Designer Tips: Promoting Safety in Design

Touch-free doorsTopgolf Glendale – photography Michael Baxter

As our society continues to practice social distancing, design experts are looking into the future by strategizing ways to administer safe and functional design practices – promoting safety in design. Highlighting several “anti-spread” design practices, we break down some materials, finishes, and furniture that promote health and safety by minimizing the spread of Covid-19.

1. Minimizing Touch

According to WebMD, one way to catch and spread of Coronavirus is by touching surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on. Perhaps the most universally touched elements in public spaces are door knobs and handles. In place of traditional push/pull doors, designers and architects are including automatic doors where possible.  By eliminating the need to touch, public spaces become safer and promote a healthier environment for everyone. This touch-free door and storefront system by Assa Abloy at Topgolf Glendale is a perfect hands-off option to implement in a high traffic public space.

Promoting safety in design - texturesWood herringbone wall vs. herringbone faux wood tile at TFK Vegas

2. Cleanable Surfaces

The virus can live on surfaces for up to 2 to 3 days. In public and private spaces alike, it is essential to clean and disinfect surfaces easily and effectively. By deliberately choosing materials and finishes that are easy to clean, design experts are still creating beautiful spaces that also promote health and wellness.

Non-Textured and Durable Materials

Simply put: the easier to clean a surface, the better! Durable, flat surfaced materials are more favorable in today’s world. With cleaning practices increasing to maintain healthy public spaces, durable finishes that can take heavier cleaning and disinfecting without sacrificing quality are preferred. Designers are turning to patterned flat surfaces in lieu of textured and undulating materials for ease of cleaning a flat surface versus small scale crevices and corners.

Performance Fabrics

An emphasis on durable fabric and upholstery in commercial interior design is not a new concept, however with today’s pandemic it has become a requirement. Wipeable, durable fabric with 100,00+ double rub ratings are able withstand the heavy cleaning required to maintain spread of Covid-19. For example, performance fabrics by Maharam are a better chair upholstery option than a delicate linen.

3. Flexible Furniture

Spatial flexibility has become a crucial element in surviving the pandemic. Both residentially and commercially speaking, floor space is now being utilized differently day to day, as opposed to showcasing a fixed layout. With an emphasis on social distancing, the ability to move and multi-use furniture items from work, to play, or indoor to outdoor is an attribute design experts are implementing in our changing industry standards.

Indoor to Outdoor

The ability to move from indoor to outdoor space with ease has never been as valuable as it is today. In our current times, health leaders are emphasizing the importance of open space and circulating air. Designers are now selecting furniture suitable for both indoor and outdoor settings, such as sofas and seating, tables, and even rugs. A restaurant, for example, can open its doors and utilize outdoor space to extend seating outside. This, in turn, increases air circulation throughout and also allows for more distance between tables and gathered seating areas.

Curbed – Ikea Tom Dixon Delaktig sofa

Modular Furniture Options

Multi-purpose and modular pieces are now becoming most desirable for designers selecting options in open floor spaces. Well-designed modular furniture options can be combined in different ways to furnish and space groupings of seating or tables. By combining chair corner segments and loose ottomans within modular sofas, the configuration possibilities are endless.

Modern Digs – Amsterdam Table

Looking for a tri-functioning table? The Amsterdam Table can serve as a dining table, a work table, and even a ping pong table! And on top of all of that, it is suitable for outdoor use – a quadruple threat!  For more ideas for promoting safety in design, check out the Aria Group blog.