you can find inspiration in everything… a new interior project is taking shape…

We are big fans of the Paul Smith quote, ‘you can find inspiration in everything – and if you can’t look again’ and stick to this in the studio with our work. Looking outside for us often is the answer. How does nature do that, why does nature do that etc. And so we thought we would share a couple of photos which are really inspiring us at the moment with our current projects – and how they have translated from the outside to the inside…

So, a project we are currently designing the interior for is directly opposite Preston Park, and over the last few weeks the wildflower paddock has exploded with colour, which has definitely linked in with the client’s colour choices for the interior…

wildflowers Preston Parkwildflowers interior

 

But what is worth noting is the difference in colours – each meadow will be different with different tones, so if we were looking at the one below (at Arundel Castle), maybe we would have taken a stronger blue tone with a fresher green?
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Taking a walk and taking a few photos can be a huge help – just remember to see and not just look…

(images by claire potter)

Monday musings – ethical consumption, or just consumption?

Our daily work and studio research is based in many different areas of design, but ultimately, we try and ensure that our work is interesting and ethical. They are the two mainstays of everything we do. Many other adjectives get put in there for each project, but these are the two that stay and without compromise. But, regardless of how we are working, we are very aware that we are still consumers – we are designing things to be made, used, inhabited, enjoyed. We are creators of stuff.

ethical consumer 1Now, we are pretty proud of the fact that we design and make things and places in the best possible way we can, using responsible materials, recycled materials and ensuring that things can have another life through reuse and disassembly, but it is still stuff.

Which really makes us think.

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In our personal lives, we very much live what we preach. Avid collectors of secondhand books, regular trawlers of antique shops and boot fairs and massive fans of charity shops, my own Twitter feed is rammed most weekends with the photos of secondhand stuff I have found and purchased. I love telling people how little a t-shirt cost from an Oxfam, or that my new (old) laptop bag came from Emmaus. I have pride in being a user of secondhand things.

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But, as I realised the other day during another clearout of stuff – I am still a massive consumer. Sure, a consumer of hopefully ‘ethical’ things, but a consumer none the less. My house and the studio is full of things that perhaps I do not need, so does the fact that we got it secondhand make it ok to own too much stuff?

Where does the over consumer start and the ethical over consumer end?

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This was also something that struck us whilst at the recent Brighton Peace and Environment Centre Carbon Conversation event in Brighton with Cat Fletcher of Freegle. In an ideal world, the good quality, well made goods that are traditionally higher in initial cost would be used, then filter down through services such as Freegle and the charity shops. And this is sometimes the case – I have found the most incredible stuff that would have cost a pretty penny new, in secondhand stores that still had many more years use ahead. If we were able to utilise this kind of quality goods at a price that suited more consumers, then perhaps we would not have to turn to the low cost, low quality high street stalwarts of fashion.

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But, this is still consuming. Unless we are truly only buying what we need, then we are part of that all consuming cycle – whether we are buying new, or buying second hand.

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So is this a problem? Perhaps. But if more people bought secondhand, then not only would charities benefit, but we would literally be keeping things in the loop. We would be ethical consumers.Equally, when you don’t need something any more – donate it so someone else can benefit. This is the basis of the circular economy, and the more we can keep travelling around the cycle before it is ‘reclaimed’ for fibres or materials, the better…

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And so I am making myself a deal. I know that I am an over consumer, despite it being second hand, but I own stuff that I will not use anymore, which is surely worse. Someone could, and should be wearing those clothes and reading those books – and with a bit more space from the things I don’t need, I can refill the shelves with second hand treasures that I will…

(images by claire potter – all bought second hand…)

SPOTTED – Palletables – new furniture from old pallets…

Pallets. Those ubiquitous pieces of temporary street furniture that are often overlooked are actually very interesting things indeed. They are graded and sized to very strict and uniform guidelines for instance. But, even though they are often used multiple times, pallets and packaging actually account for around 25 million cubic metres of wood use per year in Europe alone. This, is not all bad though, as only 3% are reported to end up in landfill. What is great is when pallets are recovered and reused by people like Palletables, who, as you may have guessed, manufacture new furniture from recovered pallets and other bits of reclaimed wood._MG_2494.jpg

Palletables UK is made up of Joe Ensoll and Eleanor Byrd – a couple based in Surrey, with a workshop in Kingston Upon Thames. With backgrounds in photography and graphic design, the pair decided to turn their focus to creating functional pieces of furniture from reclaimed timber – with each piece of wood being allowed to season before being transformed into everything from boot stores to coffee tables._MG_2909.jpgTheir ethos is clear –  ‘We aim to use reclaimed materials wherever possible, including original floor boards and timber beams. We feel strongly that it is important for us to use the abundance of unwanted materials we have all around us, as opposed to using up resources to create more’. Well said we say.

