As people have been confined indoors for a long time now, it is predicted that many will spend more in doing up their houses in the future. In focus will be the technology that provides effective living such as home-based entertainment technologies and energy-saving smart appliances. These are the key takeaways from Stimulus 2020’s panel discussion on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Home sector.
Titled ‘Integrating Aesthetics with Sustainability’ the panel was moderated by Pierre Arnaud- MD, Ultraconfidential Design and had Yogesh Chaudhary- Director, Jaipur Rugs, Seetu Kohli- Interior Designer, Sandeep Nair- Co-Founder, Audire and Jahan Tahiliani- CEO, Ahilia Homes as speakers.
The webinar organised by The Global Luxury Group, Crosshairs Communications (PR Partner) and WIN (Women Inspiring Network – Content Partner) had 70 speakers across 14 panel discussions explore the way ahead in fields of media, luxury, lifestyle, leadership and other industries.
Below are the excerpts from the panel discussion:
Do you think sustainability and luxury are compatible? Seetu Kohli: It’s a very tough question but a very real one. Luxury and sustainability are 100 per cent compatible. Some of the luxury brands that I know have started activating it. These brands are not just about retail and money-making but are also acting as influencers. They influence society. Whatever you are doing, you have to ask yourself whether that activity is sustainable. At the end of the day, it is about design and craftsmanship and it has to be sustainable and natural. It’s totally doable and I think it’s going to be done in a very big way, going forward.
Could you give examples of such sustainable brands? Seetu Kohli: I am more into homes, so I’ll speak about that. I deal with companies like Luxury Living that manufacture for brands like Fendi Casa, Bentley Homes, Trussardi. They have created a line of products, which use sustainable and natural materials. But we have started talking (more) about (it), after all this (referring to COVID-19 and the lockdown). We need to lead the change. Brands like LVMH, Armani, Armani Casa have been working on it. They have been talking about reinventing the wheel and they are going to come back with better and more sustainable solutions.
Click here to read about how the pandemic is steering the auto sector towards greener vehicles.
How do you see technological innovation in the home segment progressing in the future? Sandeep Nair: We are already using a lot of smart technology in homes. We are using light sensors that regulate the amount of light entering the house. We are looking at smart blinds, curtains and things like that to manage the light. This is to basically reduce the energy costs incurred by people. A lot of products and home appliances will, in the future, be enabled by the internet. They are going to have smart features and conserve a lot of energy. From the perspective of Audire Technologies (which deals in home theatre and audio solutions), we have seen that electronics has gone through a huge transformation in the past couple of decades. We now use very little energy to create a lot more impact in terms of audio and video. Amplifiers and projectors are far more power-efficient right now. When you look at it from a single person or a single household, it doesn’t make too much sense, but when you look at the (total) amount of products being used across the world, there’s a huge impact.
As more people spend more time in their homes due to the lockdown, will they invest more in their residences? Sandeep Nair: Oh absolutely! Without sounding too optimistic, I can say that this may be one of those events that would propel the home industry in the future. People are paying more attention to the quality of their homes and the amount of entertainment and comfort they are getting from their homes. And if you are able to be entertained in a very good way in your house, be it watching a movie or listening to music or anything of that kind, and you can be with your family and keep the kids under control, that is a big win. People in the future might be looking at more home-based technology rather than going out to get the same kind of entertainment.
Do you think the impact of social distancing will change the way we consume entertainment? Sandeep Nair: Absolutely! I think that in any kind of scenario in which people have to sit or stand close together for extended periods of time is going to be something that will be really affected in the future. For example, I don’t think that people are going to go back to theatres so easily because there, they are spending time with people that they don’t know at all. Entertainment is now going to come to your house rather than you having to go out. That’s going to be the fundamental change. I think that it would make more sense for us to have smaller gatherings at our house rather than going to a nightclub.
Do you think that architectural design in the near future may incorporate some of the aspects of social distancing in design? Jahan Tahiliani: It’s an interesting question. One of the intents of architectural design is to initiate an interaction. And a mandate that’s very common for architects. We also know that there is a need for open-air and communal spaces, which is crucial for our physical and mental well being. It’s important that we incorporate these things in a space. That was the mandate until say one month ago. But I definitely think that the way we use public spaces is now going to change and home working spaces will be the need of the hour. I can see many of us doing such formal video calls on this level and it might become the norm. While we will continue to build public spaces, the way people build their homes will change.
Yogesh Chaudhary: First of all, consumers will want a lot more customisation and brands will have to be more elaborate in their offerings. No longer can you (brands) paint a product by telling a story, but will have to offer products that are really sustainable. Earlier, we would just run around and never have the time to be home but now that we have spent so much time on that sofa or maybe that bed, we will finally want to change and renovate it. I think this a great time for brands to capture this market. A flip side to this is that people are going to be a lot more conscious while spending their money and that is something to watch out (for). Home design brands need to make sure that they communicate their messages in the right way digitally.
Can you anticipate that once the lockdown is lifted, will there be a rush in certain shops, as we saw with the Hermes store in China? Yogesh Chaudhary: I think so. People are spending so much time at homenow that there, may be, a lot of things that they want to change (in their homes), which they will once the lockdown is lifted. I, too, have been wanting to replace certain things in my house.