The health crisis has accelerated the introduction of many trends that would have taken years to develop. One obvious example is remote working, a new reality to which spaces have had to adapt, transforming the concept of homes, offices, hotels and shops.
The ‘New habitat. The spaces we inhabit in the post-pandemic reality’ report shows how the coronavirus crisis has influenced the design of our living spaces. Research was carried out into international trends, and the opinions of 180 interior designers and architects were analysed. The survey was carried out in collaboration with Casa Decor and CDICV (Interior Design College of the Valencian Community).
“At this strategic tipping point, we need to innovate to adapt to the challenges we face as a society”, said José Miguel Pellicer, CEO of APE Group.
“We’re experiencing a period of uncertainty, which is why at APE Group, we feel it’s our duty to research and share our knowledge. We’re doing so with a pioneering document in the industry, which anticipates the most significant changes in homes, offices, hotels and shops”, he concluded.
Lack of space, smaller average home sizes, and new living space functions combined with our more dynamic and changing lifestyles are forcing homes to adapt quickly, simply and accessibly. Indeed, flexible spaces will be very important when designing the homes of the future, according to 8 out of 10 industry professionals.
The introduction of the hoffice (home office) means that homes will have to be planned to accommodate both work and personal life. This means finding solutions that integrate and hide away the office easily, using flexible multi-use products for during and outside office hours.
According to ‘The spaces we inhabit in the post-pandemic reality’ study, when designing the homes of the future, Spanish architects and interior designers prioritise a connection with the outside, flexible interior spaces and sustainability.
Although most companies have opted for remote working models during the pandemic, many are favouring hybrid working, which is why offices will continue to be relevant.
As a result, 37% of industry professionals believe that offices will be the most important spaces in terms of flexibility. They will become ‘hub & spoke’ spaces: meeting areas to promote collaborative work and create interaction between people.
Offices will be divided into areas for different use: concentration spaces, brainstorming areas, collaborative work rooms, workshops… Thus, having to concentrate in the widely prevalent open-plan models of recent years might be a thing of the past, as offices begin to favour more compartmentalised solutions.
The health crisis has also led to an increased awareness of the importance of creating healthy workspaces.
Likewise, offices are quickly evolving towards an ecosystem of flexible spaces designed for many activities, where human interaction will play a vital role. Thus, they will be reconfigured to be ‘More than an office’; becoming spaces hybridised with other models (commercial, cultural, events, etc.). This is a more interdisciplinary vision of work that creates unexpected new interrelationships between different companies and projects.
It’s clear that holidays have changed forever. Travelling to disconnect from urban stress is increasingly popular, and the industry is being revitalised through options that allow guests to isolate and stay safe. Thus, the concept of hotels as a refuge is emerging, places where guests can connect with nature – a vital issue for travellers in the coming years.
Isolated hotels set in natural landscapes have been the ones to come out on top during the tourism crisis. Likewise, new projects that take advantage of their location to create isolated spaces focused on holistic health, designed for domestic tourists in large cities, are continuing to appear.
Nevertheless, the hotel industry has been one of the hardest hit during the health crisis, forcing it to create strategies to diversify its business. Until now, hotels were spaces that, to a certain extent, were a little separate from city life. Following the pandemic, they have had to become centres for socialisation and are now seeking a new role as cultural, social and economic entities.
Hotels no longer want to be spaces aimed exclusively at tourists or business travellers. They want to be connected to their surroundings, active participants in the places where they are located. Hotels are rethinking how they function, driven by the need to diversify their business and develop strengths in the face of crises such as COVID. They also need to become hybrid spaces, which will allow them to take on new functions, according to ‘The spaces we inhabit in the post-pandemic reality’ report.
Therefore, spaces are being created that combine hotels and offices, where the increasing number of remote workers can find the right services for their needs; in other words: workspitality. According to 69% of industry professionals, these models will be very important for hotels in the coming years. In fact, Spanish architects and interior designers rate the business opportunity of remote working for hotels very highly (8.1 out of 10).
Building trust has been key for the retail sector during the height of the lockdown period. Although physical shops were initially hit hard by a drop in sales, the industry has seized the opportunity to rebuild itself around the digital economy.
Now, the omni-channel experience (coordinated selling across different physical and digital channels) will be essential for planning the shops of the future. Bricks and mortar stores will become an additional step in the shopping process, connected to e-commerce or marketplaces. Therefore, retail will become a ‘phygital’ space.
Physical retail spaces will also become more important to get in touch with brands and their values. It is projected that shops will become “experience laboratories”, more focused on services and prescribing than on actual selling.
For 4 out of 10 architecture and interior design professionals, this in-store experience will be the most important factor when designing retail spaces. However, they also prioritise technology (21%), product display (14%) and the flexibility of the interior space (9%).
With regards to shop location, there has been a shift in consumer spending from city centres and shopping centres to local businesses in the wake of the pandemic.
According to the APE Group study on ‘The spaces we inhabit in the post-pandemic reality’, brands have to show that they have taken into account the lifestyle and routine of customers in the areas or neighbourhoods they want to reach, adapting their offer to the ‘hyperlocal shop’.