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Dubai Design District and Serviceplan Middle East launch Distant Neighbours initiative

This calls for a big round of applause! To connect the world and bring communities together during the global health crisis, a unique social design project called Distant Neighbours has been launched on Instagram, backed by Dubai Design District (d3) in collaboration with its business partner, Serviceplan Middle East.

It reflects urban society in an age of social distancing and aims to address the loneliness and isolation experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic by inviting everyone to provide a snapshot of their homes which becomes part of an ever-evolving virtual residential tower.

Distant Neighbours uses the Instagram grid to create the impression of a skyscraper façade, with each window offering a glimpse into the individuality of every abode. Silhouetted illustrations are drawn by Argentina-based, Dubai-educated artist Michelle Peric, who uses them as cover pictures, bringing to life the concept of living under the same roof.

Instagram followers of @Distant.Neighbours are invited to share pictures showing distinctive features of their home and provide insight about themselves and their community. Each submission receives a personalised illustrated cover created in real-time. Once featured, the person is tagged with their own apartment number and they become part of this virtual residence. There has been great camaraderie between the neighbours since the project went live.

Khadija Al Bastaki, executive director of d3, said: “We continue to witness exceptional circumstances every day and taking a step back to reflect, appreciate one another and share experiences is important as we gradually return to a new normal. Distant Neighbours is an exciting, Dubai-based creative platform that brings people together to connect, collaborate and co-create at a time when socially responsible design has never been so important. With social distancing measures still in place around the world, our community will embrace the opportunity to express itself and join this ever-evolving virtual residential tower to showcase local talent.

Distant Neighbours is a special project for illustrator Michelle Peric, since quarantine has affected every person in the world, and being able to capture intimate, personal moments and moods is something she aspires to capture. These stories will be relevant throughout our times, as the experiences illustrated resonates within each of us that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has shaped our way of living under quarantine.
Through this project, Serviceplan Middle East and d3 hope to empathise, reconnect, and reflect with a sense of wonder and sympathy during such a strange time for humanity.

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