On the sofa with
Lockdown Landscape from London
Q: How are you finding lockdown? Who are you locked down with?
A: I’m locked down with my partner Jeremy. He’s working from home and is occupying our living room. Meanwhile I’m working from SWA’s office next door, as I do habitually. The only variance is that I’m rattling around alone in this large space. Strangely familiar but oddly different too. I am finding myself working more efficiently – fewer interruptions so total focus – and at the end of the day I’m exhausted. All my good intentions to pace myself and get a better life/work balance have not been realised! The lack of variety in my routine is beginning to grate but my garden is proving a welcome release valve.
Q: What are you reading / watching and working on?
A: I’m finding, after a day fully focussed on screen, that the last thing I want to do in the evening is stare at a screen again! So I’m reading books and have already read two early Hilary Mantells, Mohsen Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet and am also reading Roszika Parker’s The Subversive Stitch. We have set up a Zoom book club with two other couples. We are reading six books and have three weeks between discussions. We have books between the end of the 18th century and the 1990s, an interesting selection, several of which I’ve never read. I have made a winter coat out of some fabric I bought last summer and completed a difficult jigsaw. I’m trying not to fixate on the news but trying to retain my equilibrium by keeping in touch with longer term, more ‘grounding’ activities.
Q: How do you think the design sector will pivot post-covid? Has anything good come from it, do you think?
A: I sincerely hope we don’t go back to business as usual, focussed only on making money (or keeping afloat) or fetishizing our own fixations. Instead, we need to regain the connection with people (users) as the central focus of our mission. This means engaging diverse types of people and being more imaginative about all types of buildings. We can imagine new spatial thinking to care homes, healthcare centres and hospitals, offices, homes (especially new models where mutual support can be shared), open spaces and transport infrastructure. Flexible working will become much more commonplace which will save time and potentially improve productivity. We are going to live differently, more locally, more supportively and, hopefully, with less impact on the planet.
As Covid is actually a crisis of ecology, we need to see this as a wake-up call for spurring our responses to climate change and find a renewed accommodation with the natural world.
Q: If you could travel anywhere today, where would it be and why?
A: I’d be in our family house on the coast in Norfolk, with the wide horizon of the North Sea stretching ahead, making me feel connected to the world again.
Q: What’s the first thing you are going to do when lockdown ends?
A: Go for a long bike ride and stay away for a bit.