Like ours, we’re sure your social media feeds have been an ongoing stream of creative zoom party snapshots since lock-down commenced. Hen dos, stag dos, birthdays, baby showers – we have seen it all and to be fair, some of them have been really quite impressive!

Let’s face it, if there was ever a time to be creative, the time is now. In Placemaking, we have seen examples of creative use of space in Amsterdam with glass house dining. This isn’t a far cry from weather proof festive activations we have seen such as Coppa Club in London which offer a private dining experience as part of a wider experience. This is an element of activation design we expect to see more of in our return to the public realm. Customers will be able to enjoy experiences and city spaces, whilst feeling relaxed in the knowledge that they are safe as we collectively make our return to the new normal.

As part of the new normal, we have also seen the virtual move to the digital event experience with events such as Chelsea Flower Show undefeated as they took to social channels. Likewise, Howard De Walden who would usually be hosting thousands of visitors in Marylebone for their summer festival this week, have taken their content online. An exciting schedule of activities designed around a different daily theme. As the demands of the customer have changed, these events have delivered on interactive content and a buzz that keeps audiences engaged as we navigate this period.

Whilst the increased popularity around the virtual event can be seen as an opportunity to extended audience reach and in some cases additional commercial revenue in the present, moving forward imagination and engaging content in the physical, non-virtual experience will be key to drawing audiences back to the public realm to inject adrenaline and a sense of togetherness to a flat lining high street.

Creativity has been essential to move forward and as the infection rate reduces and the re-opening of the city approaches, we are looking at the next steps to enliven city space whilst also keeping spaces safe and public messaging clear. Brooklyn’s Domino Park demonstrates a new way to implement social distancing methods within a space. White circles reminiscent of a sports field create dwell spots for visitors to relax, whilst local Bid- Positively Putney have used personalised vinyl to send their social media messaging; a health and safety message with a personalised touch.

Something we have also seen during this time is public space used as a canvas for sending a public message, a topic hot in the press right now with the debate of the public statue and the questioning and concern over representation. In the instance of COVID-19, that messaging has been of thanks to the NHS and Key Workers with examples such as Wembley Park lighting up blue with a message of thanks. Following such loss and in the face of challenge, we are looking to see more use of the public realm as a place to share messages to the community in a positive, safe and unified way with interesting and innovative design that brings us back into public space.