Thinking for, and beyond, COVID-19

Responsive. Resilient. Restorative. Design's 3 R'S are as active as ever...

If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the resilience of designers when responding to a crisis - and thinking beyond it. The dire need to provide new solutions has been met by a rapid-fire slew of adaptations and inventions. But with similar fortitude, designers have continued to tackle broader issues, ones that will, unfortunately, persist once the pandemic subsides. Here, are just a few innovations, drawn from across the globe, that were born in the time of the Coronavirus.


KintsugiCourt from designboom on Vimeo.

Instead of discarding broken pottery, traditional Japanese Kintsugi fills cracked seams with gold. Victor Solomon has applied this redemptive technique to restore a neglected basketball court in South Los Angeles, USA. Both his act, and the act of playing a team sport itself, point to the power of healing and unification.


Highlighting the prevalence of prescription drugs, which have become as common as insects, Dutch designer Meerel Slootheer’s Pharma project places pills at the centre of laser-cut bug sculptures to draw attention to the experience of being placed on medication.


The annual Burning Man art festival in the Nevada Desert, USA - which was founded by Design Indaba Alumnus, the late Larry Harvey - has been forced to go virtual for 2020. Architect John Marx and artist Absinthia Vermut are presenting a virtual version of their Museum of No Spectators (MoNS). MoNs questions what a museum should be, and explores the Burning Man philosophy that each person is a participant, rather than an attendee. Now, you don’t have to be in Nevada to take a tour…


Design Indaba Alumnus and Nordic designer/artist Olafur Eliasson is at it again with his new AR App for kids, Earth Speakr. The App is designed to conscientize children and alert them to concerns about the state of the planet.


A temporary, waiter-less café pop-up in Tokyo, designed by Japanese superstar Nendo, has pioneered barista-less coffee. The slick self-service Gacha Gacha Coffee house for the Maruyama Coffee brand was completely unstaffed and made making your own Cuppa Joe seem sexy.

The future is likely to experience even more contactless customer service outlets. Image: Supplied.


An outdoor installation occupying the plaza of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, USA, references trees and the flight patterns of migratory birds. Providing both seating and shade, the netted canopy - designed by New York-based firm SO-IL - explores Atlanta’s relationship with the natural world.

The bright green mesh structure is made from architectural netting pulled over a metal framework. Image by Fredrik Brauer.


Design Indaba Alumnus and Massive Change author and designer Bruce Mau has brought out a new book, MC24. Its pages outline 24 principles for positive transformation. Mau looks at the bright side of life and work, even in the darkest of times…


Nervous of flying during the pandemic? Don Marta Scarampi’s travel-ready, breathable onesie for a protective layer while in the air. The jumpsuit goes on over your outfit and can be discarded and dry-cleaned on arrival.

Not just for airline travel, the Deco Travel Collection can be used for any public commute, from an uber to a bus, to a train... Image by Marta Scarampi.