‘Being together by staying apart’: what would have been a paradoxical statement in simpler times has become the maxim of the Covid-19 era. Though many parts of the world are now past the peak of the outbreak, social distancing remains a fact of life. And, as Piero Lissoni sees it, a gesture of solidarity in these difficult times.

The Italian architect and designer is among more than 1,000 international creative talents who participated in the #WallpaperPosterCampaign, answering our call for graphic innovation to reflect on the pandemic and spread messages of hope. His studio, Lissoni and Partners, posted three sets of print-at-home posters on Instagram along the theme of ‘Being together by staying apart’. The first set consists of short, declarative statements: ‘Love’, ‘I’m Here’, written on a template for a paper aeroplane, offering a whimsical way to stay in touch with one’s neighbours. The second features a dartboard emblazoned with a red heart, accompanied by instructions to ‘play the game and have fun’. The final design is an elegant representation of social distancing, which we selected for the limited-edition subscribers cover of our Summer 2020 issue.

Monochrome save for judicious touches of bright red, Lissoni’s posters attention-grabbing with the graphic rigour you’d expect, and effective both in A4, or larger formats. 

Reached via email in late May, Lissoni explains that he decided to take part in our campaign with Graphx, his studio’s graphics department, ‘because we liked the idea of working creatively on what’s happening, in order to transform feelings and moods into messages that seek to be positive and include a touch of irony.’

Though quarantined in Tuscany for many weeks, Lissoni has been keeping busy. Because of the international nature of his practice, which has offices in Milan and New York, as well as ongoing projects in China, the US, Brazil and Europe, they are used to being together (and productive) while staying apart. ‘Clearly, we’ve had to adapt to a more “virtual” way of working, but only in terms of means and not as regards the form,’ Lissoni explains. On the personal front, he admits to yearning for normality. ‘I miss the most ordinary things that I didn’t think were so important before, such as popping out to the bar for a coffee or to the market to buy some flowers.’

Like many of us, Lissoni has been using his time at home as an opportunity to reflect: ‘I am wondering about the same things that I imagine others are too,’ he says. ‘When all this is over, will we be able to behave reasonably and rationally, or will we return to behaving unreasonably and irrationally?’ §