It’s March and one year anniversary of isolation. The pandemic resulted in an abrupt change in routines and livelihoods all around the world, yet some individuals, groups, communities and firms displayed resilient and creative responses in coping with this situation. History suggests that engaging in creative acts can be an adaptive response to a changing environment.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
We acknowledge that this time has been, and continues to be, distressing and filled with uncertainty, and we are trying to make sense of the current situation by seeing how creativity and making meaning serves to buffer against the negative effects of living through the pandemic. We need to find significance more than ever - but in what ways?
We started working from home. Our new life behind screens has implemented changes in human behaviour, and very quickly so. Different companies and businesses immediately scooped up this fact, and as this example shows, it was clearly manifested in fashion. BBC writes about how a ‘waist-up’ focus has been noticed at both Milan and London Fashion Weeks. Most effort has been put into our top half, since it’s the only thing showing in a web cam, while the bottom parts are loose in stretch materials for comfort. This is not only shown in detailed necklines and silk hair wraps, but also in logo placement. Big brands are placing their logos near the collars of their garments to ensure its visibility in video calls.
Another pandemic consequence meant an increase in children spending time at home, which was also noticed by big corporations. IKEA together with Instinct designed a couple of DIY playhouses and forts for children, that can be built with specific Ikea products or similar items. The forts were part of a campaign to encourage people to remain in their homes during lockdown, and at the same time help parents to entertain their children when other activities were out of option.
Functioning workplaces have a strong foundation in internal communication and healthy relations, and we as human beings are confirmed in the meeting with others. So what happens when we remove that core value in a working environment? Speaking from experience, industries like ours needed to find new ways of co-designing and maintaining good communication for the sake of ourselves and our client’s happiness. Early on, we did our research and adopted digital platforms, with a goal to keep the most valuable form of communication, as we find in spontaneous run-ins and visual workshopping. We have found success in using Miro for creative sessions, and to keep good relations we have standing digital meet-ups, proposed for non work-related conversations only. While the pandemic has served as a catalyst regarding digitalisation, we still have a way to go, and to get there we have to just try, try and try until we find the best solutions.
In 2020 digital life became beautiful again. Organisations went out their way to develop new methods for sharing and experiencing music. Quarantine forced us to explore if it was possible to transform the full experience of a live concert into a screen, and while it seems far stretched, the outcomes have in many cases exceeded expectations. The Social Distancing Festival is a successful platform that celebrates artists and other disrupted works of 2020.
The digitising has spread beyond music concerts and into various digital parties and activities. For example, Netflix Party is a way to watch movies and shows together with others, while talking or chatting during the entertainment to reach a sense of authentic hangouts. This is where creatives have used the internet to provide raw entertainment and culture to the people in challenging times.
Many people ended up with more free time on their hands and due to limitations, all energy went into the few things we could actually do. Ambition was put into improving basic skills, where some activities concerned for example: cooking and crafting. It went from basic knitting patterns to curdling your own cheese at home.
This tendency resulted in a big wave of sharing new skills, tips and tricks, which gradually transformed into a new thing: the ‘I’ve been doing it wrong all these years’-trend. While exploring our own kitchens and supplies we discovered hidden qualities everywhere. Yes, there is a wrong and right way to fill an ice cube tray, to flip a sandwich, to dry your hair and to peel a ginger. The latest trend is how to make one pot pasta with feta cheese. Google it and thank us later.
As part of the pandemic self care-ambitions, we learned so much about beauty hacks
through easy tutorials, 10 step guides and online courses. How to cut and colour your own hair, how to create fake bangs and get longer eyelashes. Who knew skin care could be so fascinating?
This trend also touched a deeper level of self improvements and self acceptance. When we’ve had some time to evaluate ourselves and our priorities, we sought for inspiration and guidance to preveal. It can look a little somethings like this and this.
We can not talk about 2020 without mentioning TikTok. TikTok offered a tool for creative people to express themselves through video without needing professional skills. This platform became another outlet for creativity, mostly amongst teenagers.
The app allows for everyone to create their own content in only seconds, and while some strive to go viral, some just happen upons it, whether it's a one hour fame or the start of a career. Heather Shaw was just a regular person before her TikTok account went viral, where she posts videos of her doing Jim Carrey impressions. Now she has over 1 million followers and a solid career in stand up comedy.
Over to another platform that unlike TikTok doesn't involve sharing content, but is mainly focused on a chat and call function.
In March 2020 the app Clubhouse was launched and as we speak, it’s spreading like wildfire. The app allows people to join open chats and calls, some theme based and some not. The joker in all of this, is that you have to get a personal invitation to join from someone that’s a member, very similar to how Spotify operated in the beginning.
The bars closed and our homes became the main event. When screens and blue light began to feel overwhelming, suddenly board games, puzzles and legos caught our attention. Tarot Cards and Chess was no longer for enthusiasts, but for everyone, especially due to a little (read: big) push from the popular mini series Queen’s Gambit. When the series launched, the chess industry exploded and the timing was impeccable.
Tablescaping - a trend we followed without realizing it. Our new lives at home naturally include many meals, so why not spruce up that routine? During the past year, the art of setting tables, a.k.a tablescaping, has been implemented more and more. We just wanted a nice tablescape at our family dinner during lockdowns. A napkin is more than a napkin and a table setting definitely needs a color scheme. In 2020 we invested in accessories for our tables to turn a regular routine into something luxurious.
Tablescaping is just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to the active home improvement movement. As seen in WGSN’s report Cosy Living, this tendency hit a new high in 2020 due to the increased time spent at home and the current view of a home as a sanctuary space. This new found respect for our home unconsciously pushed for make-overs and renovations to create the optimal hub for ourselves and our families.
In the beginning of the pandemic we saw worrying amounts of empty shelves at the grocery store and high price raises, which brought out an increased interest in self-sufficiency. We leveled up our gardening and vegetable growing, in order to be more independent. This increased ambition was an intelligent response to what was happening in society. According to The Conversation, Google searches for ‘How to grow vegetables’ hit an all time worldwide high in April.
So, as these stories imply there are always bi-products from change. This time around, the pandemic worked as an accelerator for creativity and innovation. Creativity is a human resource that we can’t live without, at Zenit Design and everywhere else, because it is the foundation of development. It is the resource that found new thoughts, new solutions and innovations, new desires and new ways. Our research on the bridge between pandemic and trends will continue - keep an eye out for upcoming insights.