SPOTTED – the Sting stool by Aud Julie Befring…

Today on SPOTTED we have a fantastic stool that we noticed on Design Milk, who had in turn spotted it at the 100% Norway stand as part of Tent London. It ticks all the boxes for us – fusing interesting, comfortable, modern design with craft and handmade aspects. It is honest.

Rising Stars at 100% Norway

The stool / storage box actually brings together two Norwegian traditions – embroidery and log building, but in a very clean and minimal way. This updating of traditional craft is something that has been gaining momentum over the past few years as designers take the essence of the handmade and putting it firmly in a contemporary context.

Context of materials is also very important – the Sting stool is a perfect example as it utilises birchwood in its construction – a native of the Scandinavian regions, relatively fast growing and being able to be harvested responsibly. A must for material choices.

(image via Design Milk)

Wednesday walls – espalier apples, alliums and box…

Today on Wednesday walls we are giving you a very brief peek at our new studio, which is finally taking shape and will be open very soon for the Brighton Eco Open Houses tours in the middle of this month. It is an old public toilet that we have converted into a new design studio (in keeping with our upcycling obsession), and as well as having a lovely interior space, we have a lovely exterior space too – which we are filling with fruit and herbs, including espalier apples, alliums and box. espalier apples alliums and box 1Now, you may be thinking where the wall aspect comes in today – well, with our south facing studio we have two walls which are perfect for fruit trees – and specifically, espalier trained apple trees.

The espalier trees not only benefit from the support of the wall (they will be tied into supports on the wall), the fruit will benefit from the heat that the bricks will store.

espalier apples alliums and box 2We have chosen two espalier apples for the front of the studio, which have now been underplanted with Purple Sensation Alliums, Box (which will be trained into spheres) and lavender, to aid pollination. The rest of the planters are now filled with more bulbs, grasses, herbs and fruit – plus there will be seasonal vegetables planted too over the coming months.

As well as the side walls, we have the front facade of the building, which will soon have a kiwi fruit scrambling up the front and a green wall planted above the cycle racks…

So – make the most of your walls for planting – and get fruity!

(photos by claire potter)


SPOTTED – the Factorylux Eco-Filament bulb by Urban Cottage Industries

We are often faced with decisions as designers. Some large, some small – but decisions none the less. As we specialise in industrial styled interior design, we tend to favour the bare bulb aesthetic, with braided fabric cable and metal fixings and fittings. But, when we are working with a client to create a responsible space as well as one that is stunning, we are faced with the decision of what type of bulb to specify. For aesthetics, we would go for a traditional filament style bulb, but this choice is not the most eco friendly, so we usually plump for LED’s or the statement energy saving PLUMEN bulb. But now, we do not need to worry, because the clever and very lovely people at Urban Cottage Industries have created the Factorylux Eco-Filament bulb. And we are beyond excited.

factorylux eco-filament-with-boxThis is the first viable, energy saving alternative to the traditional filament bulb, and has a beautiful appearance. The Factorylux Eco-filament is available as a result of a partnership between Dutch medical, aerospace and avionic lighting specialist, NDF Special Light Products, and Urban Cottage Industries, the leading UK manufacturer behind Factorylux lighting.

eco-filament-close-upThe Factorylux Eco -Filament bulb is ‘A’ rated for energy use, is dimmable and yet looks like the bulbs that graced our lights in the early 20th Century. It is the perfect combination of the traditional aesthetic with modern technology – these lovelies will last 25,000 hours. If you are are building an eco industrial or steampunk interior, these are for you.

eco-filament-groupWant to know more about these fantastic bulbs? Look here…

(images courtesy of Urban Cottage Industries)

Monday Musings – designers, plants and conversations…

Today on Monday musings we are looking at something that happened at the weekend that sparked a bit of an ‘aha’ moment. We are (still) in the process of finishing our new studio – a former public toilet in Hove that we are converting into a design studio and, as we are nearing the completion date, we are getting into the final additions and nice bits. One of these nice bits included building, painting and planting the new raised beds at the front of the studio, which faces directly onto the street, slightly set back from the main pavement.

Despite it being a weekend, there were rafts of people on Portland Road – locals, families, people out walking dogs, running, getting the paper… It was buzzing. And as I was sitting there sanding, painting and planting I got to talk to a lot of them. Many people came to ask what the studio was going to be, when we would be open and what we do.

