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)

the new Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium opens…

We are really lucky to live and work in Brighton. We have the sea on one side, the South Downs on the other and the city filling is a mass of creativity and inspiration with some fantastic individuals and organisations doing some brilliant work. One such example, and long standing friend of the studio is Emmaus Brighton and Hove.

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 4

Based in the former convent in the Portslade Old Village area of the city, Emmaus Brighton and Hove is the largest Emmaus community in the UK, functioning as a secondhand superstore, cafe, garden shop and so much more – with each former homeless companion living and working on the site in some capacity. It is helping hand – a family – and a wonderful place to visit.

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 5

We are always at Emmaus – finding pieces for our projects and clients in the vast rambling areas of the stores, having a cuppa or chatting with the staff and companions. So, it was with delight that we were invited to the special preview of the new Emmaus Emporium…

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 3

Situated in a newly refurbished part of the old convent laundry building, the Emporium is the destination for all the donated pieces which are a bit special – vintage, retro and antique. And the space is just fantastic.

The two main display pieces have been created by Simon Bottrell of 7 Creative, who has arranged the donated pieces of furniture in an incredible tower and wall piece of stacked tables, chests and shelves. With multiple display opportunities, the pale grey painted main ‘frames’ are able to accommodate the continually fluctuating donations whilst still remaining interesting and exciting – essential for any space. And the detailing is lovely – legs that appear to punch through tops of tables set below, items that float and even melt into the back wall…

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 2

Other display pieces use old ladders, repurposed counters and even a selection of upside down standard lamps – hanging from the centre of the space to give real impact to the room.

It is so fantastic to see the energy behind each of the projects that Emmaus Brighton and Hove creates – constantly staying one step ahead of what you would dream a ‘charity shop’ could be. The Emporium is the latest addition to the collection of shops at Emmaus Brighton and Hove – and a real feather in their secondhand caps.

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 1

Visit Emmaus Brighton and Hove’s website to find out more and how to get there… You will not be disappointed – we can guarantee that.

(image by claire potter design)

***new series*** Monday Makers – Frances Bradley…

We are very excited to be starting a BRAND new series on the blog today: Monday Makers. Every week we will feature a maker whose work we admire and ask them to shed a little light on their process, their products and what drives them.

Starting us on the series is the fantastic Frances Bradley, who we met at Clerkenwell Design Week this year…


showtable icon

Hi Frances – please tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m based in a small village just outside Northampton and have been making various things since 2011, though have only been designing as Frances Bradley for 2 years.

Initially, I started out working on a landfill site (I have an Environmental Degree) and started upcycling and making items out of some reclaimed wood as I hate unnecessary waste. It expanded from tables out of the cable reels from the nearby M1 widening to using more natural looking boards and now I design new objects rather than refurbish old ones.

I’ve carried the ideas of minimal waste and sustainable sourcing forward as an ethos for my designs and now spend a lot of time sourcing unusual natural live edge boards taken from local trees as a by-product of Northamptonshire’s tree surgeons, I like that each piece also comes with a story. I then start with the wood in front of me and design outwards from there to form material led design.

My curve bench is a good example of this; a single board of wood went into the workshop before the design was finalised on site. It was cut, mitred and the ends curved so the whole board looks bent with nearly zero wasteage (only a few shavings!).

What do you make?

Furiture and homewares using natural wood and a blend of traditional woodworking and contemporary materials.

What is your favourite piece/thing you create, and why?

Our resin tables; it’s taken two years, starting with infilling natural holes in boards and a few failures along the way to get to the final river design. Using modern materials in a contemporary piece initially looks a long way from sustainable design but actually it arose out of a desire to reduce waste.

The live edges of a board are usually cut off as they’re non uniform and hard to use, but it’s wasteful. So these edges are placed together and the gap filled with resin to create a solid useable table top. They’re also made from boards from a local sawmill, a two man band who buy local trees which have been cut down where the tree would otherwise be chipped and saw and dry them for useable timber-it’s a really quirky cottage industry and as a result, the individual tree that a table has come from can be pinpointed.

