Voices Pushpesh Pant sheila kumar ravi shankar damyanti biswas gautam chintamani Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Buffet MAGAZINE People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI november 29 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 The Home Hub The pandemic has brought the world into our homes which are now being converted into a unique economic, professional, emotional and familial space with different consequences. Is this forever? By Smitha Verma S ometime in April, during the first phase of lockdown, fitness-obsessed Sandeep Mall asked his friend, a gym owner, to lend him some exercise equipment. Stuck at home with no gyms or trainers to go to, Mall thought of working out at home. Soon other family members joined him. By June, he had converted a large storage room in his two-storied house in Faridabad, Haryana, into a home gym. It was neatly stocked with cardio, strength and flexibility tools. Over a period of six months, he painstakingly put together a collection that included a rowing machine, spinning machine, dumbbells and plates, barbells, kettlebells, squat rack, pullup bar, and more. Though he spent `3.75 lakh on the entire shebang, in his words, he made an investment that can’t be “quantified”. “My parents are doing strength training to which they had no access before. When I coach them we also get to spend an hour together,” says the 55-year-old entrepreneur. fitness category with home gym sets, yoga mats and bands seeing maximum uptake. As the era of sweatpants and work from home (WFH) stretches on, homes have transformed into a multifaceted hub. A rooftop in Begumpur neighbourhood in Hyderabad Reclaiming Spaces While Mall was busy inside his home, Hyderabad-based photographer Madhu Gopal Rao felt the pandemic had “trapped” him inside his house. As the days of the lockdown turned into weeks, Rao ventured out to his terrace, perhaps for the first time in his life. What he saw from there led to a large-scale photographic exhibition for the award-winning photographer. He was taken aback by the sight of all the rooftops of his neighbourhood occupied by people engaged in various activities, from children playing to couples taking leisurely stroll. “These rooftops had become an extension of our homes. Our terrace offers us the familiarity of our homes as against the chaos of outside world,” says Rao, whose project ‘Rooftop’ is being exhibited at the Indian Photo Festival, an ongoing photography event showcasing works from around the world. Seven months and 5,000 photographs later, the photographer believes rooftops are being reclaimed like never before. He noticed that people claimed their terraces every evening with clockwork religiosity “The space is a . stress buster for them,” Rao says. Homes provide a sense of comfort, security ir at the amily all’s f ome gym ep M h Sande developed wly ne and ownership. Not just for Mall or Rao but for everyone. In the pre-Covid world, home was a place of leisure where spending quality time with loved ones wasn’t a forced choice. However, this has changed now. A countrywide survey in November by Bengaluru-based home solutions start-up Wakefit ‘Dream Home’ showed that 38 percent people felt the need to redecorate their homes at least once a year, an indication of how focus on homes are expanding in the coronavirus-invaded world. Not surprising that post the first lockdown, sporting goods retailer Decathlon noted a 220 percent growth of fitness products. Amazon India recorded a 2.2X increase in the Covid-19 cases are soaring, and a third wave is being talked about. “ we isolate at As home, we become increasingly aware of how our interior spaces affect our moods, ability to work, and physical comfort. Covid-19 will definitely have a lasting impact on future design trends, which will continue beyond this crisis, permanently changing what we value, how and where we shop, live and work,” predicts Kashyap Vadapalli, chief marketing officer and business head, Pepperfry a home products , marketplace. Change is sweeping home settings, be it small apartments or palatial bungalows. Parul Mittal, director, Greenlam Industries, terms this “a disruptive moment” in the design space. “The lockdown phase paved the way for space allocation to gyms, office areas, online classes set-ups, kitchen gardens and hobby corners,” she says. Mittal has a point. In the last six months, Bengaluru-based food consultant Monika Manchanda has made several additions to her house. The sofa to relax has given way to work desks, ergonomic chairs and a bookshelf. “ we started As spending more hours indoors, creating personal spaces in an existing home, became extremely important,” says the popular food blogger. She and her 12-year-old son—who attends online classes—share their new workspace. Today everyone is around , every hour of the day Unques. tionably the worth attached to , personal space has gone up. Designer and co-founder of Casa Pardox, an upmarket interiors outlet in Delhi, Raseel Gujral puts the trend in perspective. “People have realised the value of being at home more than ever before. Unfortunately it took a , pandemic to recognise it,” says Gujral. DIY Headquarters Post the lockdown in March, the ‘WFH’ and ‘online classes’ phrase started catching up. Suddenly the living room has , become more action-oriented. “Small studio apartments and large houses alike have had to adapt to incorporate new functions. The way we look at these spaces is changing,” says Subodh Mehta, senior vicepresident, home furniture business, Godrej Interio. In March, the company released ‘Work From Home’ guide, that revealed the challenges and solutions for the modern day home-office setups. Tinu Cherian, a Bengalurubased communications professional, realised in the beginning of the lockdown that some amount of shopping was required if home was going to be an office, school as well as a recreation centre for the next few months. Soon a height-adjustable office table, few ergonomic chairs and plants were brought. “I also purchased a foot massager for comfort during prolonged work cycles,” he says. The market is booming with products for the WFH and ‘school from home’ category . “The sales for this range have jumped 15X (1,500 percent) compared to last year,” says Mehta. Godrej Interio’s new range includes couches and beds with platforms that would enable people to place their Meet Me on Zoom Before the virus hit, time spent with Instagram was projected to grow only at 1.5 percent in 2020. Now, Instagram has seen the strongest growth among all social networks, according to eMarketer—a 14 percent growth—amounting to three minutes of additional time spent by each user each day Even if one isn’t stepping out . that hasn’t stopped people from partying or getting ‘Zoom-ready’. Birthday parties, festival dinners, pre-wedding parties have moved on to Zoom. Post-Diwali, Instagram and Facebook were filled with pictures of family reunions over Zoom—wining and dining together across time zones. “People have settled into the rhythm of a new life. We are all on a survival mode.” —Seema Hingorrany, clinical psychologist, Mumbai “The value of being at home has been realised by people more than ever before. Unfortunately it , took us a pandemic to recognise so.” —Raseel Gujral, founder Casa , Paradox, Delhi Turn to page 2
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