Where We Are Investing Now: Architecture, Workspaces, and Surroundings
The pandemic has changed our perception of our communities, our homes, and living spaces in general. We’ve been forced to take shelter in spaces that we didn’t design for full-time occupancy, resulting in a reconsideration of the function and design of our homes. We’ve reached an understanding that our natural and built environments have a direct impact on wellbeing and shape our behavior. This is inspiring a move towards architecture and interior design that is not just aesthetic, but elicits emotions and provides health benefits. For example:
- Biophilic design: “an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world”
- Neo-deco design: organic design recalling the sweeping curves of nature, e.g., tinted color fluted vases, scalloped furniture
- Neotenic design: prolongation and retention of childlike features eliciting positive emotional responses
- Interactions design: built environments that elicit social connection, e.g., conversational chairs
- Living art, e.g., bioluminescence and adaptive art that influences mood
For the remainder of the year, we’ll seek out companies incorporating these elements into building spaces that improve both emotional and physical health.
Apart from the need to shift the focus in our living spaces toward wellbeing, the pandemic has caused us to reflect upon our workspaces and work processes. We now feel remote work is here to stay. CEOs and employees recognize that remote work can be both more productive and pleasant than full-time office work. We are intrigued by data that indicates a future hybrid model in which 75% of the workweek will be remote. That shift creates many new requirements for the physical in-home workspace, such as ambient sound reduction technology, high-quality office infrastructure designed for small spaces and non-professional oversight, as well as new methods for technical problem minimization.
We must remain mindful, though, that remote work comes with a host of emotional issues: challenges of collaboration and communication from afar, team culture development and maintenance, feelings of individual isolation, and inability to unplug. Solutions will be needed to replicate the unstructured creativity of physical groups in virtual spaces. In addition, we see the need for tools to distinguish between work and leisure in the home. We can also imagine that tools facilitating real-world rituals as software will become increasingly important. Imagine creating a virtual commute to develop a routine and unplug from work at day’s end, or tools that provide wellbeing and productivity insights during the workday, like reminders for breaks, reflection, to-do lists, mindfulness, mental health trackers, and prompts to engage with coworkers. We could also see a place for environmental changes of lighting, scent, and music to delineate a clear distinction of work and leisure time in the same physical space.
For the remainder of the year, we’ll seek out innovative companies incorporating these elements into improving the remote work experience.
Covid has shown vulnerabilities of cities that are becoming denser — there is now a big push towards smart city tech to keep citizens healthier and happier, specifically in these areas:
- Transportation: counter-urban congestion and optimize flow of people and goods
- Connectivity: wireless network infrastructure and data analysis
- Sustainability: pollution and resource management
- Government and society: promotion of health and happiness of inhabitants
For the remainder of the year, we will focus on finding companies that create products facilitating access to green spaces and food production, as well as social interaction points and infrastructure with a focus on pedestrians.
We see huge potential for investment in this rapidly growing market. What we require from our homes, workspaces, and entire cities has evolved rapidly due to Covid. Whatever the future holds for the space we live and work in, it won’t look like the recent past.
We’ll capture this exploding opportunity by focusing on companies that embrace this change by incorporating health and happiness into every aspect of our day-to-day spaces.
If you know any great entrepreneurs focused on architecture, remote work, or smart city infrastructure, we would love to hear about them.
By Managing Partner Mike Edelhart