*** EVENT *** our next Urban Foraging Walk in Brighton is up…

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cherry plum foragingFancy a bit of guided foraging in Brighton? join us on our next Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on Sunday 6th September – check out our Eventbrite page for more details here…

SPOTTED – recycled fishing net sunglasses by Bureo Skateboards…

You know how you start doing something, then suddenly see loads of people doing it too? That has certainly been happening recently, as we have extended our research into marine litter and the possibilities of recycling the waste into new products. Last week, we dedicated all three of our blog posts to the issues of marine waste, and we had to share another great product find we happened upon this week too – the new range of recycled fishing net sunglasses by Bureo Skateboards.

Founded in Chile, Bureo Skateboards create new boards from discarded, end of life nets collected from fishermen in the countries first ever net recycling program. To date, the Net Positiva 45600 square feet of nets that could otherwise have been sent to landfill or discarded overboard. Minnow Complete Cruiser Skateboard

The resulting product is the Minnow – a recycled plastic skateboard that has grip ridges like fish scales, but the program has also linked up with other coastal campaigns to support ocean clean-up, showing their commitment to the cause.

But not satisfied with skateboards, Bureo is currently in the thick of a new Kickstarter campaign to launch their latest recycled net product – 100% recycled plastic sunglasses.

The Newen

Created using the same reclaimed and recycled fishing nets in the Net Positiva scheme, the range of sunglasses, which are a collaborative project with eyewear brand Karun, will come in three frame shapes and two lens colours has just reached it’s target of $30,000, over two weeks ahead of schedule.

The three frames in The Ocean Collection are all slightly different, suited to both male and female face shapes – with each being inspired by a species of whale, continuing the link with ocean conservation within the products.

We really like these glasses. Yes, they are plastic, but the reasoning behind their material selection is well founded and based in responsible, reclaimed plastic rather than virgin materials. As we explored last week, unless it has been incinerated, every piece of plastic we have ever created is still on our lands and in our oceans, so we are firmly behind projects that look to reclaim this plastic and put it back in use. Plus, if your glasses reach the end of their life, Bureo will take them back and reprocess them – this circularity is what is needed with our products, not the single life we have come to know.

Want to know more? Look at their Kickstarter here – and check out their video below…

(images via Bureo Kickstarter)

SPOTTED – Decomposition Books…

As much as we would not be without our technology, we are complete and utter suckers for stationery. I have to admit, that I was that kid who looked forward to the restart of school over summer, so I could put take stock, replenish and reorganise my pencil case and pen collection. A trip to an art or stationery shop still gives me a thrill. But, as the years have worn on, the studio has become far more critical of the pieces we buy. Refillable, or recyclable are top of the list, along with only using 100% recycled, unbleached paper. And decoration is kept to a distinct minimum. Mostly. We make an exception with Decomposition Books though…

decomposition books

Made by Michael Rogers in the USA, this fantastic collection of reasonably priced notebooks, sketchbooks and lined books are filled with 100% post consumer waste paper, which is great, but the covers are just fantastic.

A huge range of patterns, the range is linked by their limited colour palette and graphic, often repetitive patterns. It is modern, whilst having a very nostalgic nod. They are also printed with soy inks, which is a far more ecologically alternative to the standard printing methods usually employed on these types of products.

We love them. Our favourites are the dinosaur printed one, plus the topographical map and under the sea variants also have a special place on our desks.

So – which one is yours?

(images by claire potter design and via Michael Rogers)

Reclaimed ocean plastic is the material of the moment…

So – for two of our posts this week we have looked at the Project Ocean exhibition currently at Selfridges – and we thought we would continue with this theme with a look at two of the recent releases by big brands that highlight the ocean plastic plight.

Adidas x Parley recycled ocean waste sneaker

First up is the recent concept shoe by Adidas and British designer Alexander Taylor – the Adidas x Parley, revealed at an event for the Parley for the Oceans initiative, which encourages creatives to repurpose ocean waste for awareness design.

The shoe, which is hoped to go into production in 2016 uses fibres created from nets recovered from illegal poaching vessels by marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd. As well as the material, the design of the shoe also references the waves of the nets in its patternation.

Adidas x Parley recycled ocean waste sneaker

What is key is that Taylor and Adidas were able to create the concept shoe using the same machinery and methods that a ‘regular’ shoe is manufactured. Many of the arguments around using recycled yarns and materials centre around the misconception that there has to be massive manufacturing alterations to create form ‘waste’, so this move from Adidas shows this does not need to be the case.