And then it occurred to me. Many of the people I spoke to were not completely sure what a design studio was until we were chatting. They wanted to know how it worked, how many of us there will be, what sort of projects we do – the sort of thing that often gets hidden away in offices out of sight and secret from most people.

This was the first time I had thought about it. Our current office is tucked away, and the only ‘public appearances’ we make are at events or through our projects themselves. Otherwise, the design process is invisible.

How can we expect people to engage with design if we hide ourselves away in our studios and workshops?

This is why I think it is so important for designers to get into the real world and help people understand exactly what we do and how it impacts us all. Not in a pretentious sense of course, but so we can gain a greater understanding of what people need, care about and show how design can help.

So this is why it was delightful to talk to people outside the new studio at the weekend. It was also wonderful to talk to people who had never thought about design at all, as well as other designers who popped past and stopped to chat. As I was there, covered in paint, sawdust, compost and bits of foliage I was not a scary designer. I was someone planting and painting.

Designers are just people  – and hopefully people who care very deeply about myriad issues. We need to show people that we are not scary. We are regular people.

wednesday walls – a lovely quote for any wall…

Today on Wednesday walls we thought we would find a nice quote, especially as we Weekend Words has taken a bit of a break over the last couple of weeks because of our escapades at the London Design Festival. Plus, we have also been in the thick of discussing exactly what creativity is all about – in all levels. But, we found this fantastic quote print and knew that it was just going to fit perfectly…

Design Quotes #7 Art Print

This just says it all. Being creative is all about making the odd mistake – indeed, there are few creative activities that do not actually benefit from the results of serendipity. But, experimenting and discovering is not what design is about. It is a very small part, but design is also having the ability – and skill – to know what is worthwhile keeping and which ones should be banked for another day.

And we say banked, because they are. It is vital that all these ‘mistakes’ are well documented and placed somewhere where they can be pulled back out, because you never know when you could need them again. A sketchbook is our friend.

Fancy this for your wall? It is available now on Society 6 here

(image via society 6)

tuesday musings – the power of fixing – again, continued…

Today on Tuesday Musings we are carrying on with the ramblings of yesterday – what we were up to at the London Design Festival with Fixperts and Sugru – spreading the word of design, and essentially, fixing as an integral part of the design process and education. After the Sugru ‘Love Your Stuff’ party on Wednesday, we took another trip up to London on Saturday to run a workshop for Fixperts.

London Design Festival 2014Located in Shoreditch, we were part of the Saturday Market Project, which originally hails from New York but is now also now a London based, international group of designers and design enthusiasts. They collaborate with designers and makers across the spectrum of new materials, techniques and products, offering workshops for learning and selling products through their shop and events.

Saturday Market ProjectWe were part of the Fixperts workshop on Saturday afternoon which ran for three hours – letting people know what Fixperts did, how anyone can get involved, but also making a couple of products which have sprung out of Fixing and Fixperts workshops.

We also took two students from the BSc Product Design degree at the University of Sussex (where I teach on some modules) to give them a real insight into the power of making, connecting with people and how far reaching design interventions can be.

Saturday Market Project Fixing workshop 2It was a great afternoon – the rest of the projects on show at the Saturday Market Project were beautifully considered, well executed and demonstrated with passion by the other on site designers. We soon had a room full for our workshop, and after a bit of an introduction by Fixperts co-founder Daniel Charny, we got into making our fix – a headphone holder to eliminate tangled headphones from everyday items, such as foldback clips and wooden pegs.

headphone holders 1Everyone made their own headphone holder to take away – with many people altering the design slightly to suit their own tastes and needs. An extra clip. Glued together. Minimal. Decorated.

This is key – quick solutions that not only solve the problem in a low cost way, but are altered to suit exactly your own requirements. By investing a bit of time and effort, the problem is eliminated and you are more invested in the resulting product.

headphone holders 2As well as the headphone holder, we also grouped together to make one of the designs that originated from a Fixpert video – a simple needle threader using just three items which is now available to buy as a kit from the SMP web shop so others can also benefit from the design. Saturday Market Project Fixing workshop FixpertsIt was another great afternoon of design, plus design that creates change and a hands on approach to problem solving. Which is surely what all design should be about?

