Design Community and Covid-19

The last couple weeks I have been receiving lots of messages from former students that now are colleagues, friends in the industry and of course vendors. Some were asking about job opportunities, checking on me and expressing concerns about the industry and the pandemic. I had a little voice inside me telling” Aida you need to speak up” Leave the fear behind and do it. My #DesignChats were born.

  • This is what had happened in the last three months in the Design industry:
  • A very High percentage of designers in most renowned designs firms have been laid off.
  • A lot of designers have had salary cuts or hours cut.
  • Some designers are working from home and multitasking as teachers, nanny’s, IT tech, Cooks,
    housekeeper etc
  • Plenty construction projects were canceled.
  • Senior Students ready to begin their first Job or internship in the summer: Cancelled
  • Study abroad: Cancelled
  • Graduation Ceremonies: Cancelled, Now via Zoom.

WOW, that is a lot in such a short time, right? One or two of these should be applicable to you… And all
this due to a Pandemic! Some mornings when the alarm goes off I asked myself if I just woke up of this
bad dream. But quickly realized is our current reality.

Are you in the group that is WFH? I’ll tell you what you are doing. 

  • Every night your ears hurts because of all the WebEx and zoom meetings you had during the
  • You are working 10-12 hours daily, but you are probably only reporting 8 hours or some half of
  • You live alone and haven’t had a one on one conversation in 4-6 weeks and that is driving you
  • You have a husband a dog and 2-3 kids and…well I don’t have to tell you what you are doing.
  • You are receiving 4-6 CEU email invitations per week…and attending NONE.
  • You live in your pajamas and you put a jacket or blazer on when the zoom meetings are camera
  • You urgently need Plotter and 2 more screens.

Yes. I understand you are facing a lot. Is all good. You will survive. This too shall pass. Hold on!

What if you are in the group that got laid off? What are you doing? Sleeping, playing with the puppy
and watching NETFLIX? Sounds fun but let me tell you good news about COVID-19… THIS IS
TEMPORARY- Business will be running again, and we will all start a “New Normal”. What is the new
normal? We shall see.

We are tired to hear that if you don’t do this or that during this quarantine then you are lazy or
unmotivated. No is OK to do nothing somedays, is OK to feel discourage, and overwhelmed.

I will share 5 simple things you could do during this time- and again No pressure- You will come out of
this as a different person- better or worse- you decide.

  1. Reach out to former professors, former coworkers, vendors, professional organizations that you
    belong and colleagues. Now is when you need your design community the most. In this industry
    is not about who you are- is about who you KNOW
    a. You are not alone; this is a global situation and the more you get to talk about it with
    others the better you will feel faster. You will find out how all are handling this situation
    and perhaps find new opportunities.
  2. Please repeat to yourself “My value as a person and professional doesn’t decrease based on some individual decision on adding me on the “Laid off List”
  3. Do something that you have been wanting to do for a long time but never had the TIME to do. Just one thing. Yoga, Meditation, exercise, baking, call a childhood friend, organize your closet…
  4. Read. About Design, or perhaps other topics that catch your attention like Business, personal finances, environmental psychology, Graphic Design, Color theory etc. a. If you are not a reader is unrealistic that you will read one book per week. Start with onethat really catches your attention.
  5. Stay connected and put yourself out there. Create or update your LinkedIn profile. This is the time to seat and update your resume, improve your portfolio and think about all the possible “Jobs” an interior Designer could be good at:
  • a. Online Design Consultation: If you are a residential designer this might be a good thing to try. The client would send you the pictures, videos and measurements of the spaces, you meet electronically once or twice to gather the design brief, then you start working in the proposal and voila’; You are now an Online Interior Designer- contactless and with clients in anywhere in the world.
  • b. Décor- Furniture stores: Eventually The stores would get back on business and these are good alternatives if you cannot quickly find a job in a design firm. Worst can happen is that you end up using your paycheck to decorate your entire home.
  • c. Furniture dealers: New design trend would arise after the pandemic and for sure the furniture dealers would have to adapt to it and provide the best solutions to the clients. Designers are always needed in these types of businesses.
  • d. Fabric, flooring, carpet brand reps: Usually people with Business backgrounds are prefer but you know what. I think that after this pandemic. More designers that know the industry from the root would be welcome to fill those positions.
  • e. Study: Wait no, no . I am not telling you to go back to school. But there are lots of fast paced programs, short courses, certificates, and seminars on different topics that you now find for FREE and ONLINE.

Pandemics are nothing new. We have had other Pandemics before with positive changes.

First Cholera Pandemic: Influenced the modern street grid. This 19 th century epidemics prompted the
introduction of sewage systems that required the roads above them to be wider and straighter along
with new zoning laws to prevent overcrowding.

When Cholera returned for a second round in 1849, the death toll exceeded 5,000 in the city of NY.
Through the 1800s, recurring cholera outbreaks left an indelible mark not only in term of death counts
but in spurring urban design elements such as wide boulevards and parks that transformed NY and other
major cities into the iconic metropolis we know today.

The Third Plage Pandemic



And other pandemics that if you google you will find about it.

I wish I have a magic stick and I could see the future on what Design would look like after COVID-19.

What I know is that we will all come out of this difficult time stronger than ever.

Email me to share your #quarantine story :

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