, I’ve managed to free up extra time and have become more efficient. Of course that comes at a cost to the social side of our work, which I think does contribute to the process. But it does allow you to be more focussed. On a global scale, creativity seems to be blossoming right now. Our human ingenuity leads us to create novel solutions when faced with adversity. We’ve seen this again and again throughout history. It’s like water, we always find a way of least resistance around an obstacle. This disruption to the everyday creates true and lasting paradigm shifts. It’s something I find encouraging and inspiring, amid all the negativity.

How will the pandemic influence social trends in the home?

MG: I think this has brought an awareness of design and interiors, which will probably continue for years to come. The absence of travelling, the inconvenience of masks and the plain fear for our health have made us “homebodies” – where hygge, comfort and design will have more impact than ever before. We will see an explosion in the home-office category – as we rethink our home; making room for the desk and likely some additional storage. Smaller living through urbanisation and working at home could well create a shift in interior thinking – like when the walls came down between kitchen, dining and living rooms.

And how will those trends bubble to the surface of home furniture design?

KR: Casualism has shaped our lives, our minds, our spaces, so the virtual and physical blur, where luxury is ease, where new comforts prevail. So, our home furnishings have taken on much greater importance to have contemporary comfortable ergonomic inspiring furniture and lighting at home since we spend far more time there than we have in the last 50 years. We also accept that technology is creating better experiences than the physical and hence the physical needs to catch up to the beauty and seamlessness of the digital age. We need fewer but better physical things. More high performance yet more sustainable products.

What work-practice changes are you anticipating?

MG: Quite a few companies have realised that some work can be coordinated from home – though I will say it has been a struggle for us, as any creative group seems to lose some of its strength when working at distance. However, I am not for one second in doubt that the office will have fewer “members” in the near future. I am of the conviction that human beings, to a large degree, need to be with other human beings to realise themselves. And the benefits really become apparent when you are all striving for a common goal, i.e. in an organisation. However, the notion of having your own desk will become less common – a trend we can already see with the rise of hot-desk spaces.

The interrelation amongst people will for a long time be controlled, with strict sanitary precautions. This is progress for offices, which have often neglected the impact that general distance, clean surfaces and hygiene mean for the overall feel of the environment. Offices will be less congested and more flexible, with quicker and smaller group meetings and an emphasis on light, fresh air ventilation and distance.

How will that impact contract furniture design?

HP: Social distancing and having the ability to control your personal micro-environment will become more and more pertinent. We’re already seeing the rather quick solution of enclosure in our supermarkets, with cashiers serving you behind Perspex sheets. Our challenge, as designers of workspace is to give workers that security while still maintaining the cosy and homely feeling they demand. Making the office a nice place to be.

The good news is that this has been in process for some time, with lots of development in tactile acoustic solutions, work zones and cocooning furniture. The pandemic will simply accelerate the evolution. Moving into the home, I think there will be more focus on creating micro-home-office environments; perhaps soft booth-like designs, providing a pleasing space to work and hold virtual meetings without having to worry about the state of your background.

What should we learn from the pandemic and what changes have you made?

KR: Ideally, it is a wake-up call from mother nature for us to think about consuming less, to slow down and enjoy and appreciate our existence, to clean up the world, to manufacture locally, to farm locally and responsibly, to stop livestock farming, to have fewer children, to digitally work with far less travel, to eradicate toxins, to end political turmoil, to prioritize political spending, to end using paper, to end wars and military investments, to respect the Earth and not take anything from it anymore like oil or trees, and to respect and love each other. To spread Globalove not just for each other but for our environment and our ecosystem.   The only personal change I will make is to only work with companies like BoConcept that are doing great things for people. Less but better, less and smarter.

Additional links:

Henrik Pedersen:

https://www.boconcept.com/en-gb/inspiration/people/designers/henrik-pedersen

Karim Rashid:

https://www.boconcept.com/en-gb/inspiration/people/designers/karim-rashid

Morten Georgsen:

https://www.boconcept.com/en-gb/inspiration/people/designers/morten-georgsen

 

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