New Surfers Against Sewage Regional Rep for Brighton!

A very quick post for the weekend – we are delighted to announce that Claire is to be one of new Regional Reps appointed by Surfers Against Sewage and will be covering the Brighton and Hove area! With the studio specialism and obsession with marine litter, the link up with Surfers Against Sewage is great – and will allow us to do even more with beach cleans and research to protect our beloved oceans.

west pier SAS regional rep

As they say – watch this space for more!

(photo by claire potter)

Friday photo – not all those who wander are lost…

Friday photo no15 – not all those who wander are lost – one of our favourite Tolkien quotes…

not all those who wander are lost

(image by claire potter design)

Friday photo – flex to suit your environment…

Friday photo no13 – flex to suit your environment…

flex to suit your environment

(image by claire potter design)

***SPOTTED*** the Eco Cooler – an air conditioning unit made from plastic bottles…

Many of us are very used to solving problems with a few clicks of the mouse. So when the temperature rises, fans and air conditioning units are purchased and plugged in around the globe, delivering cool air to make like a bit more bearable. But what if you can’t do this? What if you live in a hot country but do not have the means to ask Amazon to deliver you a fan, or indeed, the electricity to plug it into. This is the case for thousands of people across the globe. But there is something that could help, and could be made wherever it is needed – an air conditioning unit made from plastic bottles, called the Eco Cooler.

Using no electricity at all, the Eco Cooler, developed by Ashis Paul at Grey Dhaka works by funnelling the hot air from outside through the narrow neck of the bottle, compressing the air and cooling it – for example – breathe on your hand and it feels hot. Blow on your hand and it feels cool. It’s the same, very low tech method.

And of course, as we write about a great deal here on The Ecospot, plastic bottles can be found literally in all corners of the planet. Using them, or even reusing them as in the Eco Cooler is a very good idea indeed.

Mounted on a piece of waste board, this incredibly simple addition can lower the internal temperature by over 5 degrees – with no electricity required. In just 3 months, over 25,000 have been installed – many from the free downloadable plans available to all.

A great invention indeed.

(images via Inhabitat)

Monday Makers – Solidwool…

This week on Monday Makers we have a company who are really thinking differently about materials, waste, locality and just what you can do with a sack of wool… We are delighted to introduce Solidwool.


 Hi there! Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Solidwool is myself and my husband, Justin. We are based in Buckfastleigh, in south-west England, on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. A beautiful part of the world. We are lucky to live here.

We’ve developing Solidwool since 2012, but the material and products have been on sale since the beginning of 2015.

Justin Floyd & Solidwool

What do you make?

We have created a totally unique material called Solidwool. The easiest way to describe it is to say it is like fibreglass, but with wool.

We took inspiration from our home of Buckfastleigh, an old woollen town. We thought, if we can find a new way of working with wool then perhaps we could bring some wool industry back to the town. And in turn, create some local jobs.

Solidwool - Herdwick wool (Photo credit Jim Marsden) 2

The wool we use is coarse and undervalued, typically from hill-farmed sheep. It has lost its perceived value and so for many, it is seen as a by-product of sheep farming. A waste product.

We see a beauty in this undervalued resource and have used it to create a material which capitalises on wools inherent strength and turns it into a beautiful alternative to reinforced plastic.

Currently we make our products using wool from the iconic Herdwick sheep of the Lake District. We will soon also be introducing a Dartmoor Scotch Blackface Solidwool to the range.

Solidwool Hembury Chair (4)

The wool is combined with a bio-resin in a unique process we have developed. The resin has a roughly 30-40% bio content. The great thing is that the bio-resin industry is moving forward all the time. We aim to make a 100% natural composite, one day.

We design and manufacture our own range of furniture using Solidwool material. We also work with other companies who see a use for Solidwool products in their range. So far we have worked with companies such as Finisterre, Artifact Uprising and Blok Knives along with supplying flat sheet material to interior design projects for Brewdog Soho and the new Bertha’s Pizza in Bristol.