Whilst Adidas are keen to promote this as a ‘concept’ shoe, we hope that this does not remain on the concept shelf and actually goes into production. Sceptics could argue that this, excuse the pun, is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to both reclaiming ocean plastic and creating new design from a waste material. Plus, given the size of Adidas it could be seen as a little bit greenwashy, but hey – shouldn’t this be the exact behaviour we should be encouraging big brands to undertake? Isn’t this better than the alternative of creating from virgin materials?

The Adidas x Parley concept is certainly a step in the right direction, but there are already brands who are creating fashion to purchase, using yarns made from plastic waste.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

G-Star RAW has recently revealed it’s third collaborative collection with Pharrell Williams which uses ocean plastic fibres mixed with other materials. The RAW for the Oceans collection features the tag line ‘turning the tide on plastic ocean pollution’ and features jumpers, t-shirts, jackets and jeans.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

It is reported that 700,000 PET bottles have been removed from the ocean to go into the production of the RAW for the oceans collections so far, which is not a considerable amount of plastic recovered. Again, a tiny fraction, but as the old saying goes – better out than in.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

But the most interesting element for us is the psychology that goes with these collections – by creating something from a waste material, there is a point you have to cross in customers’ minds – where does ‘rubbish’ end and ‘luxury’ begin? Big brands certainly have the scale and opportunity to create a real attitude change, and it is interesting to understand whether people purchase these goods because they are fashionable and ‘on trend’, or whether they purchase them because they are made from an ‘ethical’ material. Where does the buy in happen? Also, what happens to these garments when they reach the end of their life – have they been designed for circularity?

Something, we no doubt will explore…

(images via Dezeen)

*** REVIEW pt2 *** Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London…

In the first half of our review, we looked at the first half of the fantastic Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, which featured the Water Bar – complete with water sprites serving up flavour infused tap water and a retrospective of the multi-use water vessel itself. For the second half of this review we wander into the second half of the exhibition…

Until a few years ago, not many people had heard about the oceanic gyres, let alone be able to tell you how many there are and where they are situated. But when Captain Charles Moore crossed the North Pacific gyre in 1997 and discovered the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, the gyres – and marine litter became much more visible to the world.Project Ocean 9So, what exactly is a gyre? Simply put, a gyre is a combination of wind and ocean current movements which spiral around a large point – rather like a huge, slow, water bourne hurricane pattern. Marine litter inevitably ends up caught in these currents and is drawn into the centres of the gyres. And there are 5 gyres across the globe…

There are multiple research groups who regularly sail through and collect data from surface trawls on the amount of plastic in our oceans, and it is quite staggering how the concentration centres across the gyres. But – and this is key – the plastic that is discovered is not, as some would imagine, an island of large pieces of waste visible across to the horizon. It is much more dangerous than that.

The plastic (which breaks down due through sunlight exposure by photodegrading) ends up in smaller and smaller pieces, which end up being eaten by fish. Small fish eat small pieces, and if they survive, are eaten by larger fish and larger fish until they are the fish that we are served up as our healthy portions each week. That is a scary truth.

And so the second half of the Project Ocean project looks at this very issue, with an explanation of the gyres and a mock up of the Sea Dragon – one of the research vessels that trawls the ocean for plastic remnants.Project Ocean 8

This half of the exhibition also houses a collection of beautiful objects created from plastic ocean waste by the wonderful Studio Swine, who accompanied a research trip earlier this year.

After collecting the pieces of plastic, Studio Swine envisaged creating something new and precious from the waste – directly on the boat. Their ‘solar extruder’ was developed for just this purpose – concentrating the suns rays onto the plastic, which melts through the centre of the device and can be moulded at the end.

Project Ocean 7

The pieces on display were all created using this method, with each piece representing waste taken from each of the gyres. The whole process of their ‘gyrecraft’ was explained though a beautiful video too, which we have featured at the end of this post.

Moving towards the exit, we passed a large wall graphic which showed the timeline of our relationship with plastic, from it’s creation in the early twentieth century to the point in 1976 when plastic became the most used material in the world to where we are now. What is also sobering is the fact that every piece of plastic we have ever created (unless it has been incinerated) still exists.

Project Ocean 5

This, coupled with the fact that in 2013 alone, 299 million tonnes of plastic were created globally – and only 10% were recycled, begins to show the scale of the issue…Project Ocean 14

Sitting down with our reusable glass Project Ocean mugs filled with rosewater tinted tap water, we quietly pondered the exhibition. How can this be brought to the widest audience possible? How can we begin to create change? Even though there were precious few people in the Project Ocean area compared to those outside in the homewares concessions of the Selfridges basement, there were people here. People who will talk to people and spread the powerful stories.

