weekend colour inspiration – purple and greens…

We quite often bang on about how you can find inspiration anywhere, and if you can’t, look again (which is also the title of one of our favourite books by Paul Smith). Well, for our weekend colour inspiration this week we have a photo that we took whilst in the rather magnificent Arundel Castle Gardens – nice combo of purple and greens in these lovely Cobea flowers…

purple and green


But what to do with such a palette? Purple and greens are often seen in exterior spaces, and are actually two of our favourite shades, but for an interior? Well, they are both rather strong, so perhaps think about using them sparingly on a few accent pieces, such as throws and cushions.

Our favourites are the traditional Welsh blanket geometric designs by the wonderful Melin Tregwynt, which have been proudly woven in Wales for the last 100 years, which come in a huge variety of colour combinations – including purple and greens.


This St David’s Cross design is one of a collection in the ‘cassis’ group which feature great combinations of the colours.

A lovely way to bring a bit of purple and greens into an interior…

(top photo by claire potter, lower photos via melin tregwynt)

SPOTTED – structures in Arundel Castle Gardens…

Last week we had a very rare day off to visit Arundel Castle for the medieval tournament (which was fantastic) but as well as watching the most magnificent jousting and sword fighting, we also had a very lovely tour of the gardens. We have already spoken about the inspired allium and lavender planting combination that we spotted in the cutting garden, but today we are looking at a few of the structure in the Arundel Castle Gardens

First up is this wonderful green oak arch / walkway that features in the Collector Earl’s Garden, which is beautifully simple, yet also a very accomplished piece of timber structuring.

arundel castle gardens 1

Framing views, the archway and dome provide both focal points and a touch of shade in the otherwise exposed Italianate styled garden. This is a key top tip for spaces of any size – if the eye sees everything at once then a space can feel uninteresting or even a great deal smaller than it actually is. By framing views and breaking up the expanse you create increased interest in any space, whilst also having the opportunity to direct a focus in any direction you choose, such as towards a sculpture or even the view beyond.

arundel castle gardens 4

The timber structures in the space continued with a quite incredible wooden folly, decorated with antlers.

arundel castle gardens 6

And also the fantastic Oberon’s Palace, which featured fountains and sculptures and was surrounded with large terracotta pots filled with cool coloured Agapanthus.

arundel castle gardens 5

But the structures continued into the cutting and edible gardens too, with the imposing green oak arched walkway being reflected in an apple archway, which not only provided a productive architectural element to the second part of the gardens but visually tied these very different spaces together.

arundel castle gardens 2

Covered with (we think) Ashmead’s Kernel, the apple archway also allowed framed views of the historical buildings of Arundel…

arundel castle gardens 3

The Arundel Castle Gardens are all accessible within the entry level ticket and, in our opinion, are one of the huge highlights. There is a stunning amount of variety, and at this time of the year, they are also abundant with flowers and fruits. Plus, the Head Gardener and team are out and about – and were very pleased to impart their knowledge of the space and the gardens to the visitors. We were even given a small bunch of sweet peas.

A wonderful gem of an attraction in Sussex – the Arundel Castle Gardens are beautiful, slightly bonkers and varied. Which in our book is quite a winning combination.

(photos by claire potter)


wednesday walls – geometric splashback…

Today on Wednesday walls we are looking at a rather fantastic splashback for a modern kitchen that we spotted on Desire to Inspire. Bold, bright and very geometric. Oh, hello.

Forming the central panel of what the architects (Camille Hermand Architects) are calling the ‘kitchen hub’, the otherwise sleek and relatively neutral design is punched through with a bright and geometric feature panel by Minakani Lab.

We love this – it shows that you do not have to go overboard with the colours to get a bit of richness into the space, and this particularly works as the triangular forms are echoed in the shape of the lighting in the recess and the angular herringbone patternation of the parquet floor.