What is your favourite piece you create, and why?

The Hembury Chair.

Hembury Chair (with Feist Forest Samara table) (2)

It was the first product we created and so will always be a special one for us. It embodies so much of the rollercoaster that goes with setting up your own business. The amazing highs and the inevitable harder times.

What inspires you?

The outside. There is so much to be gained from time spent in the great outdoors. Humans have created so many amazing inventions and made such technological advances, but you can’t beat the stripped back, beauty of the natural world to clear the mind and inspire.

Solidwool - Herdwick wool (Photo credit Jim Marsden) 3

What is your favourite place? 

So many, no favourites, just lots of great places for many different reasons.

The sanctuary of home and that spot in our lounge in the morning sun. The raw beauty of Iceland. The mountains in Nepal. The campsite on St Agnes in the Scillies, totally exposed and facing out towards the Atlantic Ocean. The Scarlet Hotel, an amazing space with the best spa.

Ok – you are rulers of the world for the day. What one law do you bring in? 

The ban of single-use plastic. Plastic is in some ways an amazing durable material that has been created, but then it is used for single use items. It’s a complete materials mismatch.

It’s awesome to see how England’s plastic bag usage has dropped 85% since the 5p charge was introduced last October. Just think where else this could be rolled out to similar effect.

A Solidwool Dozen - New York Loft

What is your studio / company motto? 

It’s hard to pin one motto down, we have taken inspiration from so many different things.

Tim Smit, the creator of the Eden Project once said that “beauty will be the most important word of the next 15 years”. I think there is some truth in that. We want to create a beautiful material that helps people feel connected to the wilds that it came from.

‘Work hard and be nice to people’ is definitely a good motto to live by. (this is our favourite too at the cpd studio!)

I also really like this quote from Henry van Dyke. “Use what talents you possess, the woods will be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” It’s a good reminder that you don’t have to be an expert at something to give it a try.

Feist Forest & Solidwool (5)

Where can we see you next? 

Our friends Gavin Strange and Jane Kenney have just set up an online contemporary company making and selling beautiful products. It’s called STRANGE and they will be selling Solidwool products. They are launching with a pop-up event in Bristol at the Christmas Steps Gallery from 25th – 28th August.

We will also be taking part in the DO Market again this year. Organised by Miranda West who runs the Do Book Co, it’s a small curation of like-minded brands brought together by the Do Lectures. The first one was last year and there was such a buzz. It’s in London and I recommend adding it to your diary – 26th November.

We are also moving into a new factory space over the coming months and so are thinking of organising an open day there to celebrate. If you want to come along, sign up to our mailing list at www.solidwool.com/signup.

(www.solidwool.com / Twitter @solidwool / Instagram @solidwool)



A HUGE thank you to Solidwool – check them out and follow them on social media – a wonderful material with a deeply considered ethos. We love it. 

(all images courtesy of Solidwool)

Friday photo – man and nature…

Friday photo no13 – Man and Nature – we are all builders…

man and nature

(image by claire potter design)

The Guardian features ocean based companies tackling marine litter…

A few years ago, I was training for the Brighton Marathon and spent a good chunk of time clocking up the miles along the seafront promenade. What struck me (through the utter boredom) was how many people were running too. Had they always been there? Were they training for an event too? Or had I just never noticed them until now? Everywhere I looked, there were people running. And so it is with everything marine litter. Each day, we find more and more articles, products, initiatives to log in our marine litter files. Is it that we just are more tuned in, or are there more people actually talking (and doing something) about it? Is this the start of the ‘sea change’ on marine litter?

Big Spring Beach Clean 3

Who can say. But we did notice that The Guardian published a rather interesting round up of ‘surf related product innovations’ not in their sport and lifestyle pages, but in their circular economy section, which we think is rather telling.

For many, business and product innovation is something that happens in the city, or tucked away in workshops and design studios across the globe. Talk to someone about the surf industry and not everyone will make the connection with forward thinking – sustainable – product creation.