Resin river icon

 

What inspires you?

I’m a very visual person so I use both Pinterest ,  Instagram as mood boards for items and designers who inspire me. Sometimes though, it can simply be an interesting material such as Jesmonite (a chameleonic Gypsum based material usually used as a stone replacement) which I’m currently experimenting with to a find a new way of using the material in furniture.

What is your favourite place?

I was initially going to pick Cyprus where I spent my childhood, but actually where I live now just south of Northamptonshire though considered boring and non-descript by a lot of people is actually a really interesting place. It doesn’t have impressive mountains or beaches, but there are a quite a lot of lovely little known spots really close by; an ancient bluebell wood, beautiful reservoir and a few lesser known country houses, some ruins to explore and a lot of pretty rolling countryside.

It’s also well connected and quite easy to get to most places from here (e.g. London is only 50 mins) but there are also a lot of small businesses in the area so it’s possible to find someone to make nearly anything within a small radius.

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

Madatory reduction/reuse of plastics worldwide which requires developed countries to support developing countries and lead the way with new technologies.bench icon

What is your studio motto?

Material led design

Where can we see you next?

London Design Fair –at Tent London in September.



Thank you Frances – check out the studio website and Not on the High Street to see more and keep you eyes peeled for the next instalment in our new Monday Makers series. Next Monday. Of course.

(images courtesy of Frances Bradley)

Studio Loo is getting ready for the Artists Open Houses…

It’s that time of year again. May is possibly one of the busiest times in the studio for events, and this year, we are not only doing the Brighton Artist’s Open Houses and opening our Studio Loo to the public, we are also doing Clerkenwell Design Week too. No rest for the wicked as they say. And now we are in the thick of our set-up for the Artist’s Open Houses, we thought we would introduce you to our guest artists, designers and makers this year…

A3-A4 DE LA WARR V small

Linescapes were with us last year – with wonderful architectural prints of iconic buildings from Brighton and further afield, we will have a selection of prints and gifts at Studio Loo…

Keith Richards by Dave Friston

 

It is the first time fine artist Dave Friston is with us at Studio Loo, and we are really excited to be showing all four of his incredible Rolling Stones paintings, which use reclaimed pallets as their canvases. Prints will be available too..

Penelope Kenny is a huge favourite of the studio – with her exquisite screen prints of Darwinesque animal combinations. We’ll have a selection of prints from pocket money pieces to larger one-offs.

Ship Faced Tote Bag, Funny Tote, Drunk Tote Bag, Boat Tote, Canvas Shopper, Screenprinted Bag, Handprinted Cotton Shopper, Cute Tote Bag

Hello Dodo never fail to raise a smile with their brilliantly witty and bold prints and accessories. And this year, Hello Dodo will be launching a new range of prints at Studio Loo! Even we haven’t seen them yet! Come and check them out before they disappear.

Image of 'No Bulb in My Lamp: Selected Diary Sketches 2004-2014'

Local illustrator Peter James Field captures the delicacy and strangeness of life in a magical way. From cards to original prints and books, his is a world that needs to be explored…

Vintage Fabric Cushion With Woven Floral Stripe

Like reclaimed fabrics? You will love the work of Sue Milner, who is bringing a whole stack of one-off cushions to Studio Loo made from her extensive vintage fabric collection.

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Like many pieces of large furniture, pianos often suffer the fate of being discarded and left to rot. Mark Reeve rescues theses pianos, dismantles them and builds these wonderful creatures for his Piano Planetorium. Each one unique…

Brighton Beautiful Shoulder Tote Bag - Navy Linen & Ikea Print, Microscopic Bugs

Frances Derbyshire of Brighton Beautiful will also be showing a great selection of vintage fabric makes – in the form of bags and purses. Brilliant colours and fantastic prints and all unique pieces again.

