Miasma Mirror

Category:

Table Top Divider

Designer:

Donut Shop

The outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 has highlighted the need to reconsider our lived environments and how they are designed for our well-being. Thousands still die from the virus, however we are encouraged to continue life as normal, pitting human health against the health of the economy. Plastic dividers are one of the more common solutions implemented today. While effective in specific settings, their application seems to provide the guise of safety rather than to consider a holistic approach to controlling the spread of disease.

From antiquity to the late 19th century, Miasma theory was the preeminent understanding of how disease was spread.The Miasmatic position was that disease was the result of environmental conditions such as polluted water, foul air, and poor hygiene. Individuals could contract disease through exposure to these environments rather than exposure to an infected individual. The iconic beak shaped mask of plague-era doctors was a reflection of the Miasmatic theory. It was designed to be filled with flowers, spices, and other pungent items to obstruct the smells of death and disease. Miasma theory was disproved and replaced by germ theory in the 1880’s.

Ironically, the inaccurate Miasma theory was a catalyst to the reimagining of cities. In the mid 19th century European urban planners and government officials began to implement far reaching civil engineering programs such as Haussmann's renovation of Paris. These sweeping programs replaced dim medieval structures and labyrinthine alleys with broad avenues and an abundance of public green spaces. While the justifications for these changes were misinformed they created an innovative model for healthier urban environments.

Subsequent pandemics have had similar results, prompting a renewed inspection of the way people live. The Spanish flu of the early 20th century had a direct effect on the rise of modernism and the substitution of antiquated tough-to-clean surfaces and cluttered interiors with smooth planes and stripped down design elements.

With the desperate need for so many changes in modern life regarding public health, social justice, and environmental sustainability we must wonder if the approaches we’ve seen develop in response to the pandemic go far enough. Do our band-aid solutions in response to the pandemic, with the goal of returning to normal, represent a missed opportunity?

Material:

Resin, Dried Flowers, Anodized Aluminum

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