So, do not be afraid of a bit of colour – and a bit of variety in colour even if you are creating a very modern design – link the forms in with other elements of the space so it does not feel disjointed. Any geometric pattern would work in a modern setting, so go bold and go geometric…

(image via Desire to Inspire)

SPOTTED – the Hookie Planter…

We do love a bit of internal planting here on the Ecospot, especially when it is hanging planting. Plants really can make the space come alive, plus it can help to soften an otherwise hard interior design scheme, especially if you are going down the industrial styled route, as we often are. Add in the air cleansing qualities of plants and you are onto a winner. So when we saw these new Hookie planters, we were, er, hooked. hookie

Founded by Finnish industrial designer Niko Laukkarinen, the Hookie was borm out of the idea of supporting multiple plants from one single fixing point. It is also rather sculptural, which is an element that we particularly like.

And you can also support the project itself, as it is currently looking for funding here.

Play Hookie With These Hanging Planters in main home furnishings  Category

(images via Hookie funded by me page)

monday musings – Natwest Venus Awards Brighton and Sussex…

Ok. We are doing a little bit of trumpet blowing today. Last week, on a blisteringly hot day in Brighton, we went to the Grand for afternoon tea with the Natwest Venus Awards for Brighton and Sussex. We were delighted that we had been nominated for the awards in the Green Business category and even more delighted that we had made it to the semi-finals of these very prestigious awards.

Natwest Venus Awards 2

We met a raft of other, very inspirational women who work across a variety of sectors and we were shocked and very humbled when we were announced a Finalist in our Green Business category, with the winner being revealed at a red carpet event in October, also at the Grand hotel in Brighton.

Natwest Venus Awards 1

It is absolutely wonderful to be recognised in this way for the work that we do in eco design and we are ecstatic to be finalists in the Natwest Venus Awards, but ultimately we wish that eco design and green business was not segmented at all and it was just the way that everyone went about their business – with ethics and care for the implications their actions have.

It can be harder, it can take longer, but ultimately we think this is just the way it should be done, or to quote one of our lovely clients and fellow Natwest Venus Awards Finalists, hiSbe – it’s just how it Should be.

(photo by claire potter)

weekend colour inspiration – a Brighton beach hut…

Well, not Brighton. Hove actually. But even still, when you are looking for colour inspirations, the beach huts of Brighton and Hove take a bit of beating – particularly if you are not shy of a bit of colour. The main colour of the beach huts are closely regulated (the green that everyone has to use is a British Standard colour called Iceplant Green), but the doors are completely up to the owner. So long as they are either a solid colour or striped, you can nearly do what you wish.

So, we quite often have a little wander about to see what the new colours that people have adopted look like in situ – especially at the start of the summer when they are fresh and newly painted.

Some go for a nice toned feel to the beach hut door, but some people go all out with a colour smash. This year, there appears to be a great deal of stripes about, but it was this particular combination on a Brighton Beach hut that took our breath away…

brighton beach hut

It is reminiscent of the sort of sour sweets or refreshers that we used to eat as kids – bright, brash and acidic. And we think we like it…

What do you think?

(photo by claire potter)

SPOTTED – alliums and lavender…

Lavender is one of those plants which we use a great deal in our landscape design schemes as it ticks multiple boxes. It is beautifully scented, has great all year round structure, is great for bees, is edible and is generally very hardy. What’s not to like really. Plus, you can get it in all sizes and in an increasing amount of shades of whites, blues and purples – even pinks, which are not so much our bag, but hey. Lavender is great.

Another thing that lavender is great for is for growing things through – we have underplanted lavender with dark Queen of the Night tulips before, which worked particularly well as they were not only given support whilst they grew, the colour contrast was amazing and the dying leaves of the tulips (which always look rather untidy) were concealed by the growing lavender. Win win.

alliums and lavender

So we are always looking for other examples of how lavender can be underplanted. Whilst at Arundel Castle this week for the Medieval Tournament we spotted this lovely example in the cutting garden, where dwarf lavender had been underplanted with alliums.

Both the alliums and lavender had gone past their best, but we thought it was a fantastic example of a planting pair. The alliums, which are notoriously top heavy were supported like footballs on top of the lavender and allowed them to remain as interesting structural seed heads in the bed.

