Designs for Living with COVID-19, from the Sublime to the Ridiculous

  • Micrashell suit by Production Club

    We get it — the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in our lives, some irrevocably. Is the handshake gone for good? Is social distancing here to stay? And what about those darn masks?

    All of that may be the least of it, if the creative, sometimes surreal, solutions to transmission of the virus featured in this slide show enter the mainstream. Many of these designs, incidentally, make ample use of plastics. Plastic is fantastic, as we like to say, but it’s downright fantastical in some of these flights of COVID-19-inspired fancy.

    Image courtesy Production Club

  • Plex'Eat design by Christophe Gernigon

    “When I saw proposals to place plexiglass dividers on restaurant tables [to prevent transmission of COVID-19], it gave me the impression of being in a prison visiting room,” said French interior design entrepreneur Christophe Gernigon. So, he came up with a more elegant alternative — the Plex’Eat protective bubble.

    The plexiglass cupola allows diners freedom of movement along with unobstructed vision, and it is reportedly easy to disassemble and disinfect. The Plex’Eat is currently being marketed by France’s Sitour, which is specialized in point-of-sale marketing products. There has been widespread interest across the globe, according to a press release issued by the Christophe Gernigon Studio.

    “Even if we don’t want to remain indefinitely under a bell jar, the Plex’Eat protective bubble I invented will let restaurants open rapidly in total security,” said Gernigon.

    Image courtesy Christophe Gernigon Studio

  • Micrashell suit by Production Club

    I could have sworn I saw the guy pictured here at a Flaming Lips concert a few years back, but apparently that is impossible, since the so-called Micrashell suit was invented just a couple of months ago. Production Club, an LA-based studio that designs immersive experiences for the music, tech, and gaming industries, came up with the concept of all-encompassing PPE for those itching to go to concerts, raves, and other live events — trade shows anyone? — without running the risk of contracting the virus.

    Most of the suit is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fabric and lightweight film composite, according to the company's website. Features include an air-filtration system, privacy-driven communication that lets you determine who or what can be heard, and internal speakers that can be programmed for direct streaming of the DJ or band or as an “emulation” of the room’s sound. Canisters allow users to vape and drink safely without disrobing, and the “top-only” suit design allows the user “to wear normal clothes, use the toilet and engage in intercourse without being exposed to respiratory risks.” Pandemic, shmandemik — sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll (or whatever musical genre floats your boat) is alive and well.

    It’s not clear when this suit will be commercially available, and if that ever happens, the cost may be prohibitive for most individuals. The likely business model, according to Production Club, is for venues and promoters to own the suits and rent them to event goers on a per-show basis, after they have been properly sterilized, of course.

    Image courtesy Production Club

  • Juliya Kros face mask design

    As Stephan Rabimov reminds us in an April 27, 2020, article in Forbes, many of today’s fashion staples were once rooted in utility. “Jeans were designed as a solution to miners’ needs for durable workwear. Pants were adopted by women when they entered the workforce in WWI. And the invention of casual sportswear coincided with the new, fast-paced lifestyles of Americans in the 1970s,” he writes in “20 Fashion Brands Getting Most Creative with Coronavirus Face Masks.” The face mask, too, will evolve into a fashion statement of some kind.

    He highlights several delightful designs in his article, but I was especially smitten by goth garb from Ukrainian brand Juliya Kros. Properly accessorized, the face mask is sure to be a hit at your next Game of Thrones-themed soirée.

    Image courtesy Juliya Kros

  • Danielle Baskin/Maskalike face masks

    San Francisco-based artist and “entrepreneurial prankster” Danielle Baskin had the absolutely brilliant idea of printing users’ faces on surgical masks. They look creepy or fascinating, depending on your sensibility, but they also have a purpose: In theory, the masks will unlock phones that use facial recognition software.

    The process is simple: You upload a picture of your face to the website, and computational mapping is applied to convert the facial features and print them distortion-free onto the surface of the cotton face mask.

    The masks are still in development but will launch soon through the company Maskalike. You can put your name on a wait list here if you feel so inclined.

    Image courtesy Danielle Baskin/Maskalike

  • Be a Bat Man wearable

    Back in February, PlasticsToday featured the Be a Bat Man wearable device designed by Beijing-based architectural firm Penda. It emits ultraviolet radiation to sterilize the surrounding environment while the wearer is shielded by the egg-like device. It folds up and can be worn like a backpack when it’s not needed. You can find out more about this design concept by reading, “Batman-Inspired Shield Would Protect Wearers from Coronavirus.”

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