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Design Hacks Will Dominate the Coronavirus Recovery Landscape

Caution tape. Painted circles. Plastic dividers. The most impactful coronavirus designs are coming from mostly nonprofessionals adapting urban space on the fly.

TOPSHOT - An aerial view shows people gathered inside painted circles on the grass encouraging social distancing at Dolores Park in San Francisco. 
Photographer: JOSH EDELSON/AFP

At Old Takoma Ace Hardware in Takoma Park, Md., a garish jumble of plastic barriers, signs, and floor markings faces customers a few steps inside the front door. Orange cones mark off the queueing area for the cash registers. A yellow “Wet Floor” tent sign is partly covered by a drawing of an arrow pointing left, with the instruction ENTER. On the tile floor, arrows and brackets (indicating where to stand) are outlined in fluorescent duct tape. “ATTENTION CUSTOMERS,” reads a notice stuck to one of the cones. “FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW.” 

The notice also has an emoji-face with a mask. “I’ve learned that people don’t read,” says Rose McKinnon, the store’s assistant manager. “Pictures and bright colors are better.”