Even when the lavender is cut back at the end of the season, the alliums can remain through the autumn to provide continued variation in the flower bed.

A really, really lovely example of pairing planting – we think this could also be used with rosemary, which has a similar growth habit to lavender and is also evergreen. Just keep the rosemary short and neat so the alliums can punch through the green.

(photo by claire potter)

wednesday walls – hidden features of architecture…

There is something rather magical about discovering something which has been hidden for a period of time. As Interior Architects, we have an incredible excitement when we start a new project with a client – discovering things about a space and weaving it into the new story. What was the building used for before? Are there any original features that we can work with? What is the character of the space? As we work a great deal in the industrial aesthetic of interior architecture and design we believe that finding these hidden features are essential to creating a rich experience. So we are always fascinated with the story.

Arundel window

And whist out and about yesterday (yes, the studio is on leave this week, but we had to publish this today) we spotted this rather fantastic example of a discovery of the old beneath the new.

Situated on Arundel High Street, the building in question was undergoing a series of renovations to both the interior and the exterior façade, but it was a particular panel that caught our eye.

Opened up for all to see, the rendered front wall had been stripped back – not as a solid wall but as a boarded false façade, revealing a timber structure below and beyond – a beautiful, original flint wall.

It is always amazing to think that these sorts of original details have been covered over, but remember – architecture goes in an out of fashion too and there was probably a point in time when the flint was not desired. It could also have been failing and leaking (or collapsing onto the street below), so covering it over with a second façade could have been the quickest and cheapest option.

We found a little window in one project we worked on that had been boarded up from the inside, but uncovered and refurbished it added precious light to the bathroom area.

But even though the Arundel example is an old building, dating probably around 1650 or so, do not forget that even ‘modern’ buildings can have little features and quirks that are waiting to be rediscovered… hidden features are everywhere – just do a bit of investigation…

(photos by claire potter)

Monday musings – The Men Who Made Us Spend…

We work as designers. We create new stuff for the world for all sorts of clients with all sorts of budgets in all sorts of styles. However, we work firmly within the ‘green design / eco design / sustainable design’ sphere, which is just where we think everyone should be designing from, regardless of who / what  /where you design. And we get rather incensed by the larger corporations who have the biggest clout and yet, sometimes the lowest regards for responsibility. The bigger you are the harder it can be to create a fully responsible design chain, but it is not impossible.   So it was also rather timely that we noticed the new series on BBC 2, which started last week – ‘The Men Who Made Us Spend’.

the men who made us spend

From the outset, this was – by far – one of the most interesting and engaging programmes to have been produced for a long while that tackled the complicated issues of consumer spending and the psychology of why we want the newest, better thing.

These are issues that designers of all spheres work with on a daily basis, and we all know that not everyone within our industries are working within the sustainability bubbles that we inhabit, but it made compelling watching. The decisions made by industries to include planned obsolescence within their products to promote further purchases, the tricks included in products to keep us – the owners – from getting inside and repairing them ourselves. Even the fact that battery packs on some products are deliberately sealed making a perfectly good product useless (unless you pay a large replacement fee) in as little as 18 months.

Even with product reclamation and material recycling increasing worldwide, the actual psychological and design decisions that are imposed on us are worrying and need changing. An interesting comparison was made with the IKEA ‘chuck out your chintz’ campaign and the fact that they are championing sustainability. It was wonderful watching and we highly recommend looking it up on the BBC iPlayer.

But really, this does show the two faces of products and repair – on one hand we have manufacturers creating products that are deliberately ‘disposable’ and ‘fast fashion’ we have the ground roots backlash of individuals and independent companies such as Sugru, Fixers cafes and designers who are not accepting that this is the way we should be creating. This is the camp that we firmly sit within and I am proud to say that I also sit on the British Standard Committee of  BS8887  - MADE, which relates to Design for Manufacture, Assembly, Disassembly and End of use processing, which sets out guidelines for processes for a more sustainable future…

Which is where we should all be heading.

(image via BBC 2)