However, it has been our experience that those who are the closest to the problem have the most to gain from creating positive change, and of course, they understand the issue completely. So a whole range of sustainable business and product innovations related to marine litter from surf industries should fit like a non-neoprene glove.

So – here is the run down from The Guardian’s article, published 02 August 2016…

Otter Surfboards – created from wood rather than synthetics, with timber from local, responsible forests and with all ‘waste’ used somewhere else in the system, these boards are the pinnacle of hand made…

surfers stood on beach with wooden surfboards

 

Rareform – billboard surf bags – in the same vein as our beloved Frietag truck tarp bags, these surf bags utilise everything the advertising vinyls are good at. Hardwearing, waterproof and minimising waste.

Patagonia and Yulex – natural rubber rather than synthetic neoprene wetsuits made from highly managed, sustainable forests – launched this week. (NB – Natural rubber has been a bit of a poster material in the last few years, but as demand has gone up, ethical practices have been swamped by those seeking to make a wad of cash from rubber plantations created from cleared natural forests) Great to see Patagonia taking the lead – again.

More Product Views

Enjoy Handplanes– made from mushrooms. Yes, really. And expect to see lots more products hit our shelves as we are only just starting to realise the potential of this material…

Stacks Image 1505

FiveOceans – a surfboard fin made from recovered marine waste – working to save the five oceans.

ecoFin - Thruster Set for FCS Plugs

RubyMoon and Finisterre – swimwear made from Econyl – a yarn made completely from recovered waste nylon, such as fishing nets.

swimwear

So when you think about it, creating items from waste marine litter makes perfect sense, and who would be your earliest adopters? Those who work, live and play in the setting. They understand the issues and want to do something about it. It’s a great place to start.

(images via associated links)

Our ParleyAIR x Adidas marine plastic video…

There is nothing like a deadline. And yesterday evening, the end of July was the deadline for entries into the Parley x Adidas contest to win one of the concept pairs of new trainers made from recovered ocean plastic. As you can all imagine, with our studio obsession and work in marine litter (using the Parley AIR principles), these trainers are rather something special. We would LOVE to see a pair, let alone have the chance of having a set in the studio… So, we created a little video about why we think this is important and what we are doing about it and uploaded it to our Instagram account – something we have actually been meaning to do for a while. This contest was the nudge we needed. Our little vid is also a call to action if you will. Just think what we could achieve if we all work together…

Let us know your thoughts.

PS – we’ll certainly let you know if we get selected to receive a pair of the new ocean plastic trainers by Adidas and Parley – and be their ambassadors!

(video by claire potter design – shot using the MAVIS app)

***EVENT REVIEW*** – March of The Mermaids with World Cetacean Alliance…

Last Saturday, we were out and about again – this time with the World Cetacean Alliance at the March of the Mermaids in Hove, helping them spread the word about ghost gear netting and specifically, what you can do with it. Armed with a raft of experimental pieces of jewellery we created for our exhibit at Clerkenwell Design Week 2016, we were there for the day running making workshops with recovered netting from the beaches of Brighton. With attendees from age 3 upwards, we were busy!

March of the Mermaids 2016 WCA workshop

It was great to show everyone the issue up close and actually encourage them to feel the rope and see it as a material resource for new products, rather than something that should be consigned to landfill.

March of the Mermaids 2016 WCA workshop ghost gear jewellery

We knotted, weaved, plaited, threaded and combined the synthetic netting with simple jewellery findings and each attendee went away with a few new skills, loads of information and a new bracelet or two to help them tell the story to others. It was an encouraging sight.

March of the Mermaids 2016 WCA workshop 2
one of the ghost gear bracelets made at the workshops – complete with a nickel and zinc free little whale!

