Establishments after Covid-19: rethinking spaces and furnishings
Invest during the crisis. This is one of the most frequently-heard pieces of advices of recent weeks. And one investment that seems absolutely essential right now concerns the architecture and furnishings of catering establishments. We start with the most urgent requirement: how to successfully ensure social distancing.
“First a brief consideration: it is becoming increasingly clear that we will not emerge from this situation unless all our efforts move in the same direction,” says Matteo Vinco da Sesso Perini, co-founder & interior architect of the online design website Restylit.com. “Help will certainly be needed also in the form of reduced bureaucracy for the sector, but it is also important that hospitality entrepreneurs invest even more in their activities. The most striking architectural modifications that will change the look of establishments will undoubtedly be the creation of mezzanine floors and alterations to installations to ensure an adequate exchange of air, along with changes to the main door and windows (entrance and bathrooms) by installing automated systems. At the moment, though, the demands coming from the market suggest that attention should first be focused on all the various things that need to be done straightaway, quickly and easily. These include rethinking the interior furnishings, the tables and chairs, the use of Plexiglas partitions, and the organisation of outdoor spaces to give more breathing space to businesses with access to wide pavements, terraces or gardens.”
But what form exactly will the new layout take? We have seen it done in China, and now it is Italy’s turn. One of the first things to do is to install modular Plexiglas panels which at the moment seem the only solution that can allow bars and restaurants to re-open safely.
“As a result of the emergency and the need to rethink spaces, we have created in our Research Centre, a possible solution to propose to our clients in the Contract sector,” says Stefano Zajotti, design & communication manager at EMU. “This is a Plexiglas panel that produces a certain degree of social distancing, and allows establishments to keep the highest number of places inside.”
Floriana Nardi, CEO of Nardi and head of marketing & communication, is taking a similar approach.
“Our contract sector catalogue already includes many ideas for tables and chairs of different sizes that are easy to move around, with folding chairs, and tables with fold-down tops. As for outdoor areas, I think the answer is certainly positioning tables further apart but also, where possible, the introduction of movable partitions that also create a physical barrier between the tables, and indicate routes through the space that can be changed according to need, considering in particular the route to the till and to the bathrooms. We propose an eco-friendly modular partition that is practical and can be adapted to different requirements. The many requests we are receiving include those for products that are easy to sanitise repeatedly. In this sense polypropylene, the material we mainly use for our furnishing complements, is an excellent answer because it can be cleaned very frequently, and it is non-toxic, anti-static and completely recyclable.”