We asked some of our design collaborators how their working lives have changed over the last few months and whether they will take any of the changes forwards. Here are their spontaneous thoughts:
I never stopped working from day one, just adapting to the situation, working more from home, where now I have a fully set up office, and experiencing more the digital platforms. These will definitely be carried more and more into the future.
Paolo Moschino – Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam
Life has changed and for the good. We have different disciplines in our company so each has had their own unique issues to deal with.
For the architects its been a revelation. They have gained time, less unnecessary travel and adapted to different and new technology. Using all these tools we can have interactive design forums over the web. Fantastic.
For the interior designers at Thorp the challenges are much harder. We need to touch and feel things and use other non verbal / literal skills. So even a simple task of making the electrical element and fitting for an Agostini wall light takes about 30 e mails! Fairly frustrating!
The future will be bright and busy and fun still but also calmer. I want us all to focus on what really matters. We create wonderful homes for our clients but often at the expense of our own lives. From now on we will do both. More family focus whilst working efficiently but not to the exclusion of a balanced life.
Philippa Thorp – Thorp Design
My working life is unrecognisable from this time last year, as I’m sure it is for everyone, but what’s a huge difference is being able to work properly in other locations apart from my Studio in London. Nearly 2 years ago my partner, Steve and I brought a Chateau in France, as you do, not because we wanted a grand pad but because it was rude not to. The interior architecture, although untouched since the second world war was exceptional – stunning panels and plaster friezes, Doric columns – an Architectural feast.
We thought back then that we would be able to nip down for one or two weekends and get Christmas and maybe Easter there, it’s in Normandy so not far to drive – THEN the Coronavirus hit.
It’s been amazing spending 6 weeks down there – and surprisingly working properly. It’s something I would never have considered possible before – to participate in a London Masterpiece debate with world renowned professionals one moment, to then being able to walk round the lake at the chateau later that afternoon. It’s completely changed my perception of where I can work and going forward will make such a huge and positive impact in my life.
I plan to spend the month of August down there – to work gently every day BUT, to enjoy being part of France and even more importantly, the Countryside ! I never thought I would say this BUT I’ve loved the last few months of being humbled by nature – to take time to look at living trees and not just as a source of great furniture to be made but as a connection to living things. I also realised I didn’t know what the trees were until they were cut down – I could tell you what timber was what on any piece of furniture but give me a park of real trees and I was lost… so will I take these changes forward. Absolutely!
I feel so lucky that having this in my life and my working life has given me options that weren’t there before the pandemic – we can work anywhere, it’s just a question of where and how.
Tim Gosling – Gosling Ltd
Like everyone, my working life changed dramatically mid March. Rather than a brisk walk across Hyde Park to the office, my morning commute was from one side of my Oxfordshire barn to the other where I set up an office to work remotely. Along with a new desk top computer, I acquired a shredder and a life changing A3 printer, became on first name terms with the DPD and Amazon delivery drivers and settled into a routine of face time calls and Zoom meetings.
Many aspects of working from home were very satisfactory – the lack of interruption when planning and researching projects, scouring web sites, drafting plans and layouts is excellent, but counter balanced by working alone, I missed the interactivity with my team at work and the stimulation of being able to discuss projects and ideas.
I’m so happy now to be based back in London. I really enjoy the energy and sense of community in our offices in the Pimlico Road.
Going forward, when I need to do a lot of preparation for a project, and reading around the subject I will certainly do this from home with less distractions but will continue to enjoy working out of the office as much as is possible!
Emma Burns – Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler
Working from home is a new concept for many estate agents as we have been used to being on the high street with our listings in the windows and people could just walk in. Technology to the rescue as prior to Covid19 as the internet portals became the new window. But working from home can be lonely and it’s not for everyone. I find I can concentrate more on the matter at hand thus my clients get the 100% attention they deserve.
When I am out and about it’s with a sense of purpose as It’s now all about having a better work / life balance and have the time for both to greater effect.
Face to face meetings still happen, less frequently but are far more purposeful. Welcome to the new norm!
Tom Tangney – Rose & Partners
What an extraordinary journey we have all been on over the last six months and really what I have taken away from this is that our teams can really work effectively remotely – at Taylor Howes we simply haven’t stopped!
Prior to Covid I had always believed that working remotely was not an option for an interior design studio as interior design is a very tactile and social job in which you need to be with your sample library, looking and touching your materials and samples, collaborating with your team, meeting with your clients etcetera.
However, I have now learnt that technology allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work. People today really value workplace flexibility and remote working because it allows them to focus their energies on work and life as opposed to commuting or other complications due to geography.
Having said all of this the Taylor Howes Studio in Knightsbridge has been open effectively and safely since the measures were eased and it is lovely welcoming clients into the studio and being with the team again.
In the right roles and with the right people, flex does offer tremendous productivity improvement. It gives people time to process properly, and it gets them out of the office in terms of being bogged down in day-to-day admin. So there is more thought leadership that comes to the table, and that’s where your creativity and innovation come in. This is something I have found to be true for both myself and my passionate team of designers.
We have always worked on Skype with our overseas clients but with Zoom and other ways of communicating we have to be on a plane less and less – much better for our environment!
We are seeing real changes already in our clients requirements for their homes and we are incorporating them into our designs – home offices, gyms, family dining and a special place for everyone just to be. I think the ultimate win from this journey we have been on is to really assess our work life balance and this is so important and ultimately makes us all better designers.
Karen Howes, CEO & Founder – Taylor Howes Designs
I am lucky to have three homes; in London, the Canaries and Lebanon. I have spent the last few months in the beautiful Canaries, where I have so many local friends. I have played a lot more sport, particularly visiting the gym, swimming in the sea every day and taking lots of walks in this beautiful country. Here, they take food very seriously, and their puddings are famous! So I have enjoyed hosting many small supper parties and I have cooked many Lebanese dishes which my friends have loved!
Of course, I adore London. I miss the art galleries, the concerts and operas and so many friends. I am involved with the Almeida Theatre which I look forward to visiting again soon!
I also love my house and garden in Lebanon, but sadly have no immediate plans to visit.
It’s way of life, its people, the food and wine there are very enticing and I hope to return in the not too distant future. Actually, wherever I am, my friends are all local to my home. I find I don’t mix with the tourists or expats.
During the last six months, I have spent more time on my sports, also taking photographs of my garden, to see it changing week by week, and the beautiful landscapes we have here. I have more time to read, and to make drawings and plans. I tend to work in the mornings, a productive time, but I have found a new and unexpected benefit to my days. Laziness! What a joy to just relax and ‘be’. Time to think, to contemplate!
Of course, I can do much of my work wherever I am, so I think that in future I will divide my time between my homes, perhaps more time in the Canaries. Definitely I have discovered a new and welcome balance to my daily life!