We also had time to catch up with the great guys and gals that make up the Brighton Etsy team, who have also teamed up with the World Cetacean Alliance to create new pieces inspired by their Untangled project brief. Launched at March of the Mermaids, the pieces range from patches to jewellery again – with a percentages of all the product sales from now until Christmas being donated directly to the World Cetacean Alliance.

il_570xN.1012470636_abma

And one of them is Lulu – of which I am extremely proud have the very first prototype for. She always gets stacks of attention when I wear her and I’m delighted that I can now direct people to Designosaur’s shop to get their own!

il_570xN.1057192783_5ayo

One of the purchases we made was this awesome print as a tote bag by Hello Dodo… just made us smile!

March of the Mermaids 2016 Hello Dodo

Take a look at their blog here to see all the pieces created by their members for WCA.

So, overall, a great fundraising and awareness raising day at March of the Mermaids for the World Cetacean Alliance – and watch this space for some more very exciting news about our work with WCA soon…!

(images by claire potter and the Brighton Etsy Team)

***EVENT*** March of the Mermaids – Hove Lawns Sat 23 July 2016…

Come and say hello! All of today we will be with the World Cetacean Alliance at their fundraising March of the Mermaids event on Hove Lawns talking about our research into marine litter and ghost fishing gear and showing you what you can do with it…

With the help of a lovely troop of interns from the World Cetacean Alliance, we will be transforming recovered fishing netting into a variety of jewellery pieces for sale throughout the day, as well as running workshops showing you how to make your own.

We look forward to seeing you!

https://www.facebook.com/mermaids.march?platform=hootsuite 

(image by claire potter design)

SPOTTED – plastic bag landscapes by Vilde Rolfsen…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, the mountains were my home. For a whole winter season I was in awe of the vast natural landscape, how many colours snow actually can be (hint – not just white) and how quickly the environment can change. Because of this, images of mountains have a special place in my heart and mind – and the images from Vilde Rolfsen stirred something in me. Except these gorgeous landscapes are not natural at all: if anything they are the complete opposite. They are made from plastic bags.

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

The irony is not lost. Rolfsen wants us to realise the implications of our decisions, however small, and the impact the scale of these decisions have on our local and wider environment. The ‘Plastic Bag Landscapes’ series are a collection of bittersweet images made from the worst of all discarded synthetic waste – plastic.

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

All picked up whilst in the UK, the plastic bags were cleaned, arranged, lit and coloured in the studio – and made to look like Tolkeinesque landscapes, which are stunning, yet awful, as Rolfsen comments in the series.

“Plastic bags are a huge contributor to the landfill waste and are extremely harmful for our oceans and the creatures living there. Do not say yes to a plastic bag when shopping.”

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

And what is particularly successful about these pieces is that they are genuinely beautiful. The material and subtext certainly isn’t, but creating something that people want to engage with, rather than being immediately repulsed by is a far more powerful thing to do. The message hits home harder when people realise what they are  – and why you have done it. We found this repeatedly when we exhibited our Ghost Gear Chandelier at Clerkenwell Design Week in 2016, made from recovered marine litter.

“When I have exhibited my work, people would come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been looking at this for a while and while it is beautiful I feel disgusted with myself because I now understand what this work is about,’” Rolfsen said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post “I think that sums it up pretty nicely.”

Vilde Rolfsen plastic bags 4

Realisation and subsequent behaviour change can be tricky and even though we now have the plastic bag charge in the UK, there are still multiple places that do not have to impose a charge – or of course, the option of buying another single use plastic bag.

So when you are posed with that situation again, think of the beautifully awful Plastic Bag Landscape series by Vilde Rolfsen and ask yourself – do you want your actions to be part of this?

(images courtesy of Vilde Rolfsen)

SPOTTED – PLANE – luggage made from reclaimed aeroplane textiles on Kickstarter…

We think it is pretty safe to say that Kickstarter has dramatically changed the way products are marketed and manufactured. If there is any place to see the cutting edge in product launches, it is here. And we were delighted to see the new product line from Plane Industries go live – PLANE – a series of accessories made from reclaimed aeroplane textiles.

PLANE phone sleeve

Mostly destined for landfill, aeroplane seating textiles that have been removed are by their very nature, hardwearing, with many years of use often left in each section. So, Plane Industries have decided to recover this waste material and reinvent it into luxury travel goods, from phone covers to weekend bags.

