Una Barac is the Founder and Executive Director of Atellior, interior design studio. Una leads the creative design process within Atellior and is currently working on a large number of hospitality schemes across the UK and Europe, as well as a number of high-end residential projects across London.
As the weeks indoors stretch on, the Sleep & Eat team are checking in with our community to discover how others in the hospitality world are dealing with lockdown.
Today, we’re exploring the ‘new normal’ of Una Barac, Executive Director at Atellior.
Thanks for letting us check in with you. It’s important to us to stay connected with our community, even if at a social distance.
Where are you self-isolating right now?
At home in North London, with my partner and our baby girl.
What’s the view from your new ‘work desk’?
Our lovely garden. We are super lucky to have outside space and private sunny spot in the middle of London.
What are you most enjoying having the time to do, that you can’t normally fit in?
Spending all day, every day with my daughter. That is a huge blessing in the midst of a very worrying and sad set of circumstances.
Have you developed a new daily routine?
Yes, I finally have time to exercise every day, as I am not commuting to the office and meetings. I do a short set of resistance exercises first thing in the morning during the week. We go for a walk over the weekend, keeping 2m distance, which can be challenging in densely populated residential zones of inner London. In order to avoid people, we tend to walk to the City. Highrise architecture and empty streets are hauntingly beautiful and strangely calm and still.
What’s your favourite part of the day in your ‘new normal’?
Cooking dinner whilst chatting to my partner. In the past we would both come home from work late and cooking was a chore. With lack of commuting we have the time to spend quality time together and cook healthy food. We’ve also been discovering lots of local delivery services for fresh produce. Nice thing about receiving a box of groceries is that we end up with some ingredients we wouldn’t normally purchase; hence we are learning new recipes.
What do you think will be the biggest change in how you do your job post COVID-19?
COVID-19 has shown us all how easy and doable remote meetings and video conferencing is. We’ll all be far more flexible in our approach to working remotely. Offices will still exist, but it will not necessarily be 9-5, 5 days a week. 9-5, five days a week. We will also cut down number of meetings and travel, which should all hopefully have a positive impact on carbon footprint reduction. I hope this pandemic is making people (and governments) realise that we need to be kinder to our planet, nature and animals.
It’s a difficult time for the hospitality industry. What do you think will be the hospitality sectors biggest challenge post COVID?
It will take some time to build back consumer confidence and get people to return to hotels, bars and restaurants in numbers that were seen prior to the pandemic. As architects we bear big responsibility in designing safer destinations that will allow for necessary distancing during pandemics, which are sadly becoming a regular occurrence. Social distancing is not only going to be present at Front of House, for the guests and visitors. We will need to create safer working environment for the staff too. This will see significant changes to Back of House facilities too, on top of more stringent housekeeping.
What should those in the hospitality industry be doing now to help them prepare for the coming months?
As I’m closely following industry press releases and publications, I see a lot of talk on increased housekeeping measures, which are key in combating the virus. But new approach will have to be multifaceted. Bars, restaurants, even airplanes will have to accept much lower densities, which will bear impact on their turnover and profitability. Whole approach to food displays will need a “rethink”. Use of technology from placing an order to contactless payment will come into its own. And as already mentioned we will have to create safer working environment for the staff, firstly through housekeeping, but also through different spatial planning, which may become more space-demanding.
How is Atellior planning to ‘hit the ground running’ again in the coming months? Do you have any new project ideas in the pipeline?
We are lucky that number of our projects haven’t stopped, so we continue to work remotely without an abrupt break. Lack of business development means we will all have to work hard after the lock-down to win new work for the second half of 2020. We have been pitching via video link to some clients and even winning projects, which has been fantastic.
To see our recent work and some new designs, sketches, mood boards and ideas visit our Instagram @atellior_design
And finally, what are you most looking forward to doing again when the lockdown is lifted?
Seeing friends and family face to face, rather than over FaceTime and spending quality time with them. I also miss seeing my teams, both in London and in Croatia. Whilst we all keep in regular contact via video calls, I look forward to having both London and Zagreb teams together. It will be one heck of a party!
Thanks for checking in with us Una.