Project Ocean 1

Well done to Selfridges for standing up, speaking out and pledging change. Let’s hope these actions spread further than the plastic ocean litter.

GYRECRAFT by Studio Swine…

Gyrecraft from Studio Swine on Vimeo.

(all photographic images by claire potter)

*** REVIEW pt1*** Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London…

As I have mentioned here before, in a childhood long long ago, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was fascinated by the sea – the abundance yet invisibility of the life. The variety and the scale of those underwater cities, filled me with wonder. Fast forward a few years, and even having decided that design and architecture was my calling, the childhood awe for our oceans never drifted away. This, coupled with the studio foundation in sustainable design is why the issue of marine litter – and particularly plastic waste holds such a concern for us. So – it was with delight that we found that this years Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London, was to focus on this very subject…

Project Ocean 13

It may seem quite odd for a huge department store, which of course, is based on our insatiable appetite for consumption to hold an exhibition of this kind. However, where better place to educate the masses of the issues at hand? By situating the exhibition in a side section of the homewares section in the basement we were optimistic that it would be rammed with people keen to learn more.

This, unfortunately, was not the case. 

Having battled through shoppers on an end-of-the-week spending binge, we entered the exhibition under a ceiling installation of single use water bottles and into a beautifully conceived, yet ghostly quiet space. It was a real shock.

Project Ocean 4

But this was but one of many shocks we discovered at the Project Ocean exhibition. The ceiling of the entrance featured an installation by How About Studio, constructed from 5,000 single use plastic water bottles diverted from the London waste stream – representing the amount of bottles used by the UK market every 15 seconds, which was staggering. Of course, not all of these single use bottles will end up in the ocean, but considering the recycling rates are so pitifuly low, it certainly puts the issue into perspective.

Project Ocean 12

Turning left into the space, we were greeted by a large poster featuring the most dangerous species in the ocean, from a cotton bud sea urchin to a plastic bag jellyfish, again with sobering data on how long plastic waste persists in the water, and the damage it creates.

Project Ocean 10

Project Ocean is split into two halves, with the Water Bar and the main Exhibition – we headed to the Water Bar area, which concentrates on Selfridges own commitments to the cause. The long, recycled glass bar is clean and modern in shades of nautical blue and white and is where the resident ‘water sprites’ dispense free water to visitors, tinted with herbs, essences and fresh fruit.

Project Ocean 11

Behind the bar is a small yet intriguing collection of water vessels from around the world – from clay pots to aluminium French cycling bottles – all reusable, which contrasted well with the abundance of single use water bottles hanging over our heads as we entered the space.

Alongside the Water Bar was a small collection of the vessels that can be purchased from Selfridges, from bpa free plastic bottles to elegant glass carafes and chunky glasses. We were delighted to see that these were sat on a chunk of recycled plastic from Smile Plastics, which not only gave a very relevant nod to the Project Ocean focus, but looked wonderful. This is something we are very keen to promote – as designers it is up to us to specify these types of recycled materials to encourage others to produce materials from ‘waste’.

Project Ocean 3

But the Selfridges commitment also involves the removal of all single use plastic water bottles from their cafes and food halls, and the installation of a public water fountain instead – encouraging people and providing a source for people to refill their own vessels. The water ‘tinting’ will only last for the duration of the Project Ocean exhibition (until early September), but this action will hopefully make people consider their choices…

Join us for Part two on 19th August where we enter the exhibition part of Project Ocean…

(all images by claire potter)

*** VISIT *** The Wood Store in Brighton has moved!

A little while ago, when it was announced that the Circus Street area was to be redeveloped, we were a little worried – where would The Wood Store, the fantastic resource of wood for reuse, go? For as long as we could remember, The Wood Store has called this little strip of central Brighton their home, and many a project has seen us heading to the store to find everything from cable reels to scaffold boards and old bits of pier decking. Where would the Wood Store go?

Fear not. As of last weekend, they are now fully moved and settled into their new home on the Preston Barracks site just up the road on the Lewes Road in Brighton. This is another site that has sat unloved in Brighton for many years and I personally remember looking out over onto the old army barracks from the top floor of Mithras House opposite, where I was studying Interior Architecture at the University of Sussex. As young vibrant things we often thought about the fantastic things the large open space and old buildings could become – and now the re-occupation of the space has started, with The Wood Store being one of the first on FIELD, the new development… (who we are also linked up with – watch this space!)

We trotted along on the opening day last weekend to say hello to everyone and have a bit of celebratory marmalade cake (which was marvellous) and check out their new home.

