Every day there are reports dropping into my inbox about the future of work, how the office will never be the same again, why the era of the restaurant is over, why nightclubs are finished and how, for years to come, the fashion industry will stumble and stagger like a runway model with badly fitting shoes. Perhaps it’s all true. Perhaps all the luxury fashion houses will be forced to run their businesses with the same level of concern and virtue as an NGO (no shows, no parties, no frivolity, please) and offices will become like isolation wards. And maybe companies will never get their staff to leave the comfort blanket of their apartments again. But. Well, there are actually quite a few buts.
Lots of these reports are generated by futurologists and prediction agencies that have patchy track records at best or from the PR machines of companies that think they spy an opportunity. And the other problem is that if all of these predictions really do come true, then we’re sunk.
In the UK after weeks of lockdown, you see the circle of inspiration getting smaller and smaller. We had the Tiger King weeks and now the only thing that people seem to be watching is The Last Dance documentary series about Michael Jordan. Both great. But. I miss coming in to the office and colleagues telling me about the obscure gallery they went to the night before, the theatre production that moved them, the student exhibition that impressed, the talk they attended at the Royal Academy.
Ah, but you say, you can now do all this and more virtually – attend art fairs, see the world’s best museums and all without tall people getting in your way. Well, I have been into these viewing rooms and felt indifferent and, to date, nobody has ever raved to me about the amazing picture, photograph, or person that they discovered in one of these online arenas. They work fine as sales rooms (Ebay for rich people) but any curator who thinks this is as good as being there for real is kidding themself.
At the weekends I catch up with two friends who run a successful agency for actors and each week hear about shows cancelled and delayed (often for years), film projects stalled, TV series red-lit and you realise how much creativity, potent comment and new-ness is being lost every day. Not to mention the careers.
The potential inspiration drought was hammered home this week when our editor in chief sent me several dispatches from his travels in Switzerland, a nation out of lockdown, where he saw more new ideas and spoke face-to-face with more inspiring people each day than many of us have come across in weeks. I am sure he will tell you all about it tomorrow.
And this is why we need restaurants where you strike up a conversation with your neighbour, galleries where you get to stare at work that shakes you and travel. Travel is amazing. The chance to head out and be inspired, to meet people who can alter your world view and to realise that it’s hard to really change anything other than your outfit from your bedroom.
Late-night visitors Our neighbours press our doorbell. It’s late but the sky is still a polished steel blue. If we look towards the moon, in three minutes’ time, they tell us, we might see the International Space Station pass by with its newly bolstered crew that now numbers five: Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. And here it comes: a speeding dot made pearl white by the light of the moon. So small with the naked eye, yet captivating. We stand watching until it vanishes. Now a space odyssey really does give you a new perspective.