Design in the time of the coronavirus

by Michael Yates on Mar 30, 2020 in Architecture , Dose of Design , Lifestyle , Top Story
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While Asia's design community, like so many other industry sectors, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, it has already begun to explore innovative ways to help society cope with the challenges the pandemic has brought about for everyday living.

Beijing-based designer Frank Chou says he found inspiration when home became the space for work and life interchangeably. "Life is the best source of design," he says.

In an interview with the organisers of Design Shanghai, one of Asia's premier design shows, the founder of Frank Chou Design Studio said he initiated the Create Cures project with a few designer friends as a response to outbreak.

"I designed a sterilizing lamp which functions as a tray and lamp that emits UV light. When people return home, they can place keys, phones, and wallet on the tray to sterilize."

Design Shanghai interviewed a selection of its participating designers in the leadup to its annual show, which was postponed to May 26-29 due to the virus.

Event Director Zhou Tan explained the team wanted to create a platform for exhibitors and partners to exchange thoughts and ideas about how they were coping with the crisis. This includes a livestreaming channel (see below) to "engage and rally everyone as we endure this episode as a community."

Designer Xiao Liu says she empathises with the psychological traumas that many people have experienced during the pandemic. The founder of THESHAW, whose visual installations reflect her inner spiritual world, says that the home should be therapeutic.

"We always raise the question of what a good product is. In our current situation, it must be something that brings hope. There should be more empathetic and hopeful products to ease the pain."

Zhang Lei, Founder and Chief Designer of PINWU, also sees design as a way to respond to different emotional states. "When everyone is anxious, we need soothing design; when everyone is calm, we then need something exciting."

Lei believes people have higher expectations for design during a public health crisis. He says the focus at this year's Design Shanghai will be on colours, and the application of colours to new materials. "Design should always be invigorating. We hope to bring excitement with these optimistic designs."

Design Shanghai will be held at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center in the Pudong district of Shanghai from 26 to 29 May. It will showcase the best design brands and galleries from across the globe in halls focusing on Contemporary, Classic & Luxury, Collectibles, Kitchen & Bathroom, Workplace and New Materials & Applications.

The Chinese-language live-streaming channel can be accessed via two Chinese streaming platforms, DouYin (the Chinese version of TikTok) and YiZhiBo. You can access Design Shanghai’s profile page and download the app via your phone on the mobile link here: Work is now underway on platforms targeting English-speaking audiences.

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