COVID-19 and design

What lessons has it taught those of us in design?

How COVID-19 has highlighted the value of the culture of creativity, design and innovation

In the face of a health emergency such as the one we are experiencing, a host of solutions have come to light that seek to meet new needs in order to alleviate the devastating effects that this pandemic is having on the health system, on the economic situation and on people's lives and daily lives.

A context of great uncertainty that has highlighted the creative, innovative and collaborative capacity of our societies and which we have decided to analyse in depth so that what we are experiencing can serve as a learning experience for the near future. What lessons has COVID-19 taught those of us who are dedicated to the world of design?

3D printing, immediacy to respond to crisis contexts

There are many solutions that have seen the light of day in recent weeks that have been developed thanks to 3D printing. An alternative that has established itself as an option for the design and mass production of products with great immediacy and at a very low economic cost. An ideal alternative to respond to a situation of crisis and collapse characterised by the need for quick and effective solutions.

Examples are the protective screens designed for sanitary equipment or the production of valves for the design of respirators. Alternatives that aim to reach where the usual resources are not sufficient and offer viable, scalable, economical and fast solutions at production level.

protective screens covid-19

Another example is the field ventilator designed by El Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB), Leitat, the Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa and the Parc Taulí hospital in Sabadell, in collaboration with several companies, which have developed the first mechanical field ventilator manufactured through industrialisable 3D printing. In other words, with scalable production capacity.

covid-19 and field ventilator designed by leitat, cst

Re-use of products to meet new needs

If the human capacity for innovation is limitless, in a crisis situation, solutions can be surprisingly creative, and they don't have to start from scratch, sometimes it is enough to reinvent the use of a product.

An example of this is the work carried out by SEAT, which, starting from the windscreen wiper motor, has used gears printed in the same factory, gearbox shafts and has designed a new model of emergency respirator that is starting to be used in hospitals.

SEAT emergency ventilator

The value of DIY

In crisis situations where resources are scarce, it is important to join forces to achieve solutions almost immediately. This is where "Do It Yourself " makes sense. There are many health workers and people at risk who need equipment for their daily lives, and anything that can be done from an individual point of view is a contribution to alleviating the crisis situation.

In recent days there have been numerous tutorials on how to make masks that protect against COVID-19, on the internet you can download instructions on how to print protective masks with your own 3D printer, and countless other alternatives.

This increases the volume of solutions at a time of great need.

DIY Face Masks

More sustainable designs than ever before

As we mentioned in our last post on designing for the circular economy, sustainable design meets 3 principles: the first is that it should be made from recyclable products, have outstanding durability and be easy to repair or reuse. One of the effects of this crisis is that it has put us in a situation of scarce resources that has forced us to resort to this type of design.

This is what has happened with the well-known Decathlon diving masks, initially designed for snorkelling, which have been reused for the production of high-flow oxygen masks.

Unlimited collaboration

If the COVID crisis has taught us anything, it is the collaborative capacity of society. Moreover, many of the solutions that have emerged in recent days would not have come to light without the selfless teamwork of the different agents involved. Many online platforms have emerged to bring together the different actors in the design process.

One example of this is the Coronavirus Makers project with the intention of developing open source plans and instructions so that anyone with a 3D printer can get to work. As they report, there are currently more than 10,000 makers coordinated through Telegram to create masks, respirators and cabinets in record time.

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