vol.01 The Future of Automotive Comfort
The Future of Design; Post COVID-19
Silvio Angori, who is the CEO of Pininfarina, the Italian design house, has written an essay titled:”Redesigning the future through… Design”. Angori shares with Digital Journal some of the key points.
In the essay, Angori,, casting an eye over the future of art and design post-coronavirus, Angori writes: “The greatest change for Design post-pandemic, is that Design can no longer just stimulate people’s feelings but must LISTEN to their feelings and adjust the design of whole environments based on how people are feeling at any given moment. It is this “humanization of tech” that will make people feel “reassured”. This will reflect, among other things, in the way we plan, the way we live, the way we move, the way we conduct business, and the way we communicate.
With this essay, Angori is of the view that his essay is the kind of forward thinking beyond the coronavirus that will appeal to Digital Journal readers.
History of pandemics and the impact on design
Looking at the history of pandemics and the socio-economic impact, Angori writes: “Pandemics are intertwined with the history of humankind. Through the centuries, viral outbreaks caused the decimation of entire populations, and the fall of long-established political powers.
However, Angori notes: “they equally brought about the creation of new economic orders and growth, leading to the development of new technologies which created the conditions for cultural exuberance. Take for example, the Plague outbreak which devastated Europe in the mid-fourteen century resulting in a dramatic and long-lasting economic depression.”
In terms of the impact, Angori finds: “Subsequently, unprecedented economic growth diffused wealth, leading to the Renaissance in Italy and to the creation of masterpieces of geniuses such as Michelangelo, Bernini, Raffaella, Leonardo and many others we admire today. History seems to prove that catastrophes open the path to new beginnings and are sources of unexplored opportunities that significantly increase the well-being of people.”
Changing urban planning
Looking at things historically, Angori writes: “In the last 30 years, urban planning has leveraged two principles: density and mass transit. From now on, when designing the new town square or concert hall, we will have to face an ever-evolving dilemma: should we favor social distancing, or foster social interaction? While cities are beginning to reopen, a series of precautions to significantly limit the aggregation of people are being implemented, continuing the concept of social distancing. Our responsibility, through design, is to facilitate the experience of interaction but embrace latest AI and 5G technologies (like thermal scanners, pedestrian monitoring, dynamic flow management, rapid access to testing and emergency facilities) to mitigate the risks of contagion, but to “humanize” them through Design at the same time.”
Future of housing
On the future of living spaces, Angori speculates: “Private housing of the future will be radically different as the boundary between home, office and leisure becomes increasingly blurred. The design will have to take into consideration enhanced needs such as more private spaces, the need for family members to spend much more time in the house for homework, online learning, and open space for individual use. For this reason, tomorrow’s homes should favor complex and reconfigurable spaces, adapting according to the different situations of everyday life.”
Future of the workspace
What will the office of the future look like? Angori ponders: “How will office space change? Retro-fitting the existing cramped office spaces will be a costly battle so quite possibly working from home where possible could be one solution. Where this is not possible, both interior and exterior spaces need to be re-thought. To create a feeling of “reassurance”, personal areas could be created using pre-constructed units which can be dropped into public space areas which make people feel “protected” without them feeling “isolated”. This could be done by rejecting the standard approach of “square space” primarily used in architecture, in favor of “curved space” which is also split vertically to avoid direct contact yet still allow interaction.”
Future of transport
Getting from A to B will also change, says Angori. “Public transport will need substantial re-thinking. Digital surfaces could be used to psychologically comfort passengers. Mass transportation needs to use these techniques to create virtual private spaces within the condensed public space otherwise passengers will feel uncomfortable about travelling. For example, the interior of planes and trains can change color, screens could depict calming scenes and individualized music could be played to adjust to the feeling of each individual. Seating arrangements and most importantly surfaces people touch like grab handles, need a completely new approach.”
Future of retail
The coronavirus has disrupted consumption, declares Angori. “Social distancing will affect retail spaces as well. Retailing business models will have to undergo a complete transformation. Society will be forced to make design and purchase choices much more through virtual methods. This will revolutionize retail space design and social interaction. Fulfilment and last-mile execution, merchandising and pricing, the workforce and increased organizational transparency are the key areas where challenges are being exacerbated by COVID-19, while maintaining high level customer experience and engagement. The future retail world is going to be reshaped in full.”
With technology, Angori focuses on virtual reality (VR), stating: “VR will give a significant new impulse to retail. In car design, VR has already revolutionized the need to make full size models. VR gives one an authentic understanding of what a real car would look like by leveraging the latest digital technology. With VR, we could be looking at buying cars and clothes “virtually” at home. Luxury goods will appear on the doorstep through chauffeur delivery as will brand new cars bought through the same VR system. We will be following whole virtual events like motor shows, sports events, and concerts from the comfort of our homes.”
With mobility, Angori says that this will “also need to be redesigned. Car sharing has been increasing at the expense of individual ownership, but what will happen post-pandemic? This is something car designers need to consider, and the materials used in the future must now also be chosen based on how easily and quickly they can be cleaned between driver changes. Will fear of how long the virus remains active on different surfaces influence the choice of materials used? Most definitely! As with all design aspects and when the lockdown relaxes, it is about “reassuring” people.”
Ending his treatise, Angori quotes the words of Walter Gropius, a pioneer in modern architecture: “Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society”. With this, Angori signs-off concluding: “This is truer today than ever before. Designers can and must play a crucial role in shaping a brave new world.”