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How are our alumni around the world coping with the health crisis? Testimonial #2

How are our alumni around the world coping with the health crisis? Testimonial #2

Testimonial from Nataly Restrepo, 2015 alumni and strategy designer specialized in Food design in Mexico.

How do people feel about the health crisis in Mexico? 

The Mexican government announced phase 2 of the epidemic a few days ago. That means that all non-essential activities (shops, restaurants, etc.) have been closed. A few days before this measure was implemented, much of the population was concerned as the Mexican president was continuing to allow people to go out, while other neighboring countries were taking stricter measures. There was a political crisis: the Mexicans ignored the president’s measures and went into self-imposed quarantine. 

How would you compare the situation in Mexico and the situation in France?

In Mexico, most people live hand to mouth, in other words they have to go out and work to feed their families. Shutting down the economy overnight can therefore have serious consequences for a large proportion of the population, particularly as there is not as much government aid as in France. While it seems obvious that health should come before the economy, in reality it’s not so easy for people who live in precarious conditions. The example of what’s happening currently in Europe can help the Mexicans to understand the gravity of the situation, and make the government realize that they must be more involved in helping these destitute families who cannot survive more than 2 or 3 days without working. In that respect, crises highlight social inequalities.

How will this crisis change our lives? 

From a social point of view, people will try out self-isolating in their daily lives, they’ll start going out for special occasions only. The gastronomy and entertainment sectors will be hit hard. In terms of food (which is my specialty), takeaway fast food and casual food will experience a boom, and we’ll see more and more virtual restaurants (which already exist with “dark kitchens”).

More generally, technological resources will be used by an increasingly large number of people, the home office is set to develop massively, geographical boundaries will no longer be an obstacle for recruiting, and the quality of administrative services will be improved thanks to technology, etc.

What role can design play in a post-Covid 19 world?

Design is a discipline which offers solutions. Designers therefore have the opportunity to get to grips with this crisis from a creative perspective, with the aim of finding solutions, and not only analyzing the problems. I don’t think that this crisis is transitory. It will change our way of living and working and design must help us to reinvent these practices. As I said before, the industries of gastronomy, tourism, entertainment, work and workspaces must reinvent themselves: from now on, design has an essential role to play in these changes.

Design is also a tool which enables us to imagine the future. We had detected the signs of a pandemic, but we weren’t prepared for it. Design and strategic foresight need to be incorporated more quickly into companies, in the government, in social policies, etc. in order to think up prospective scenarios and develop strategies. 

A message or a conclusion? 

This crisis reminds us how important design is in changing people’s habits. It’s an opportunity to take a new direction towards more positive future scenarios.