Social Kerning
Social Kerning

Social Kerning

As we have been readying our little studio space to reopen, we couldn’t help but recognize how different everything feels. It’s a bit like returning after being lost at sea. All the design and art books lying around being exactly where we left them on March 13th seem eerie now. The hum from monitors that have been waiting with peripherals charging has a high pitched tension to it. The whole thing is actually kind of haunting.

And attached to these physical objects are also memories of how we used to work. Four months ago, when a person or two would gather around and look at someone’s designs or ideas and get excited. Or even lean in to point something out or make a suggestion. Now the mere thought of that would make one reach out for a mask or rush for the soap.

Then of course there is the mental weight and sadness of the bright 2020 that we all saw industry-wide in February that has now been shattered for so many. We have all experienced hardship and life turbulence in one way or another through the course of the pandemic. We all know career friends who have lost jobs, been laid off or furloughed, or even perhaps in the scariest scenarios have spent time down with COVID-19.

It has been exhausting.

But now as we mask up and spread out the desks, rearrange our physical space and begin our daily sanitizing, it seems the kind of shake up that can lead to unique ideas and fun new design practices. Will the space added between one another subconsciously cause us to add more space within our designs? Or will it cause the opposite effect in our craving for closeness? Will we still want everything in bright, bold colors? Or will we collectively decide that happy, loud energy is no longer appropriate?

And then there is the consideration of our physical studio space. Let’s just agree that social distancing measures are not the most feng shui set of rules ever created. But again, maybe this is a moment that will cause  a change for the better. For starters, no one can work on top of one another anymore. Desk space and literal breathing room are requirements now and no longer nice-to-haves. If a designer’s workstation is kind of their own sacred temple, then another putting their hands on it is sacrilegious forevermore. And the old “mind if I drive” keyboard/mouse commandeering is now nothing more than an awkward memory.

“Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” - Charles Eames

Eames’s quote can be taken differently in an almost inspirational way given the times we live in. It seems like everything will begin to gel at some point. We will learn to enjoy the new ways of working together from a distance. And when the masks come off someday hopefully in the future, the environment around us with tons of extra space will be twice as refreshing.

Cheers to letting change be a good thing.

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