Traditional Japanese wood block artist, Claire Cameron Smith will be showing her stunning prints in both colour and monochrome. Carved in cherry wood, come and see the detail in these gorgeous prints, which, due to the method of creation and the natural block, are all slightly different…

So – come along to Studio Loo at the Artists Open Houses for the next four weekends in May (7/8, 14/15, 21/22, 28/29) from 10-5 and have a look. Oh – there is cake too!

simple pleasures cupcakery

check out this page for full details! 

2015 recap – February – structural skin leather reuse…

Next up on our 2015 recap is our most popular February post, where we were talking about waste re-use in a very different way…

(first posted on 25th February 2015)

As designers we are faced with daily choices. How to design something – what it is made of and how we source the materials are key to understanding the impact of our designs. This is why we choose to work with as much ‘waste’ material as possible in our work and we are delighted to see examples of how other designers are tackling the same issues. The Structural Skin project by Spanish designer  Jorge Penadés is a great example of very alternative thinking.

Jorge Penadés-Structural-Skin-1

Leather working, whilst very traditional, is extremely wasteful and inefficient as a process, so Penades has created a new method for using the scraps of otherwise discarded leather. The pieces, after being shredded, are bound and compressed to produce a material that looks rather like a bar of nut studded chocolate, but can be used to create new products – like the examples from the capsule collection which features a clothes rail and side table.

Jorge Penadés-Structural-Skin-3

Due to the natural quality of the material, it features a whole range of colours and patternations, adding to the individual nature of each of the pieces.

This lovely video shows the process…

Structural Skin from Jorge Penadés on Vimeo.

A day at The Great Recovery, with Camira, Ella Doran and Urban Upholsterers…

Quite often, it is the things that go unnoticed that have the biggest impact. Take fire labels for instance. They are a small part of a chair, or sofa, yet without these little pieces of legislative fabric, the whole piece of furniture cannot be reused. And even though they do seem small, they are often cut off as they flap about under cushions. We like things neat, so the flappy bit goes – and many of us do not realise that this then consigns our furniture to landfill at the end of its life. This is the baton that The Great Recovery have taken up over the past year or so in their ‘Rearranging the Furniture’ project. What does a circular economy sofa look like?

The great recovery sofa 4

Starting with one such fire label-less sofa, four designers (Ella Doran, Xenia Mosely, Kirsty Ewing and Sarah Johnson) set out to rethink the sofa – initially by taking it apart, learning the differences in construction between a cheap and quality piece of furniture, then developing a fabric with Camira to cover the stripped back, refurbished frame – over the process of about a year.

And so, to celebrate the end of the project, The Great Recovery held a day as part of the London Design Festival, looking at the project and with demonstrations from the designers and practitioners who took part.

The great recovery sofa 3

Patrizia Sottile and Andrea Simonutti – of Urban Upholstery are no strangers to reuse, as their pieces use rescued frames which are brought back to life with traditional methods, and the first part of the session was dedicated to a demonstration of how to refurbish a sprung chair, which itself had been recovered for a new life.

The great recovery sofa 2

Springs were connected with string, meshed together in a pattern that will be both strong and flexible, then covered with hessian, stitched, then covered again with coconut fibres. This is a craft – hand created and little altered in centuries. And, as the Urban Upholsterers explained, allows a piece to be reused, recovered, refurbished and repaired – unlike the cheap and mass produced pieces that we can pick up from chain furniture stores. Cheap construction means that recovery and reuse is often impossible.

The great recovery sofa 1

We also got to see the recovered sofa from the ‘Rearranging the Furniture’ project up close – and as well as the beautiful exposed frame, the fabric was something to behold.

The great recovery sofa 5

Created by British fabric manufacturer, Camira, in collaboration with The Great Recovery, the ‘Survivor’ fabric was developed to use as much pre-consumer fabric waste as possible. The new weave, created with 30% recycled fibres, uses offcuts from the upholstery industry – recovered, shredded and woven into a new, tweed like fabric.

The great recovery sofa 6

And whilst 30% recycled yarn does not sound like a lot, it is actually quite groundbreaking. Each time a fabric is recycled, the yarn shortens, making it unusable in a new fabric – it literally is not strong enough. However, if it is mixed with some virgin yarns, a natural recycled fabric is possible. The Survivor fabric is just that – and will soon be available to specifiers.

