Indranee urges designers to rethink how spaces are designed for a post-Covid-19 world

Minister Indranee Rajah (right) with Society of Interior Designers Singapore president Keat Ong at the National Design Centre for the opening of the Singapore Interior Design Festival on June 17, 2021. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The interior design community needs to rethink how public and community spaces are to be designed for a post-Covid-19 world.

This comes as the pandemic - and the trends it has accelerated - brings "profound implications" for all forms of design, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah on Thursday (June 17).

The design of a workplace, for instance, will inevitably change as businesses transform themselves.

Already, there has been a shift towards working from home, with virtual meetings being the norm, she added, citing a recent example of how Facebook is giving its employees the option to work remotely even after the pandemic.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Covid-19 is here to stay and that there is no going back to the old normal," stressed Ms Indranee, who was speaking at the opening of the Singapore Interior Design Festival at the National Design Centre.

The festival, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic and postponed for a month this year due to heightened safety measures, showcases works by local designers and features discussions on the future of interior design in a post-pandemic world.

The event, organised by the Society of Interior Designers Singapore, will include conferences where international interior designers share how changing global needs and norms will affect their work.

Some issues that designers are grappling with include the blending of physical and virtual spaces as people become more accustomed to doing things online.

Ms Indranee, who is also the Second Minister for Finance and National Development, said designers have to be updated on the latest trends and find ways to incorporate new ideas in the planning of spaces.

"It is this ingenuity and nimbleness that will put the community in good stead as we adapt to new demands in re-imaging the use of our living and working spaces," she added.

Ms Indranee noted that designers must also strive to create appealing spaces that will improve the health and well-being of those using them.

Touching on the festival's theme, Optimised/Optimism, she encouraged designers to remain hopeful during these difficult times.

"I encourage you to tackle the new 'asks' of interior spaces coming out of Covid-19, and turn these challenges into opportunities," she added.

The month-long festival at the National Design Centre will be open to the public from Friday to July 18.

The highlight, Design by Numbers, features large-scale inhabitable structures of varying sizes, built on assigned numbered plots at the centre's atrium.

The interactive showcase allows visitors to step into the installations to view and experience them.

Society of Interior Designers Singapore president Keat Ong said that in a post-pandemic world, "elements like better ventilation and air circulation have become magnified".

"Wellness-focused design also becomes more important as people spend more time at home, and at times in isolation. Good and effective design will play a major role in how offices, public spaces and homes are shaped in this new normal."

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