Written by Lynda Relph-Knight
Lockdown. Like it or not, it’s with us for posterity. Dubbed ‘word of the year’ by Collins Dictionary this month, like Blitz the term has officially entered common parlance.
‘Here we go again,’ people sighed as the second lockdown took effect on Bonfire Night. We all understand the arguments for it. Government and scientists for once agree on it. But panic set in for some in business, particularly in retail, travel and hospitality. Their mettle is being tested yet again and, with Christmas looming, it will take another raft of bright ideas and nimble thinking for some of them to survive this time.
On a personal level, Lockdown 2.0 has made little difference to me so far. As a writer, I’m used to working from home and lockdown justifies my natural inclination towards a simple lifestyle. I’m satisfied, for now, with a walk through London’s parks and squares. I find that wine doesn’t figure as strongly in my life as I thought it did. I’ve rediscovered the joy of learning new things and thrive on exercise.
I’m not unusual in these things. But I wonder when my wariness of other people will go – a lingering leftover from those scary days of early Covid. Will I ever wear lipstick again? It makes little sense under a mask. And when will I see my Northern family?
Zoom is no substitute for a quick encounter over coffee. It ticks a box, but it rarely inspires. Oddly, a phone call seems more intimate. As for that impromptu drink after work and the design get-togethers I so love orchestrating? Who knows when they’ll be back on the agenda.
I’ve always counted myself lucky, as a mere observer and fixer, to work within design and architecture, among such talented and creative people. A crisis that daunts most us is a challenge they rise to with brilliant ideas to make life better. They are refreshing to be around, and such fun.
I’m fascinated to see what the creative community does to prise us out of our closed-in lockdown habits. What will the new retail look like, for example? Will I still prefer the convenience of online shopping to buy books and frocks or will I be wowed back into the shops by fascinating formats and theatrical experiences?
Travel beyond my manor seems a distant memory just now. But how will it feel when the world opens up again? How will designers make those border controls appear seamless and stress free? And what will a hotel look like – Airbnb or a collection of short-let business suites?
It’s a great time for us to dream and for designers to weave their magic. It just needs a leap of faith on all our parts, especially the business community, to make it happen. It also needs us to take more calculated risks and not be managed by them.
That time will come – and soon with any luck and a reliable vaccine. Let’s be ready to take our chances when it does.
Design Writer & Consultant