(photos by claire potter)

Monday musings – the power of fixing – again…

Today on Monday musings, (and tomorrow as we are splitting what would otherwise be a very long post) we have a little run down of the activities we took part in last week for the wonderful London Design Festival, which unsurprisingly all had a bit of a tilt towards sustainable design and fixing and the circular economy in general. With our Fixperts hat on, we did a whole range of fixes over the week, plus visited a couple of great exhibitions too…

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 4First up, on Wednesday evening, we were delighted to be invited to be part of the Sugru ‘Love Your Stuff’ party at Look Mum, No Hands in Hackney. It was great – a celebration of items that people had owned, looked after and loved (which were then drawn on by four fantastic illustrators) and a celebration of fixing.

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 5We were there with the purpose of fixing as many things as possible – on the spot with low cost, fast solutions that we could teach others. As with the last Fixperts fix station we ran, we had a great response with many people bringing items that needed a bit of attention, from bike lights to headphones, bowls to a unicorn. We fixed what we could on the spot, and for those things that needed extra care, we sent people happily on their way with a shopping list and instructions for how to fix something. It was great.

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 3Plus, we were sitting next to the great Restart Project, which help people fix all things electronic – teaching people how to do it themselves and not just doing it for them. We ended up building bits to help fix the insides of a laptop that had been brought along – nothing electronic, but a few bits of components and supports that had been broken and rendered useless. We sat and thought about it, and with a bit of lateral thinking, helped the guy fix his laptop. This was a common discussion throughout the week – how design is not just there to solve problems, but also to empower people to be able to add to, fix and hack their own products – gaining confidence and ownership of their belongings…

Fixperts and Sugru fixing Party 2

(tomorrow on Monday Musings part 2 we will be looking at the rest of our London Design Festival activities…)

photos by claire potter)

*** EVENT TODAY *** Fixperts at the Saturday Market Project…

the ecospot blogToday we will be putting our Fixperts hats on once more, running a make it workshop for the Saturday Market Project in the Shoreditch Design District.

As well as offering our on the spot fixes for things that are a bit broken, we will be demonstrating how quick, simple, design can make a real difference to problems of all scales. Pop along between 2-5 to be part of the action, and look here for all details as there are fantastic things going on all day from a huge variety of practioners…

SPOTTED – meet the bike builders – Brompton Bicycles…

Today on our weekend SPOTTED we are highlighting a London Design Festival event that we actually mentioned earlier in the week, but think it is worthy of its own post – the Meet the Bike Builders event, run by the iconic Brompton Bicycles…

Setting up in the basement of Squint Ltd for the duration of the London Design Festival, Brompton Bicycles will be showcasing and demonstrating the manufacturing techniques of their distinctive folding bikes, so if you are interested in the making and engineering that goes into the mechanisms, this is an event for you.

If, however, you are all about the customising, then this could also be a great event for you, as Brompton are giving visitors the opportunity to design and purchase their own bike from a collection of different coloured and styled parts.

This is another area of great interest for us – the concept of mass customisation is being heralded as the way forward for some design. Allowing the end user to customise, alter and personalise a product, even when it is mass produced, could ensure that there is a deeper connection with the piece, perhaps ensuring it has a longer life. This is a step between the personally handmade and the mass produced as the consumer is given the opportunity to be part of the design process.

On a lighter note, you can ensure that nobody else has the same thing you have. And we all want to be different…

(image via London Design Festival)

SPOTTED – the Rag and Bone Man pop up exhibition…

Today on SPOTTED we have another little gem for you in the eco stakes. Whilst it is wonderful to see the brand, spanking new designs on show, we do try and seek out a few events that are perhaps concerned with wider sustainability issues within the design world. On Wednesday we wrote about (and visited) the Ella Doran / Galapagos Design / Great Recovery Project exhibition at the V&A, which is a demonstration of how new design can be created from old, and today we are looking at another practitioner who works in a similar, but very different way – Designer Craftsman Paul Firbank, otherwise known as the Rag and Bone Man.

But this is not the rag and bone man of our youth (yes – I do remember them) – Firbank creates the most incredible structures, products and pieces of furniture from scrap metal as diverse as golf clubs to aeroplane wings. And they are beautifully finished.

As a studio that is firmly rooted in the responsible – but with detail and quality being paramount, we are delighted that people like Paul Firbank are creating pieces that can be used as beautiful, recycled statements for spaces. This type of designing also keeps skills alive and shows brilliant ingenuity.

So – visit the pop up exhibition at the London Design Festival (In the Queens Park Design District) from the Rag and Bone Man here, and here’s a little introduction to the work of Paul Firbank…

(image via the London Design Festival)