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The Future Post-Pandemic Home on the Informing Choices Minipod

I was recently honored to be invited as a speaker at Steve Wells Minipod series “Informing Choices” along with my fellow futurist and social scientist Alexandra Whittington. Listen to the episode below.

“As we have seen across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has morphed from a health crisis, to an economic crisis, to a social crisis, and increasingly a political crisis. And as society attempts to come to terms with changing how we live our lives during the pandemic, attention begins to focus the desirability or returning to “normal” compared to the advantage (or horrendous prospect, depending our one’s point of view) of transitioning to a “new normal”. The question to pose is, what might new normal look like? We are going to look at one aspect of this very broad question. So, to talk about The Future Post-Pandemic Home, US-based futurists Alex Whittington and Sylvia Gallusser join me on the podcast.” (Steve Wells)

Please find below a partial transcript of the podcast:

Informing Choices – Minipod, “The Future Post-Pandemic Home”

– Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Sylvia Gallusser


Hi, my name is Sylvia Gallusser. I am based in San Francisco, California. I am a Futurist – that is a Strategic Foresight consultant and a Future Fiction author. I am the Founder of an initiative called Silicon Humanism dedicated to the possibilities and impact of technology on our human and social future. I am also a Board Member at Grey Swan Guild, a sensemaking organization created 10 months ago and now counting close to 1000 members, where I have the pleasure to work with amazing individuals such as Alexandra.

How did the project come about and what are the motivations behind participation?

First of all, the Home seemed to be a key element of what was changing during the pandemic. The home became a place of work, a place of education, with increased hygiene constraints… Layers upon layers added in one place. This inspired me a Tetris metaphor. The space is constrained, time is accelerating, and we need to constantly reorganize blocks, furniture, spaces, kids, pets, work tasks, on top of more traditional chores. So it was a very personal experimentation of the home that got me into the project.

But while exploring this, I also came across signals of hidden violence: mental health issues, physical violence towards kids, abuse towards women, loneliness of the elderly, students being distressed. To share one statistic that really got me frightened. Save the Children revealed that half a million additional underage girls risk being forced into child marriage and one million additional are expected to become pregnant in 2020 as a result of school closure, education interruption and the economic impact of the pandemic.

That’s why along with 6 other contributors at Grey Swan Guild, I decided to engage into the topic of the Home as a field to conduct anthropological work.

What are the objectives for the project? 

Grey Swan Guild is a Global League of Sensemakers, created in the aftermath of the pandemic in April 2020. The Grey Swan Guild is always looking to generate ideas collectively and to support rebuilding a better human experience. In that specific case, we didn’t want to just produce a report, we also wanted to adopt a creative approach with multimedia material, future fiction, and crowdsourced artifacts, in order to:

1/ provoke thoughts, emotions, and empathy, 

2/ raise awareness towards current and future challenges, 

and 3/ provide resources. 

The output will be a landing page representing a home, with each of the rooms linking to a short content related to the room function (poetry reading, fiction text, essay, audio file, set of pictures, video, charts, etc.)

Form Factor of the project:

– Alex has written 3 wonderful future short stories. 

– I personally focused on mental health and studied the impact on specific demographics (women, kids, the elderly, the lonely). I have developed audio fictions, reenacting mental health hotline conversations, along with a team of mental health practitioners and hotline responders, led by psychologist Paul Krauss, in order to illustrate the despair and suggest potential ways out. We crafted 3 phone conversations featuring a young man single and living in precarious conditions in an infested home, an 80-year old woman living alone and falling with dramatic consequences, and a mother of three repeatedly abused and assaulted by her husband. These three episodes of 6-8 minutes will be included in the Pandemic Home project.

– We also created a Museum of Pandemic Home Artifacts. We crowdsourced pictures of everyday objects that gained place in our homes during the pandemic with the intent to reflect on what has changed, what has become more important, etc.

– I cannot wait to see the page live and share it with the public. It should be available within a week! 

What are some of the ideas you are already seeing in how families might live in the future?

Regarding the pandemic home artifacts, we noticed a change in everyday behaviors: in the way we eat, in the way we dress, in our hygiene routines. Not too surprising. What caught our attention however was a lot of creativity: renewing games and interactions with kids, turning everyday events into a creative and immersive experience. And finally the fact that we stick to physical objects to complement our online experiences of work and learning.

We also anticipate changes in the way we design and remodel our homes. By identifying underlying trends in home design, I came up with 4 archetypes of homes:

  1. Healthy homes. The ideal home will offer a repurposed entrance to leave our shoes, a sink near the door, a utility cupboard for our hygiene equipment. Easily cleanable surfaces will be favored, as well as air filtration systems, touchless faucets, and bacteria-resistant paint.
  2. Fluid homes. Modularity will be key, with more broken plans and less underutilized spaces. Rooms will be repurposed. Open plan areas will foster community living, similar to a WeWork space – or a WeLive space that will be reinvented along the day. Parents occupy the space during the workday, kids join for schoolwork times, family members come together to socialize in the evening.
  3. Sustainable bunker-homes. Solar panels, battery-charging stations, and urban farming will become more popular for self-sufficiency, so that we don’t need to rely on the exterior. The home will become a danger-proofed cell from a chaotic and threatening outside world. At the same time, it will contribute to a gain in sustainability. 

Compliant homes. The regulation that applies to office furniture and air quality in corporate offices will need to apply in our homes, from ergonomic kitchen chairs to humidifiers. Ambient technology will stimulate social interaction and preserve mental health. A hotline could be installed, so that the elderly, the fragile, the lonely can be cared for from a distance.


Published by Sylvia

Futurist - Futures Thinking & Strategic Foresight

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