PLANE products

The pieces are well designed and look well made, using quality fixings and secondary materials, with a quilted cross hatch pattern reminiscent of other high-end pieces of luggage. Available in blue plain / striped colourways, the products mean business. Luxury reinvented, they say, but luxury in a different way…

PLANE quote

Hear hear. But what we particularly like about the range is the attention to detail, along with the emphasis on stories and history. Each item gets stamped with the fingerprint of the material – the heights reached, the miles travelled. Things that take the piece from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and things that help to identify the product as something far more special than a mass produced item.

PLANE label

When using ‘waste’ materials, it is critical that these stories are communicated from the maker to the eventual product owner. We like things that have history, yet we are conditioned to think that ‘waste’ is worthless. And whilst using reclaimed materials is critical as our resources continue to deplete, costs are often higher, meaning that we need to connect waste with a higher standard of product. This is no mean feat, but those that do it well, do it very well indeed. The PLANE range of products certainly does this well.

PLANE messenger bag

To top it all? Plane Industries will also stamp your initials on the tag. Personalisation, ownership, emotional attachment – meaning love, care and a long product life…


Head over to the PLANE main site, and check our their Kickstarter page (till August 11th 2016), where you can pledge for something special.

(images via the PLANE Kickstarter)

SPOTTED – sustainable product design at New Designers 2016… pt2

On Tuesday, we started our pick of the best sustainable design we spotted at the recent graduate design show New Designers – and with over 3,000 exhibitors showing their work it was no mean feat to select our favourite. Tuesday saw our pick of the ‘different materials’ projects, where the designers have rethought a waste material into something new. Today, we are looking at ‘recycling and repair’…

Starting at the University of Brighton’s 3D Design and Craft stand, we were delighted to see a really interesting mix of well thought out projects, finished beautifully.

Helen Jones 5

The work of Helen Jones, entitled ‘Alternate Endings’ looked to challenge the throwaway culture we have, and endeavours to reinstate the value of a product with visible repair.

Helen Jones 2

The range of products shown were really beautiful – from plastic repairs to ceramic and metal restorations. A very poetic and powerful set of pieces.

Helen Jones 3

Also on the University of Brighton stand was the work of Ella Hetheringon, who immediately had us hooked with her investigations into ‘Forgotten and Future Foods’.

Ella Hetherington 1

Looking into how we could both eat sustainably whilst connecting with the seasons, Ella also created tools made from site specific materials. The marine plastic handled knives were a real thing of beauty…

Ella Hetherington 2

Whilst the detailing on the folded leather bowls was delicate and considered. A very nice set of works indeed.

Moving onto plastics, there were two recycled plastic projects which really stood out for us this year – and interestingly, both won New Designers Awards too. Is this a sustainable shift we see?

Jack Hubery 4

First up is the work of Jack Hubery, who tackled the issues with our obsessions with plastic by creating a kit system to allow people to reuse their own plastics at home.

Jack Hubery 3

The ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’ created a series of recycled plastic plates, made using a simple jig that fitted in a domestic oven. Would this type of plastic reuse increase the emotional connectivity with the material and encourage a more sustainable use of plastic? An interesting set of pieces for sure.

In a similar vein, Josh James from the University of West England was also using recycled plastic, with another ‘kit’ to allow plastic reuse at home.

Josh James 1

The pieces had a very appealing, sweetie style aesthetic, with colours and effects marbeled through both the geometrically moulded final products and the nuggets of sample combinations. We particularly liked the illustration of how much material went into a piece.

Josh James 2

And after winning the Not On the High Street Award, we will keep our eyes open for perhaps some bespoke recycled plastic pieces online soon…

So there we have it. Our top eight designers spotted at New Designers 2016 who were doing something sustainable and interesting. We look forward to seeing what they get up to next, and here’s hoping that we will have far more to cover next year.

(all images by claire potter)