On the day, we were able to use the beautiful fabric to create our own cushions, in any variety of the three colourways – blue, red, or violet. Plumping (excuse the pun) for blue and red, each of our cushions was stuffed with recycled (post-consumer) yarn and finished with more traditional skills – we each learnt the ‘invisible stitch’, allowing us to close our cushions with no stitching visible.The great recovery sofa 7

The day concluded with a round table discussion between many of the partners involved in The Great Recovery, with representatives from Suez recycling, Surrey Reuse network, Surrey County Council as well as the designers themselves. Quite often the discussion was around connections – how can we ensure that bulky waste, such as sofas are directed to those who need them / want them? How can we encourage reuse and of course, how can we ensure that these pieces are not consigned to landfill or incineration as they are no longer sporting their fire labels…?

More thought early on in the design process is often the answer, or at least part of the answer. And my cushion? It got its first test on the train back to Brighton from London Bridge, as surprisingly, there were no free seats. Lucky I’d just made one.

(images by claire potter)

The London Design Festival is in full swing – here are our picks…

We honestly do not know where the year has gone – was it really 12 months since we were up at the London Design Festival with Fixperts, running a workshop on fixing and hacking? It appears it was. However, apart from being a year older, the London Design Festival is a distinct highlight of our calendar – and it gets bigger each time. Whilst this is fantastic, the bigger the event, the more you have to pick and choose the events that you go to, so we are sharing our picks for this year with you all…

First up – we will be heading to LASSCO, to drool over the reclamation:

‘Pioneers of Architectural Salvage, LASSCO supply a virtually unending stream of recklessly curated objects and materials, aided by an unerring eye, impeccable provenance and profound practical knowledge.

Over the past year the shop has contributed architectural elements to some of London’s most exciting and on-trend retail and hospitality brands across London including: Aesop, Club Monaco, St John’s, Groucho, Ralph Lauren, Hostem, & China Exchange. This inspiring exhibition documents them and shows how our reclaimed materials are being incorporated into interior design today.’

19 – 27th Sept / 41 Maltby Street, Bermondsey / £free

Next we will be heading to Interface to see their Designing with Nature exhibition, which looks in detail at biomimicry:

‘Interface is a worldwide leader in the design and production of sustainable modular flooring, suitable for all commercial interiors. Interface products come in a range of colours, textures and patterns that combine beauty with functionality to help organisations bring their design vision to life.

The effect that nature can have on your well being is remarkable. Nature has long been a source of inspiration for Interface and has led to the production some of the most sustainable and innovative nature-inspired carpet tiles. We learn from nature’s systems and our designs take cues from visual and tactile textures, also found in nature, helping to bring the feeling of outside, in to create spaces which inspire, energise and engage individuals in the workplace.’

21 – 25th Sept / 1 Northburgh Street, Clerkenwell / £free

We are also heading off to the Ella Doran & The Great Recovery Material Engagement and the Art of Re-upholstery workshop too:

‘A day at Fab Lab London exploring the possibilities, challenges and rewards of re-upholstering old furniture to give it a new life through talks, hands-on demonstrations & the opportunity to talk to the participants of the Great Recovery’s design residency with SUEZ.

This event reflects and builds on the Great Recovery’s ‘bulky waste’ Design Residency in partnership with SUEZ Recycling and Recovery earlier in the year. Hackney duo Urban Upholstery and award-winning textile designer Ella Doran join the Great Recovery at Fab Lab London to explore how to reduce the quantity of furniture going to landfill through considered design approaches and practical re-upholstery techniques.’

25th Sept / Fab lab London, 1 Frederick’s Place / £free – but book places here

Last on our list is the launch of the Fairphone 2 – an ethical, modular, repairable smartphone:

‘Fairphone is a social enterprise that is building a movement for fairer electronics. By making a phone, we’re opening up the supply chain and creating new relationships between people and their products. We’re making a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing and life cycle, while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first. Together with our community, we’re changing the way products are made.

