How COVID-19 is changing design

The pandemic's impact on consumer behaviour means that the hospitality needs to adapt

Philipe van der Loo and Hasan Roomi
Philipe van der Loo and Hasan Roomi

The coronavirus has made us more aware of hygiene and, as a result, hotel guests will be more conscious about what they touch and how they interact when they stay in hotels or visit a F&B venue. This will lead to a rethinking not only how the interaction between the space and guests will occur but especially on the type of materials that will be used in the design.

Speaking about the changes he expects to see in the coming months, Quooker UAE managing director Philipe van der Loo said: "With many antibacterial materials and appliances available today (or easier to perform deep cleaning/sanitisation procedures), we will probably see an increase on the use of this kind of material and objects in the hospitality design post COVID-19."

Van der Loo added that another possible and interesting change that we might see is the increase of touchless interactions. He said: "Instead of switching on lights with your fingers, you would use voice commands or your own smart phone to control many of the interaction around the room where before we would use our hands and now we will use voice and guest own devices – avoiding unnecessary contact with objects that usually are used by several guests and housekeeping. The benefit of having a Quooker tap installed in hotel suites or F&B outlets is that you reduce the number of appliances (no kettle, no water dispenser and no bottled water) and therefore also reduce the physical contact with many appliances."

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The way we are looking at utilising space and shaping environments is constantly evolving, however, according to H2R Design co-founder Hasaan Roomi, the past few months have created a tectonic social shift in the way consumers consider spaces. He explained: "The obvious aspect is social distancing but we need to dig a little deeper to understand the subconscious reaction we have to how spaces make us feel. Ultimately the perception of 'safe' makes quite a difference. For example, the use of hard surfaces that can be wiped easily. Colour is another factor, light, soft colours, closest to white, allow us to perceive what is clean."

Roomi added: "As operators, it is crucial to utilise space as much as possible and unfortunately social distancing can contradict that possibility. However, designing smartly, allowing for pockets of space for more private environments within a confined space can allow for the utilisation needed for operators as well as providing a haven for customers to feel safe and comfortable, having the space they need away from others."

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