Design in the Age of Coronavirus: How the Pandemic Has Made Designers Think Differently

Initio Fine Arts at Cromwell Place

The pandemic has left nothing untouched – not even design. Here, Initio Fine Arts explore what design might look like in a post-coronavirus world.

In a year of great change, we have all been forced to rethink physical contact and social interaction, the workplace, and indeed work itself. However, there are other concepts, less obvious ones, which demand reconceiving in the wake of Coronavirus. Like design.

Initio Fine Arts are a young, multicultural, forward-thinking contemporary design gallery. Here, ahead of their debut show at Cromwell Place, we speak to Co-Founder Marie Tourre de Robien about the ways in which design might have to reinvent itself in the wake of a worldwide pandemic.

Hi Marie. It’s been a strange year. How has the pandemic affected your gallery?

The biggest challenge was to choose where to focus our resources, and to be able to adjust quickly if needed. We decided to organise less exhibitions this year, and concentrate more on artist research. Of course, the organisation of shows and participation to fairs had to be reviewed, too. Most importantly, we wanted to keep in touch with our artists, collectors, and friends, while keeping our spirits up. Our philosophy is to bring out positivity from all situations. Therefore, when the opening week of Cromwell Place was confirmed, we knew that we wanted to be part of it.

Initio Fine Arts' new exhibition at Cromwell Place

What have you been doing to adapt during these difficult times?

We’ve been focusing on how to keep our clients engaged and learn how to be digitally more accessible and impactful. We have learnt a lot about Instagram and Facebook adverts, and, in fact, we are in the process of launching a more customer-friendly website. On the creative side, we had time to (re)discover many amazing talents in France and Hungary, which also led to the organization of our upcoming show at Cromwell Place, showing the works of two incredible designers: Reda Amalou and Anna Horváth.

The pandemic forces us to look closer at our environment – it increases our consciousness about sustainability
Marie Tourre de Robien Initio Fine Arts

In what ways have artists and designers been adapting to, or responding to, the pandemic?

The creatives have had time to focus on their art, to keep on experimenting and creating work. Many of the artists and designers we work with have had several projects going on simultaneously and, in a way, this time allowed them to reconnect with their inspirations. We were actually discussing this topic with one of the designers we work with, Anna Horváth. She was mentioning how fascinated she was about how natural disasters, political oppression or, in our case, a pandemic can bring out artistic creativity and inner strengths!

Marie Tourre de Robien from Initio Fine Arts

How do you think designers will adapt to a post-coronavirus world? Will the events of 2020 have an effect what design looks like in one, two, even 10 years?

Contemporary design is constantly evolving and growing with its time. Designers who are interested in the environment, such as Horváth and Amalou, believe that the pandemic forces us to look closer at our environment. It increases our consciousness about sustainability, and I believe this awareness will strongly resonate in many design creations as we go forward.

Finding the right balance between digital presence and physical experiences is essential
Marie Tourre de Robien Initio Fine Arts

Do you think people will still view art and sculpture in-person as before? Or do you think the average person’s relationship with viewing art in public spaces will change?

I believe people who already have an interest in art will want to go back to having in-situ experiences. Once you have a taste for interacting with art, discovering a new artist in an exhibition, questioning what is in front of you, it seems that only experiencing this digitally would not be enough. Reda Amalou just presented his works at the Paris Design week, where the numbers of visitors was almost as high as in previous years. The main difference was that everyone was wearing face masks. Nonetheless, I am sure that we will be going back soon to openings and exhibitions.

Initio Fine Arts' new exhibition at Cromwell Place

In terms of art, what can galleries do now to ensure they keep up with the times in an ever-changing world?

Finding the right balance between digital presence and physical experiences is essential. The model Cromwell Place is proposing offers a great opportunity to do exhibitions without having to open a permanent physical space in London, which I believe is what many galleries will been aiming for. Flexibility and quick adjustment are becoming one of the most important abilities nowadays. From our side, we are more and more excited to curate exhibitions with an aim to create interiors, rather than white cube-like arrangements.


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