As the virus sweeps across the country, bringing the chaotic world to a halt, the devil’s workshop seems to have taken a toll on the empty minds of many. Negative emotions, vibes and overthinking, as deadly as the virus, are pushing people to the brim of depression. Yet, this long unexpected pause, has given me a chance to gaze back in my 4 years of architectural education, highlighting the importance of spaces, punctures and colours in developing emotions, and, a new idea of designing positivity i.e positive thoughts inculcated in the human mind, breathed its first.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2022

Honorable Mention | RTF Designer’s Days of Quarantine 2020

Category: Essay Writing
Participant: Ruchika Deshpande
Profession: Student
City: Pune


Architecture emphasizes playing with forms to have maximum light, ventilation i.e comfort. The same directly applies to the human body in the form of dancing wherein we allow the body to flow with the music, imagining colours, and gaining peace of mind. So, designing false scenarios in our heads and dancing to its rhythm is one of the hobbies I inculcated in myself. Stressing on the importance of colours, yellow is the colour of brightness and this colour has unexpectedly made itself a vital part of my room interior during quarantine. Yellow rippled paint daubs on the wall paired with fluidity, spark up a sunrise in our minds to notify of the good times going to come in the near future.

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During academics, I had always thought of design as a complex process. But quarantine helped me realise the flow with which this process occurs. Design is present even in the smallest of small things. From how you arrange food on your dinner plate, to the contrast of yellow bell peppers in a lettuce salad, designing has made its presence felt, for me, in my day to day chores. Even looking at how washed utensils could be arranged for drying to obtain a drop pattern is amusing. Thus, I explored art in a very undramatic and unexpected way this quarantine.

Coping with the negative emotions generated due to boredom is fulfilled by dyeing various fabrics to generate our own pattern. And these dyes are not market bought, they are home made. Frustration and anger due to boredom get equalized as we beatup, slice, mince and dice various veggies to obtain the dye. Positive emotions of calmness are generated when we mix and ripple up the dye with water, and finally satisfaction is obtained,once you come up with an intricate pattern.This on a larger scale is even applicable to the layouts of the rooms in itself. The study room which was once on the verge of dying and was suffocating between the piles of mess, has now found fresh oxygen and clothes in the form of wall arts and painted sparrows are adorning the once webbed corners. Thus, quarantine has helped me realised the power of art to revive happiness in the human mind, and that art comes naturally in the smallest of details, if you are willing to observe.

Art and design doesnot only mean a visual character. This quarantine, thanks to the unseasonal rains, I was able to explore designing of sound, a field, I had never touched upon before. Simple stacking up of earthern pitchers, some filled with coarse rocks, cotton wool or mache, in the terrace, left for the rain drops to create a tune of their own is amusing. This play of tunes, also gathered the interest of many neighbours to help revive joy, that we were united like never before. This designing of ways to make people united for fighting against the virus, and reviving smiles, is the most important aspect of design I understood and explored this quarantine. This play of colours, sounds, and the negativity rid minds of people that was achieved through simple chore designs, is certainly my happy place for this quarantine, a place in the hearts of unity, untouched by man.

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Quarantine has changed the sensitivity of human minds towards those who share the planet with us. The once left over potted plant dishes, are now modified a little to hold some grain snacks for our flying friends. The over dried plant is now designed to be a perfect knotted nest for rest, of the flying visitors. Left over tyres from the garage , whinning under the black and grey of tar, are now painted, all natural, to be converted into paddling pools for stray dogs. This designing of products to help and care for other species is what, I think, makes us human. Thus major part of my quarantine was spent in designing inculcation of humanity. From designing friendly ways to approach and feed a stray, starving for weeks, to designing the perfect arrangement of water plants in the aquarium to maximize fish comfort, design is everywhere. Design made its way to the food bowl kept on the terrace, which used to get blown by the wind, now to be supported by a stand of waste brooms, to the very simple bolt made by a pencil attached to a groove made in the door to prevent the pet from coming to the study room. Design has eased previously difficult things, and has sorted out this quarantine, in a homely environment, better.

Talking about new hobbies inculcated, I have started my very own small cottage industry, selling and manufacturing mdf flowers, in different shapes and sizes for decorations. I took up the floral form, because I think flowers are the immediate source of calmness and peace, which could help us get rid of negativity. The different colour combinations I could play and explore with, and also the clients interest to create new patterns to redecorate his/her house, found me a new interest, An interest in designing minds.

Normally this study is called psychology, but I think that activities like colour playing, matching do contribute in some percentage to the happiness hormones secreted by the gland. Neighbours who were all frustrated, sitting on their sofas, as idle as stones, are now suggesting ways to bring up more patterns and colour combinations according to their likings for their own homes. This, I think, brought up the hidden design talent in unawared individuals, and this forms the base of my happy place.The design of flowers, imbibing positivity, to the hidden design talents of our society. Artistic values improve themselves as I think of new ways of material exploration, in this limited stock, limited travel era.

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Covid 19 has taken a great toll on human life and one of the most preventive measures to be used against this deadly virus, is the use of face masks. Designing face masks in the limited fabric available, searching new materials to be used instead of elastic, and making it more and more pocket friendly, because of the starving money collections, has taken up the vast of the time period of my quarantine. Home made face masks, in colours of calmness, positivity and peace i.

e blue, yellow and green, successive dyeing for shades, and trying to make them a little fancier for kids, so that they would enjoy wearing them was challenging. The challenge was further accelerated as the elastic stocks ended, and I had to play with Velcro and rubber to achieve the same comfort that the elastic mask offered.

To sum in a nutshell, this quarantine period was an important period of self introspection and finding the nooks and niches of my daily middle class life, were design was hidden. This designing has brought out a better version of me, a sensitive and more humane version ,a version, I promise never to forget. Likewise,

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“ Design is at our arms, design is at our feet,
Design falls in our eyes, as emotions and art together meet…..
Design makes us better, design makes us aware of the heart,
Design breaks the negativity, and joins the heart, previously broken apart….”

Author

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022