My life has become a Tetris game. Not the Gameboy one I played in the 1990s. More like the 3-D version with its colored blocks falling at warp speed. But if you lose at Tetris, you miss your place on the podium. If you missed too many tiles in your home life, you can really lose your mind!
My home has become a slider puzzle. You need to fit in limited space work tasks, housekeeping chores, school assignments, parenting duties, and hygiene new constraints, for all its members – given that all this evolves over time and that priorities are constantly reshuffled. Our home used to be our haven of peace from the exterior world. But we let the fox into the henhouse.
All day long, rooms, furniture, apparels, are repurposed. Our entrance presents a cupboard of clean masks. Our sink is dedicated to the soaking ones. Shoes decorate the doorsteps, aligned next to the pumpkins. Hand sanitizer is placed at every corner.
Only one will win the prime spot – the soundproofed room. One will do her homework from her bed. Another will aim at the outdoors table. Another will follow carrying a chair. Our furniture has become movable. But one fits all in a limited cubic space.
I work, teach, plan, and fail, on the kitchen table, next to the hot tea station that keeps me going everyday. Regularly I am interrupted by my kids doing their PE over my head. Another gap in the whole structure, I am not going to make it.
Sometimes I just need a hide away. A fraction of a couch. A fragment of silence. A pause in my brain. Game over.
During the first part of the pandemic, we’ve been mainly trying to survive. One more school project, one more zoom meeting, one more outing to the grocery store in our anti-COVID gear. Blocks after blocks, we’ve been trying to pile them up, hoping there wouldn’t be too many to reach the top, to crumble our sanity.
An everyday life deconstructed. Blocks crushing us.
More bad news, number of cases rising, hospital overboarding, death count climbing. Protecting the kids, keeping them safe, turning the masquerade into a masked ball. Cosmic kids yoga, Mo Willems tutorials, posters and teddy bears on the windows. A smile on their face, this is priceless. Another line of blocks eliminated! Another task list checked.
And yet I am so thankful to have so much space, my playboard is large. I wonder how this Tetris game can be played in a small city apartment. In a mobile home. In a narrow room in a community building. On a college campus. In a nursing home.
We are reaching the tipping point. We need to change the tiles, make them smaller, move them in the right direction, learn how to rotate them faster. We need the board to be more spacious, more space to move things around and rearrange for our newfound needs – multifunctionality, soundproofed rooms, moveable furniture, downtime environment, hiding area, access to outdoors, zen place.
An everyday life to reconstruct. Bricks to realign.
Some solutions are already being explored by real estate players, home developers, home interior designers, and furniture designers.
Post-pandemic design will be more thoughtful. Our new homes will meet new criteria: hygiene-centric, more flexible, sustainable, bunker-like, and more regulated.
- Healthy homes. The ideal home will offer a repurposed entry area to leave our shoes, a sink near the door to wash our hands and face coverings, a utility cupboard for our hygiene equipment. Easily cleanable surfaces will be favored, such as cork, copper and brass with anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties replacing plastic, glass and steel which keep the coronavirus alive for the longest time. Developers now include air and water filtration systems, touchless faucets, and bacteria-resistant paint in new houses.
- Fluid homes. Modularity will be key. Floor plans will adapt with more broken plans. Underutilized spaces will disappear. Rooms will be repurposed. Open plan areas will foster community living, similar to a WeWork space – or should we call it a WeLive space? The space lives and gets reinvented along the day and its alternance of individual time slots, quality time with family members, and end-of-day social rendez-vous: Working-from-home parents occupy the space during the workday, kids join for schoolwork times, before family members come together to socialize in the evening. Storage will gain in importance as people seek more ways to conceal personal and household items.
- Sustainable bunker-homes. Urban farming, air filtration systems, and energy-producing equipment such as solar panels and battery-charging stations, will become more popular for self-sufficiency, so that we don’t need to rely so much on the exterior. The home becomes a sort of danger-proofed cell from a chaotic and threatening outside world. That will also contribute to a gain in sustainability. More people will grow an indoors garden, or develop an underground basement with a garden, mini cheese factory, or a winery. Plus, gardening is calming. A zen space will become a must-have. Music, scents, vibrations, calming pets, will be part of the therapy. Walls will be repainted, furniture rehabilitated, backyard cabins remodeled.
- Compliant homes. The regulation that applies to office furnitures and air quality in corporate offices will need to apply in our homes. Kitchen chairs need to be replaced with an office chair that enables ergonomic and productive work. That same chair must be portable to be easily moved out when the user switches to the traditional cooking or dining settings. Humidifiers will become more popular. Ambient technology, and dominetics will contribute to stimulate social interaction and preserve mental health. A hotline to a mental health specialist could be installed. The elderly, the fragile, the lonely will be cared for from a distance. Closed at home, but connected to the world. Social animals in a safe harbor.
An everyday life to re-learn. Rules to reinvent.
Above all, we will apply the no-rule rule. Each home will need to be personalized, so each of us feels comfortable in their own space without the anxiety of wanting to leave when there is no viable escape outside.
The game is hard. But rules are not set in stone.