Design Guide for Resilient Businesses

August 19, 2021

Rethinking commercial design after the pandemic

At the end of the first COVID-19 pandemic wave in Montréal, the Bureau du Design of Montréal’s Service du développement économique launched COVIDesign, an applied and multidisciplinary commercial design research project. 

In the wake of its emergency business assistance measures, which included subsidizing the production of an anti-COVID adaptation guide for small businesses, the Bureau asked Architecture sans Frontières Québec to coordinate and produce a design guide based on its experience with health adaptation measures for some 160 businesses at the height of the pandemic.

Bringing together over 20 hand-picked experts on this issue, including researchers and professionals in design and architecture; experts in marketing, business, and sociology; and consultants in ergonomics and universal access, the group examined the development and design of retail stores, restaurants, and food services from the perspective of resilience and mitigating the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the pandemic.

To fuel the discussion, the group studied reference documents and surveyed inspiring international initiatives. Montréal business owners were consulted and asked for input, while leaders from various commercial sectors were invited to share their thoughts on pandemic-related issues.

This entire process resulted in the development of a design guide for resilient commerce, Rethinking Commercial Design After the Pandemic, to be launched in the fall of 2021, along with webinars for business development organizations and design professionals. 

In addition to being the first reference document on this issue for Montréal, UNESCO City of Design, it will contribute to implementing the Montréal Agenda 2030 for Quality and Exemplarity in Design and Architecture – commercial design based on practices and processes that combine sustainability, creativity, and innovation and that take advantage of design and architecture to enhance the quality and appeal of our neighbourhoods and living environments.

Montréal aims to become the city that each of our citizens truly wants. A more sustainable city, where their health and wellness are valued.

Valérie Plante, mayor of Montréal, Montréal Agenda 2030, December 2019

Who is the guide for?

The guide is primarily for business owners who wish to implement enduring, sustainable, and high-quality methods for developing or redeveloping their businesses that go beyond any temporary adaptations to the pandemic. It is also aimed at professionals in design and architecture and at business and professional associations who serve in a front-line advisory capacity.

What is it for?

The guide will help identify functional, aesthetic, and digital improvements that help make a business more appealing and engaging for both customers and staff, either in a post-pandemic setting or in the face of other similar waves or threats. It contains useful references for obtaining assistance, support, or professional advice.

Whenever a business’s environment evolves or needs change, the business owner must take time to consider the way forward, and this is a strategic moment to engage in a process of properly planning and designing any work that needs to be done. The guide is a useful reference for this process. It offers solutions for every step a business customer takes, whether purchases are made in store or online. A checklist allows users to review key recommendations so that nothing is overlooked.

Keep an eye out for the launch

The Bureau du design would like to thank all the partners who worked on this project, in particular the staff at Architecture sans Frontières Québec for their overall coordination and production of the project.

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