This new Wood Store is housed in one of the old territorial army buildings, and has a lovely large main room where all the wood is neatly stacked and organised – safe from the elements. For frequenters of the old site at Circus Street, this year round dryness will certainly be welcomed.

Old scaffold boards, bits of staircase, sheets of ply, old doors, bespoke furniture made from reclaimed wood – everything is still there, with the familiar faces also there – ready to lend a hand, offer advice and have a good old chat with.

So, do not despair – the Wood Store is alive and kicking – just a bit further north up the road in Brighton!

(images via The Wood Store)

Monday Musings – glyphosate and radical transparency…

It is becoming ever clearer that we really do not know what is actually in the things we use, wear or eat. Not a day appears to go by without a product, formula or chemical being revealed as being ‘possibly detrimental to human health’ (note the possible, and the limitations on ‘human’). We live in a world of complicated concoctions with often untraceable foundations. But, for many, ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know won’t harm you. Well, quite possibly it will.

dandelions

Glyphosate has long been outlawed by organic gardeners for the fierceness and obliterating chemical qualities it has on everything it comes into contact with, but a report issued this week from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has categorised the chemical as a ‘probable carcinogen’.

For some, this is no great surprise, but for many this has come as quite a shock, especially as retailers were quick to announce the removal of the products from their shelves. Given that glyphosate is the active ingredient in the majority of weedkillers, including Monsanto’s Roundup, it is far more common an ingredient than you may think, meaning that many gardeners and farmworkers are exposing themselves to the probable carcinogen each year.

So – will glyphosate be banned? Possibly not. There is (of course) a bit of an uproar from Monsanto (what a surprise), plus other European research groups have declared it safe for use, but this poses an interesting question. If there is some risk, is it worth it?

This same question is raised in ‘Ecological Intelligence – the coming age of radical transparency‘ by Daniel Goleman. An empowered consumer is one with the facts, so if there is risk, or a possibility of harm, that consumer may decide the risk is just not worth taking – even if the findings are disputed by others.

This is probably why the big box retailers acted so quickly and publicly when the report was issued on glypsophate. Even if there was the tiniest chance of risk, they certainly do not want to be seen to putting their customers in the firing line.

And what can we do, as the everyday consumer? Well, we can respond in the way that hits the brands the most. We switch brands and make it clear that we are not willing to take on the risk, however small. If we have a choice (and there are natural alternatives to weedkillers, like digging the blighters up), then we are in a position to affect a change. The safe and ethical brands will rise to the top and the Monsanto’s of the world will begin to sink.

Legislation is one thing, but for some, profits shout the loudest. Hit them where it hurts.

Weekend words – when life gives you cherry plums…

when life gives you cherry plums

(image and photography by claire potter)

SPOTTED – corrugated ceramic cups from Helen Rebecca Ceramics…

We love discovering new things – especially when they are right here on our doorstep, which is certainly true of the beautiful ceramics from Helen Rebecca Ceramics. Based in Brighton, the works are delicate, yet reminiscent of other vessels, most notably the throwaway takeaway cups that have come to be so ubiquitous in our society. 1 cup from the range of Corrugated and Cream cups

With the same corrugated exterior as the familiar paper cups, the ceramic cups are glazed in soft whites, browns and grey blues – hinting at their materiality. Creating a ceramic cup in the same form as a throwaway paper cup is certainly an interesting take on our throwaway culture generally, plus, the permanence of the pieces is an interesting reminder to the idea of reuse.

Another set of the ceramics that we fell in love with were these gorgeous ‘Win a fish’ cups’ – cast from polystyrene cups with a fairground style goldfish sitting at the bottom. Win a fish cup

The whiteness of these cups does not betray their polystyrene foundations – with the texture of the original cup visible on the new pieces. We love them – especially as the goldfish are also white.

Helen Rebecca Ceramics describes these pieces as ‘memorabilia from litter’, which is an interesting turn of phrase. As litter is something that is by it’s general nature, throw away, these pieces offer a bit of a reminder to the invisible permanence of litter itself. Throwing it ‘away’? Where exactly is ‘away’?

Pair of cups, porcelain take away cups

And with every piece of petrochemical based plastic that we have ever made STILL EXISTING somewhere on the earth, it is worth reminding ourselves – convenience for us is not convenience for another species.

But of course – the depth of the narrative of these beautiful ceramic pieces does not need to wheeled out every time you use them. You should use them, again and again, because they are gorgeous and you can.

Plus, they are rather affordable too – at between £10 – £12 per cup. That’s not that many takeaway coffees nowadays…

(images via Helen Rebecca Ceramics Etsy)