Page 16 - New England Condominium May 2021
P. 16

and empathy—not terms we usually ascribe  
to  the work  we  do,” Mullendore  continues,  
“yet they have been wonderfully incorpo- 
rated into just getting through this period  
Materials & Technology 
With today’s emphasis on wellness and  
cleanliness, many designers are recommend- 
ing fabrics, surfaces, and structures that have  
antimicrobial properties or that are easy and  
safe to keep clean and free of germs. Simple  
adjustments like “not as many throw pillows”  
in lobbies and common areas, as recom- 
mended by Milazzo Smith, make for fewer  
touchable surfaces to clean and fewer pass- 
able items that can spread germs. She has  
also seen many homeowners who had been  
putting off improvements to kitchens and  
bathrooms taking this opportunity to do that  
work—and to incorporate not only easily  
cleanable materials, but also room for stor- 
age of more cleaning supplies and other bulk  
 -MAY 2021   
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2021  -  10:00 AM TO 4:00 PM 
(Our lawyers said we had to warn you.) 
panies are giving up some of their big, expen- 
sive office spaces. So I have a lot of clients in  
that position who are looking to make more  
permanent  changes  to  their  workspaces.  I  
have other clients who are not so sure wheth- 
er they are going back to an office, and they’re  
making more temporary changes so they can  
undo those changes quickly.” 
The same holds true for common and  
amenity spaces in multifamily communi- 
ties,  say  the experts.  Predicting that  tele- 
commuting will remain prevalent in the  
city’s workforce, designers at New York  
City-based ALine “foresee that there will  
be  demand  for  either  flexible  coworking  
spaces or single occupancy pods within  
residential buildings.” Knowing that ame- 
nity space can be limited in co-op and  
condo buildings, ALine suggests in a recent  
blog post “to create an amenity space that  
has flexibility for many different uses” by  
installing convertible furniture or furnish- 
ings that are easy to rearrange or to store  
away. Some examples they give include  
“collapsible conference tables, segmental  
seating arrangements, pop-up desks,  and  
modular wall panels.”  
Flexibility is also essential for designers  
and clients themselves. Like no other time  
before it, the Era of COVID has forced  
people to adapt quickly, to put their lives  
on hold, and to endure a constantly chang- 
ing stream of guidance and regulations  
with virtually no warning. While they look  
to imbue spaces with flexibility, both de- 
signers and their clients also have had to  
tap into their own ability to be flexible and  
understanding to make these projects suc- 
cessful. Architect and interior designer Eric  
Mullendore, whose eponymous firm has  
reimagined and refreshed interior spaces in  
Chicago condos and co-ops for nearly 20  
years, tells  
New England Condominium  
during COVID, “I have seen clients displaced  
and their routines interrupted, and have seen  
great patience in accommodating their proj- 
ects being delayed months after they initially  
expected it to be completed. 
“Patience and understanding, compassion  
continued from page 9 
For wellness upgrades in common areas,  
ALine studios provides a list of products and  
materials that have aesthetic as well as func- 
tional appeal. They recommend Type II vinyl  
wallcovering  for “its  durability, cleanability,  
and customization options,” noting that there  
are yet more wallcovering products that can  
be  cleaned  with harsher  chemicals  such  as  
bleach without fading or deteriorating. Such  
fabrics can also be considered for furnishings  
in common areas, they say.  
For countertops and reception desks,  
ALine recommends non-porous materials  
“I think any time  
that you spend time at  
your home, you should  
be inspired, and you  
should be nourished  
and you should be  
—Gia Milazzo Smith  
like quartz and soapstone for their ease of  
cleaning and maintaining. Quartz in par- 
ticular  is  durable,  versatile,  and  attractive,  
they say. Without pores or holes, it is easier to  
disinfect and is also stain-resistant. “Consid- 
ering that quartz may not fit into every build- 
ing’s aesthetic or budget,” notes ALine, “there  
is the option to apply quartz to the writing  
surface of a desk only.” 
“For high end buildings that wish to pro- 
mote wellness without sacrificing design,”  
ALine offers upscale hand sanitizer dispens- 
ers that “are available in a variety of colors,  
finishes, and materials. Some can even be  
customized with room numbers and light- 
ing,” they say in their blog. Similarly, they  
suggest “upscale partitions that can be used  
in place of the ubiquitous plexi-glass divid- 
ers” that are in place for COVID protection  
at front desks and doorman stations through- 
out co-ops and condos nationwide.   
Interior designers also mention more  
high-tech improvements like touchless eleva- 
tors, entries, and lighting, and smart home  
controls that provide health and safety en- 
hancement while  also being  “aesthetically  
pleasing in their elegance and simplicity,” ac- 
cording to Rodriguez. Other health-focused  
technology—such as ventilation systems with  
UV light or high-efficiency filters—are com- 
pletely invisible to the resident, she continues. 
Bringing the Outdoors In 
Another popular element in post-COVID  
design, both for common spaces and indi- 
vidual residences, is the installation of natu- 
ral elements into the indoor environment.  
“In  common  areas  where  there’s  a  need  to  
enforce separation and distancing,” says Ro- 
driguez, “greenery and planters can help ac- 
complish this goal in a way that actually en- 
hances the space’s aesthetic appeal.” In fact,  
Rodriguez continues, the ongoing distancing  
and isolation experienced during the COVID  
pandemic has reinforced the value of what  
the pros call “biophilic design”—elements of  
interior design that incorporate and/or mim- 
ic aesthetic and sensory characteristics from  
the natural world. 
“Staying indoors for months on end dur- 
ing quarantine has left many of us longing for  
some type of connection to nature and the  
great outdoors,” reports ALine’s blog. While  
biophilia doesn’t kill COVID or other germs,  
they say, it has been shown to improve mental  
health, boost productivity, and enhance air  
quality. Wellness considerations were top of  
mind before the pandemic started, but they  
have taken on even more importance as the  
need to prevent viral spread has become an  
existential imperative. 
Adds Rodriguez, “In terms of color and  
materials,  we’ve  seen  a  movement  towards  
warmer, neutral tones that have a calming  
and soothing effect—something that’s espe- 
cially important when people are spending so  
much time at home. Taking inspiration from  
nature, materials and colors are an important  
element of biophilic design, which aims to re- 
connect people to the natural environment.” 
Where possible, multifamily buildings  
and communities are using design to make  
the most of the literal outdoors by expanding  
access to light and air, creating indoor-out- 
door entries and lobbies, or installing green  
walls and other organic materials. Ground- 
up design is putting much more emphasis  
on both private outdoor spaces like balconies  
and terraces and common outdoor elements  
like roof decks and courtyards. “The demand  
for apartments with balconies and outdoor  
space has surged dramatically,” notes ALine.  
Rodriguez agrees. “[The year] 2020 un- 
derscored the value of outdoor spaces. A  
balcony or a terrace felt essential during the  
pandemic, but the sense of serenity and sanc- 
tuary that people find in these spaces will  
always be important. And as the mental and  
physical health benefits of biophilic design  
and access to light and air continue to make  
themselves known, more people will look for  
homes that offer outdoor access.” 
Uplifting By Design 
By and large, the attitude of interior de- 
signers is that home should always be a  
place of comfort and sanctuary. According  
to them, having more people spending more  
time  within  the  walls  of  their  homes  than  
ever before this past year-plus has forced pro- 
fessionals in the field to reexamine both their  
use of space and the way the space influences  
them. “My experience,” says Mullendore, “is  
that this period of COVID has challenged  
us all—not only our use of spaces, but it has  
tapped deep into our sense of humanity.” 
continued on page 17 
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