Social Distancing designs for a post-quarantine future that define humanity’s new norm

Quarantine – we are living with it but we want to live without it! The long dark COVID-19 tunnel is ongoing and as the curfew beings to relax across the globe, we see light shining at the end of this tunnel. But let’s take a moment to think of the world that we will see once we come out – for starters, we will never take a handshake or a hug for granted, we will look at nature around us with a fresh, grateful perspective while being more conscious of our daily interactions. Basically, we have changed and so will the world around us. What changes do you ask? The answer is simple – the world shall continue social distancing! The designs showcased here are a glimpse of how designers and authorities around the world are re-imagining our existing settings to make them safer for the general public. Imagine yourself in these settings and prepare for the new normal we will step out in, hopefully soon!

This is what flying economy class could look like post COVID-19! Inspired by the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, the Janus seat is the future of travel. This design could be the new norm in the airline industry to allow passengers some degree of isolation and distancing while sitting next to each other. The first concept of the two-faced Janus seat by Aviointeriors simply reverses the center seat and separates all three passengers with a shield made of transparent material. This creates a protective barrier for everyone while giving each passenger their own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle.

Now this one is sure to tickle some funny bones! Rumour has it that Burger King has been testing handing out giant crowns to ensure their patrons maintain social distancing! Curious? We are too! Burger King’s social media account revealed that the burger giant is giving out these folded crowns that users have to build themselves. Fun aside, it is a socially responsible step that should be replicated in crowded spaces to revise the concept of personal space and regain normalcy in these times.

Designers and leaders are working on innovative solutions that can help us get back to our routine lives faster while still practicing social distancing. One such brilliant idea is Plex’Eat, a visor-lamp, by Christophe Gernigon! Earth is reopening bit by bit and the first thing on everyone’s mind is grabbing a bite outside! Plex’Eat was designed for the new normal of dining out. Since we can’t wear masks while eating, Gernigon has created large, lamp-shaped, protective visors that are suspended over the diner’s upper body to keep them safe while enjoying their meal. The hanging shield is made of clear lightweight plexiglass which lets everyone enjoy social interaction without risking their safety.

We can’t honestly say life is back to normal till we have a way to bring back our educational institutions. The UK based Studio Curl la Tourelle Head has an idea that will help! Curl la Tourelle Head envisions having tents/pop-up teaching spaces being erected at schools to expand capacity for socially distanced learning and reduce the reliance on restricted circulation routes. The tent shows a radial positioning of the students spread out around the teacher who would now teach from the center of the tent. This new layout will allow more students to share the same space safely and provide multiple routes to navigate the school space, retaining their social distancing!

Qworkntine by Mohamed Radwan is an air-tight pod system that wants to make working in offices safe while we figure out long-term solutions. It protects the employees and can make it easy to monitor how many employees are in per square meter of the space – it also makes contact tracing convenient in larger offices. Its hexagonal shape lets companies arrange it in any format to suit their physical office – it is like assembling a beehive to keep all the bees healthy and happy! It can be customized to fit right-angled corners and can be elongated as per the needs.

There are rules enforced through instructions and then are cute ways to ensure they remain enforced. Leave it to the Japanese people to enforce these social distancing rules but in a kind and courteous manner. The Izu Shaboten zoo in Shizuoka, Japan, has employed capybara stuffed animals in its ‘forest animal’ restaurant to secure appropriate social distancing amid COVID-19 regulations. Now, social distancing or not, we would love to have a fun-filled lunch with these strategically placed cute plushies. Kind of takes us back to all those imaginary childhood tea parties with our toys, doesn’t it?

A restaurant in Amsterdam called Mediamatic has found a simple and adorable solution that ensures social distancing rules are applied. the restaurant has set small greenhouses along the Oosterdok river that allow for an intimate dinner for two. Using these greenhouses creates a more intimate setup, letting people discuss and speak things that are meant to be heard by the two of them, stay between the two of them! With a primary focus on safety, the waiters and staff at the hotel shall be wearing PPE and the solution aims to comfort and relieve the stress of this quarantine with a fine dining meal where you don’t worry about getting infected.

New York may be wounded but you can’t crush the spirit of its inhabitants! Now, while the world is “learning” how to come back to life again, these painted white circles by the authorities on Brooklyn’s Domino Park looks like a fun away to guide people while they sunbathe and spend some time outdoors this summer! The final responsibility always lies with the individuals, but small steps like these will help control chaos and make the world feel a little more ‘normal’ everywhere.

It’s sheerly uncanny timing that the Butterfly Aircraft Seat, submitted to A Design Awards last year, could nail the exact specifics of what’s needed in airline seats today! James Lee’s design uses partitions between seats to allow both passengers to enforce social distancing, and the seats are slightly offset too, with individual armrests so there’s really no situation where you could accidentally come in contact with the person behind you.

The Waya by Lazzarini Design aren’t homes or individual yachts, they’re societies with all the elements needed for sustenance. Smaller floating structures act as personal houses, while larger ones serve the purpose of hotels and community centers. The Wayaland floating community even has entertainment and recreational zones spanning gyms, cinemas, shops, floating beach clubs, as well as greenhouses for growing produce that helps feed the people on-board. The floating architectural units are made from fiberglass, carbon fiber, and steel, and even have large underwater spaces that help extend living/storage capabilities while allowing the Wayas to easily float upright on water.

There is no denying that the COVID-19 situation has changed the world and us – humans have suffered a blow but this also shows that if we behave in a responsible manner, we can co-exist with our limited resources with infinite potential (Elon Musk may have to drop his Mars plans if we improve!). The question is, how will we come out of this situation and utilize this ‘blank slate’ to define the new normal.