The Big Idea: Object Permanence
It’s odd to consider that during the most isolating year in modern history we’ve become more familiar with each other’s personal spaces than ever. With everyone broadcasting from home for a year’s worth of Zoom calls, we were suddenly invited into the living areas of not just acquaintances and coworkers but our doctors, lawyers, architects and personal trainers. It’s now possible to tell the late-night talk shows apart just by the hosts’ basement décor.
At the same time, the figurative walls within those spaces have come down, as so many homes suddenly had to be so many places at once: office, school, restaurant and bar, day care, gym. Not to mention all the actual walls coming down. (As we write this, a sustained renovation boom is still going strong, causing lumber prices to skyrocket and giving contractors the type of billable hours that would make a white-shoe law firm weep with joy.) The result has been a softening of rigid boundaries, a willingness to rethink basic assumptions about how we use designed space.
And that has introduced a certain fluidity to how we interact with the products that inhabit those spaces. Consider fitness or hobbyist equipment: Once hidden away behind closed doors or relegated to the garage, it’s now as common a sight in the background of video calls as a bookshelf or sofa.
And why shouldn’t a sleek, beautifully made rowing machine, like our pick of the superb Hydrow ($2,245), or an architecturally curved gaming monitor take pride of place in a living room? Shouldn’t it simply depend on what, for you, constitutes living? Luxury brands have long understood that anything can be a design object. As it turns out, the strictures about what’s meant to go where, seen versus stored, this-room-or-that-room, have been largely self-imposed.
The last year has introduced a looser, more creative “make it work” attitude toward the stuff we use, and how we use it, and where. Along with the new normal of allowing frequent virtual peeks into our homes, that means our favorite kit must be subject to a rigorous ouroboros of form following function following form. Everything is on display now. Make sure it’s up to snuff.