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Why this bizarre picnic blanket might be summer’s must-have accessory

A new “social distancing picnic blanket” because some people just can’t figure it out on their own.

Why this bizarre picnic blanket might be summer’s must-have accessory
[Photo: courtesy Paul Cocksedge Studio]

If the past week’s warm weather is any indication, not even a pandemic will keep people from heading to the nearest public park for some fresh air. That’s theoretically fine, but images from New York, California, and Florida make it clear that people aren’t always keeping their distance when they go outside. Because it can be hard to eyeball exactly how far six feet is, one designer rethought an essential to make it explicitly clear. Time to add “social distancing picnic blanket” to your list of summer must-haves.

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Paul Cocksedge, cofounder of Cocksedge Studio, has designed what he calls “Here Comes the Sun,” a picnic blanket most notable for the massive hole in its center. It’s essentially a large fabric ring with four equidistant circles around its perimeter, all two meters (or slightly more than six feet) apart.

No need to wait, you can actually make your own social distancing blanket with a free template provided by the studio. You’ll need a sewing machine, scissors, and measuring tape, and about nine square meters of fabric—the studio recommends a non-fraying material like felt.

While some municipalities like Washington D.C. have opted to close parks completely, experts believe picking up a virus outside is relatively low as long as people don’t cluster together for long periods of time. In fact, some argue that the benefits of outdoor space far outweigh the risk of exposure. (But again, crowds = bad. Just take these Florida spring breakers back in March as an example of what not to do, for instance.)

But even though the outdoors poses less risk, it’s not a license to disregard social distancing rules. “It’s a moment to potentially reconfigure our lives to fit a rhythm that suits us better—an opportunity for change,” said Cocksedge in a statement. “Ultimately, people will want to get back to some sort of normality but that shouldn’t be at the expense of anyone’s health.”

It’s likely that spring and summer will lure people outside even though COVID-19 continues to spread. But with designs like this one,  there’s a new way of enjoying public space—it involves being considerate of those around you.

[Image: courtesy Paul Cocksedge Studio]
[Photo: courtesy Paul Cocksedge Studio]
[Image: courtesy Paul Cocksedge Studio]

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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