The twenty-first century is almost defined by its fast rate of change. Technologies emerging from nowhere to become commonplace, new socio-cultural developments proliferating, design trends churning in months not years. Living with this speed is an exciting experience, if also sometimes challenging. And now, suddenly, our fast changing world is massively changing; the scale and speed of the impact from the virus is greater and quicker than anything experienced in peacetime. Change just got way faster. And from this comes a major creative imperative: to design differently for a better post-virus world tomorrow — and to do so fast.
Thousands of deaths, the suffering of sick, and the stress of those caring for (or about) others is awful, and compounded by related social and economic impact of widespread social-distancing. But this huge change that has quickly come upon us will also make this the most creative time we will ever live through: people will have a new set of priorities and sensibilities in post-virus times; markets will be unusually predisposed to change (having become accustomed to so much change). Historically, tragedies are followed by optimistic assertions of life.
Right now, even it if is hard to see or think about it amidst so much pain, is an unparalleled opportunity for Design to explore different future scenarios, and then conceive new products that will shape and enrich our future world, and thus form the basis of future market and industry leadership for their wider organisation. The benefit of the short development periods hard one by many companies, will only be realised by those that immediately seize this opportunity and rebuff the inevitable business-as-usual mentality around them. As change just got faster, so design directions have to change fast.
Exploring different future scenarios and conceiving new products is exciting and important, but also far from easy. To be both different from what went before and robust enough to warrant large investments is a challenge. But this challenge is the heart of what we do at CDR: supporting clients’ new creative directions with research that usefully inspires and informs, and substantiates. There are a variety of projects in and aroudn this post-virus challenge we are already developing, including:
- Looking at the legacy of social-distancing in design for cities, buildings and mobility
- Building a portfolio of post-virus vehicle types that fit with, and evidence, forthcoming market preferences
- Researching how luxury and luxury design will be reshaped by Covid-19
- Mapping out how vehicle interiors (including colour & materials and UX design) will pivot in a don’t-touch world
- Delivering remote design work-outs that stimulate designers working from home
Core outputs of these research projects we intend to publish (although some of these and other virus-specific research areas will become client confidential).
Just as the Renaissance followed the plague, and so many pinnacle creative achievements have risen from major societal strain, so the post-virus world will not be defined by the prosaic but by true creative visions that resonate with the spirit of tomorrow. Being part of this imperative today, to design differently for the post-virus world, is the most exciting and important creative challenge.
[This is the first of in a series of articles about designing for post-virus]