How has the pandemic has affected the way we occupy spaces in a technological shifted world?
GMD - Graphic and Media design
Its officially been 1 year since the start of the pandemic which has affected every part of our lives; socially, economically, technologically and even creatively for some of us on DPS. It’s daunting how time has passed since then when things were “normal”, especially when I started DPS back in September and how much has been affected due to the virus. Since my last blog post, I was extremely lucky enough to gain a remote internship working for Pentagram in Yuri Suzukis small team. His work consists of the focus on sound - through various mediums of interactive experiences, installation art, product design and exploring the importance of sound design and “sonic logos’ to accompany visual design. His work is extremely interesting to learn about, considering it’s something so different to my traditional design skill set and unique part of the greater field of design. Being able to help them in several projects and understanding their practice (especially in a world now of full of visual communication in so many platforms) opened up my own interest in this idea of multi-sensory design and how can the realms of visual be merged with sound and the other senses.
I have no knowledge on sound design, or even have any experience with playing musical instruments but have been surrounded by music since I was born. We all have. Music and sound has been present everywhere we go and has influenced so much of our culture - even silence has some sort of sound metaphorically. As we are developing into the world of new technology and increasing reliance on AI technology to help us, it’s interesting to gain insight from Yuri and his use of this in sound design to help show the importance of our senses in a modern world. Even during the pandemic, the importance of sound/visuals in communication has been pushed further as we rely on our news, work and social life to switch online to an extent. Instead of being able to touch our loved ones during this time, many took the opportunity to use video calling to keep contact to see another but as soon as the audio connection is lost - sometimes is the conversation. Our 5 senses are the fundamentals of our human understanding, how we absorb information daily and digest to learn and grow constantly. For people with hearing difficulties or visual impairments, the senses have to adapt to compensate but how has that been affected with the pandemic - the lack of touch, smells, taste or new environments apart from our own home is definitely something to reflect on. How has the pandemic changed the way we now communicate or utilise our senses accordingly? This is something I have been thinking about, especially when I am working from home and having to shift to an online working environment for the entirety of my internship.
Working for a designer who’s practice stems of the need for physical engagement with audiences and utilising sound to communicate during this pandemic has shown the need of adapting to the current climate, and how important that is as a designer especially in such a unique field. As work has shifted online for the time being, it’s been interesting to see how technology has played a big role in being forced to adapt to these new online environments; for work, socialising and even for entertainment purposes. From my own perspective, I have realised how important the spaces we inhabit are to our own wellbeing and personal creative growth. For me especially, the biggest challenge so far for DPS was adapting to my own workspace, which has been difficult mentally working long days in my bedroom with no physical separation from work and personal life. I have tried my best to constantly rearrange my bedroom and desk, switching up ways I work inside those 4 walls but overtime it becomes demotivating and hard to stay focused creatively. The importance of social interaction in work like this is forever needed - from the face to face meeting with clients to quick coffee breaks where you have the most important breakthroughs in casual conversation is something I have missed during this time. Going back to the idea of senses - it shows how important it is to work in conditions where all of them can be fully explored and stimulate how we work as designers. It was interesting to be part of a project for Space 10, where Yuri and his team had to propose fun and interesting ways of showing how sound can affect mental well being and privacy in the current “work from home” environment - something extremely relevant to a lot of us now. The project explored how sound could be used to create separations in a house in a form of a “sound curtain” and how it could be possible to make your room feel bigger so when working from home, you feel less claustrophobic and would improve your mental well being all through sound and spacial-audio design. For me this was an exciting project to be a part of that sparked my interest into wanting to explore these new territories of design and again questioning the importance of our own domestic spaces.
Design plays a huge part in our world as I mentioned earlier with new emerging technologies and the importance or design in relation to our senses and spaces, but it is so much more. Design has influenced everything we have built - in our networks of communities, cultures and society as a whole. I think reflecting on my own experience this year with design, it has really helped me further understand its importance even more and how it will always have a key role in our lives, whether we can see it or not. So what will the design future be post covid and when will our desired physical connections re-open? At this rate, who is to tell how we would go back to normal but all we can say when it does, there will definitely be new wave of reflection on this past year that will question a lot we take for granted; especially in our own spaces we create.
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