Plus, as well as their range of furniture that is available to buy through their online store, they also undertake bespoke commissions for larger pieces.

And there certainly won’t be a shortage of materials about, so we look forward to seeing what the pair create next…

(images courtesy of Palletables)

our latest Urban Foraging Walk is now live!

We have been pretty busy on the foraging front this year – mostly running foraging walks for other lovely people in the city, but we have had so many people ask us whether we are running any more, we are!

cherry plum foraging

Up now are full details of our Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on 2nd August… Ever wondered what you walk past each day which you could add into to your daily diet? Ever wondered what this whole urban foraging thing is about, where it has come from and what you can actually do with that random looking leaf? Well, during our 2 hour intro walk, we will help guide you through the laws and pitfalls of foraging and help you identify up to 20 things that are abundant and actually rather delicious in the city. Finishing off with a little drink at the end, this introductory foraging walk through the parks and streets of Brighton will give you a taster of what you are missing…

The walk is £10 per person (with kids free) and you can book through our Eventbrite page…

We look forward to seeing you!

(image by claire potter)

***REVIEW*** – ‘What is Luxury’ exhibition at the V&A Museum…

Luxury. For some, this is an expensive watch, for others, the ability to sit and read a book uninterrupted for more than 10 minutes. It is difficult to explain and comes from a very personal foundation. However, there are also very cultural references to how we collectively view luxury – and also how we have historically thought about it and how we may think about it in the future. In short, it is not as simple as it may seem. But a current exhibition at the V&A Museum in London is tackling this exact question – ‘What is Luxury?’ – that runs until 27th September 2015.What is Luxury 1

What is Luxury? includes individual pieces of work from designers, artists and makers and positions them within terminologies which helps viewers both engage and interrogate their values – both of the piece and their own views. Beautifully presented, each of the items create a narrative through the exhibition, questioning also our relationship with our own products and belongings.

It also challenges our views of ‘luxury’ and essentially, ‘challenges preconceived notions of value and provides an opportunity for thinking about the future of luxury in the 21st century’

This is where the exhibition gets very interesting for us, as essentially, the current ‘throw away’ model of consumption is not sustainable, and although we often think of ‘luxury’ products as something we will retain and treasure, does a longevity of use – what we want people to do – mean that it is a luxury item? Or is it a beautiful, functional, upgradable everyday item? Where does luxury begin and end and will our application of the term ‘luxury’ change?What is Luxury 2

Also, the creation of a product speaks a great deal of it’s perceived luxury status. Something quick, cheap and throwaway is not luxury, yet a piece of developed hand craft is, with the material it is made from also adding to the value – perceived or monetary?What is Luxury 3

As designers, this is one of the most interesting exhibitions we have visited lately as it nailed down elements of our collective relationship with ‘things’. For many, luxury is something we aspire to, however that may take form, but it was very interesting to think about how luxury may look in the future. Given our depleting resources, will a future luxury item’s materiality look very everyday now, as a material becomes more scarce?

‘What is Luxury’ is one of those exhibitions which throws up more questions than it answers – a really good place to be.

And want to see if you own ‘luxury’ items? Have a go at The Definery project to see.

‘What is Luxury’runs until 27th September in the Porter Gallery at the V&A Museum – entry free.

(images by Claire Potter)

SPOTTED – the NURDkit by Alice Kettle…

In the last of our SPOTTED’s we are looking at a project that really caught our eyes and hearts at New Designers this year – the NURDkit by Alice Kettle, which educates people to the problems with nurdles.

 

So why did this catch our eye? Once upon a time, in a childhood far, far away, I wanted to be a marine biologist and spend my life studying sharks with a view to conserving their numbers and educating people to their true, non-killer personalities. Fast forward a few years, and marine conservation is still very high on our concern list as a studio. And one of the biggest concerns of ours is plastic. There is too much generally and too much is ending up in our seas and oceans.

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But, despite the images of deceased birds full of plastic, scenes of great oceanic gyres full of a plastic soup gradually degrading to particles that are eaten by fish and get into the food chain, many people do not know the true scale of the issues with plastic in our seas.

And although we can all spot the empty drinks bottles and spent lighters on the strand line of a beach, there is a particular type of plastic that we all see, but many of us do not recognise. The nurdle.

