Redesigning home spaces for our pandemic times

Interior designer Joy Gladys Jabile-Ejercito says it is time to rethink the use of space and use Siri and other voice-command apps more.

Covid-19 has dramatically changed our lives, especially the way we relate to space. Social distancing is the norm and various structures have to adjust to this crucial form of self-protection.

Work from home (WFH) arrangements now make it necessary to reconfigure living spaces to conform to the new combinations of form and function. This challenge now falls into the territory of interior designers who have to look at homes and public areas through a new lens.

According to interior designer and general contractor Joy Gladys Jabile-Ejercito, this pandemic should not necessarily be a bad thing for the interior design profession. “Interior designers have always been responsive to changes in the culture, and those who adapted, survived, and brought the industry along with them.”

Interior designer Joy Gladys Jabile-Ejercito: Touchless technology that are voice- and cellphone-activated will be used more in public spaces and homes.

She adds that the profession went through World War 1 and 2 and, like Bauhaus, educational institutions believed in the transformative skill of design. “Just as the ‘60s and ‘70s worked on the open spaces in homes and offices, this pandemic will transform society in realizing that they can still work productively from home.”

‘We are at a curve point where we will look at spaces as a result of what we have been through.’

Ejercito, the general manager and principal designer of JJE Design and Construct (JJEDC), has been in the industry for 26 years. She predicts that in the next normal, open spaces in homes, offices, public spaces will be at a decline. “At home, there will be a Transition Zone with the Sanitizing Area and Changing Area, a Work Space, Home-School Area, and Virtual Meet-Up Area. A strong wifi connection is very important and it is now becoming one of the basic needs, aside from food, clothing, shelter, water, and electricity. This quarantine has inspired people to nest and re-decorate. In the age of pandemic, the home has become our world. Everyone wants to take care of their wellness and well-being at home to support the body, mind, and spirit throughout this difficult and challenging times.”

Greenery and vertical gardens offer relief in interior spaces.


Ejercito says there will be new elements as the new normal migrates into the next normal. She offers several ideas:

  • The use of close scheme instead of open plan, and separate spaces to avoid the rapid spread of the virus. The interiors will focus on the health and safety of its users such as having a sanitizing area. People will avoid the crowd so common areas will be more spacious for that physical distancing.
  • Public spaces — and even homes — will move toward more automation to mitigate contagion. There will be speeding up of the development of touchless technology that are automated, voice-activated, hands-free, cellphone-controlled. Eventually, there will also be the profuse use of Siri.
  • Interior designers will specify and recommend antibacterial finishes, including those that already exist, like copper. They will also be including design nudges to direct everyone to where they can sanitize or wash their hands and specification of the RFID technology for temperature screening or the UV Light for disinfecting spaces.
  • There will be the use of bold and bright colors in the interiors to help support one’s well-being. It is expected that yellows will emerge to brighten up a space, blue to relax, and shades of green to re-energize and rejuvenate. Greeneries will be incorporated such as vertical gardens. with artificial light to make plants grow.
  • Material things now have lesser relevance. People can live with less, but they will have a stronger sense of community, and will have a greater sensitivity towards the environment. That’s why local design and craftsmanship will be a rising trend to help the economy recover.
  • Certain elements that are standard in the healthcare facilities might be applied in public spaces such as reduction of the number of flat surfaces where germs can sit and installation of proper ventilation systems.
Local materials, design and craftsmanship will be a rising trend to help the economy recover.

Ejercito adds, “We are at a curve point where we will look at spaces as a result of what we have been through. It is the responsibility of the interior designer to lead the change. Industry practitioners should work together and collaborate to be able to help solve, professionally, their client’s problems to make their lives easier and their home and work places into more beautiful, functional, comfortable, and safe spaces during and after this crisis.”

As for the construction and general contracting, she says that time frames for building will slow down due to the new routine at the site and barracks. Job site visits, work completion, and installations will now be on a case-to-case basis. Some projects will be vetted through web tools whenever possible. Employers will be responsible for the safety not only of their workers but also of the clients with protocols/measures and back-up plans that will need to be followed at the site, barracks, and office.