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But it is these tiny dots of raw material plastic that end up manufacturing the vast majority of the plastic products we consume globally.

We were immediately drawn to the work of Alice Kettle for these reasons – she has created a kit that allows people – and particularly children – to sieve out the tiny pieces of plastic (the nurdle) from the beach, safely remove them and even use them to create another NURDkit. A simple, yet elegant premise that aids to educate as well as creating something responsible.

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Speaking to Kettle, who was both passionate and highly knowledgeable on the subject, we could see clear similarities with one of our all time favourite projects – the Sea Chair by Studio Swine, which also seeks to reclaim plastic from the ocean, turning it into one off chairs. Whilst poetic in nature, both projects are seeking to educate about the overwhelming scale of the issue – much of which is unseen by the general public.

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We are passionate that these are the sorts of projects and products that we should be championing – one that deals with a real issue – in even the smallest of ways. If we demand these kinds of responsible products as consumers, more will be created.

Inside the NURDkit

However, given the scale of the issue, can well meaning projects such as the NURDkit really create change? It’s certainly a start. And starting is what we need.

We just hope that there will be more projects like Kettle’s at New Designers 2016.

(all images via Alice Kettle)

ooh – we have won another award!

Morning all! Welcome to the start of a new week – and we are delighted to announce that we have won another award here on The Ecospot, being listed as the ‘best in upcycling’ category by Surveybee in their 2015 Eco-Chic Blogger Awards.

We are over the moon – thank you everyone!

SurveyBee Top 8 Picks: Best Eco-Chic Blogs

weekend words – contrast brings excitement…

contrast brings excitement(image and photography by claire potter)

SPOTTED – the Offcut Stool by Harry Hope-Morley…

In the second of our series of SPOTTED from New Designers part 2 last week, we are featuring a great stool by Harry Hope-Morley that is made from smaller components of timber – the Offcut Stool.

Whilst there was a huge amount of furniture being exhibited at ND, much of it (I’m sorry to say) merged in with the next piece and whilst beautifully finished, there was not a huge amount of differentiation from previous years. It felt safe and not forward thinking. But, I was delighted when we turned the corner to see the Offcut Stool – it was well designed, refined, with a good ethical foundation and was different.

With each of the components being created from a far smaller piece of timber than would be the norm in furniture design, the Offcut Stool celebrates these differences completely unapologetically, with each timber being true to it’s natural tones and grains.

The end result is an almost DIY kit form effect, but with a very high finish. It was also easy to see how the stool could be amended to different configurations too, with a bit of a change in components.

We thought it was delightful, and certainly challenged the view of what we perceive as ‘waste’, as the end result does not have the stereotypical view of a product created from waste.

This surely is the point of creating good, ethical new products – we need to use waste materials but reframe them in a way that speaks of their quality, precision and longevity.

Plus, after speaking to Harry at the show, we heard that they will soon be gracing the floor of one of our favourite, ethical restaurants in Brighton… Great news!

(images via Harry Hope-Morley)

SPOTTED – Perished Pets at New Designers – One Year On…

Last week we were not here because we were up at New Designers with the University of Sussex final year Product Designers, and whilst we were there, we took the opportunity to have a bit of a scout about. We found some really interesting graduate work from around the UK – as well as a few selected designers who had been invited back, one year on, and it was here that we met Krysten Newby and her Perished Pets.

With the rise in public interest in taxidermy, Perished Pets has taken the slant of ‘the world’s most convenient taxidermy pet’ – stating that ‘no food or water is required’ and that there is no need for an expensive veterinary bill over the life of your pet. Of course, there will also be no clearing up, no running away and unsurprisingly, ‘no unexpected death’. Each piece comes with an adoption certificate and carry case, which continues the graphic design element of the brand (Newby graduated last year as a graphic designer).

But even though Perished Pets is highly stylised as a brand (with a great logo – see the skull? nice), it is clearly stated that each of the animals are road kill or have been killed humanely for other animal consumption – nothing was killed in the making of this perished pet.

Now, taxidermy will always be a divider. Some will think that it is not that ethical, some will argue it depends on the animal origins and some people cannot get enough. We understand this.

But, as far as craft goes, we were very taken with the skill that Newby shows with her taxidermy. A combination of humanistic and naturalistic forms give each piece great interest, and the ‘extras’ such as necklaces, bows and such do not overpower the animals themselves. We adored the Jay, Topaz, which we were told was found, passed-on outside a hospital…

So – if you are into your taxidermy, have a squiz at Perished Pets. It was certainly one of the stand out exhibitions at New Designers – One Year On this year.

(images via Perished Pets)