Come to Fairphone’s launch event, a pop-up space taking you behind-the-scenes of their latest phone – the Fairphone 2, designed with a fairer supply chain and advanced modular architecture. Discover what’s behind your phone: from mines in DR Congo to factories in China and e-waste dumps in Ghana.’

26 – 27th Sept / 2-4 Melior Place / £free

But with so much to do, check out the London Design Festival site – get exploring with design…

(images via LDF15)

the IKEA hacking trend continues…

Creativity comes in many forms, and sometimes it takes a lot to realise that you do not have to design and build everything from scratch. Utilising standard components that you can adjust, hack and amend to suit your exacting needs can often be a cost and time effective decision for a project. We have used this ‘off the peg’ plus ‘bespoke additions’ approach for projects where the budget is very tight with great success – and many other studios are doing the same. And IKEA – with it’s global uniformity and relatively simple modular designs are ripe for using as the bones of a large build.

Over the weekend we spotted this story on Dezeen, where the studio CHA:CAOL used standard IKEA products, such as kitchen cabinetry and wardrobe fittings to create the skeleton for an open plan apartment addition.

With storage integrated under stairs and a simple material palette, the apartment is unified and organised – two elements which sit well with the IKEA ethos.

Duarte-loft-office-by-CHA-COL_dezeen_468_6

This is sensible approach – using the readily available and reasonable components as the skeleton can allow you to be more creative with the facing materials, and allow a bit more of a budget to do so as well.

But this kind of hacking is pretty commonplace with individual pieces (as is seen on the IKEA Hackers website, where people show how they have amended pieces of furniture to suit their needs). It is becoming more of a common thing to do this in a design studio too, as more and more designers and architects utilise the utility nature of standardised IKEA pieces.

Another example of an IKEA hack is this temporary bar by Diogo Aguir and Teresa Otto, which was built from the very ubiquitous translucent plastic containers that are piled high in all stores.

So – IKEA hacking is here to stay – with designers and architects as much as it is with everyone else.

(images via Dezeen)

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.

ethical consumer 5

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?

ethical consumer 6

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.

ethical consumer 4

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…

ethical consumer 7

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)

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)

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 – a preview…

Clerkenwell Design Week is upon us once more – beginning today, the annual three day event in the part of London that has the densest population of creative studios, practices and showrooms, per square mile – in the world. Quite something. And each year, these doors are thrown open to all for three days of talks, exhibitions, workshops, launches and parties – for free.

We will be heading up to Clerkenwell on Thursday for a look about, plus we will be on the FIXPERTS stand in the Design Factory between 1-5 (come and say hello!) and then we are off to a very special workshop with the guys at Factorylux (Urban Cottage Industries) – more on that later on in the week, but for those of you not familiar with Clerkenwell, here are our top tips:

1 – Looking for furniture, lighting and product design? First stop has to be The Design Factory located in the Farmiloe Building on 34 St John Street. Not only is the building absolutely stunning (a real 19th century industrial beauty), the variety of work on show is staggering.

2 – want to see the hot off the press new designers in another architectural gem? Check out the House of Detention next, which features interlocking subterranean spaces filled with great design and furniture.

3 – Clerkenwell Conversations is another real highlight of the three day festival, with world class designers, architects and manufacturers – this year talking about everything from public art to the architects insatiable desire to create furniture (ahem). Take a look here for the full programme.

4 – there are multiple showrooms open too, where you can discuss projects directly with the manufacturers, or just have a nose. This year we will be heading to Camira, Interface, The SCIN Gallery and Vitra – for starters…

5 – check out the Fringe too – there are some great event on in the smaller workshops and studios…

And want to whet your appetite? Take a look here at this round up from last year.

(video via Clerkenwell Design Week)

Studio Loo is open for the Artists’ Open Houses in Brighton!

Yes – you may have heard us banging on about how we are open for the Artists’ Open Houses this May in Brighton, with our very special selection of design, graphics, illustration and homewares, but if you haven’t, we are open… why not pop along?

More details, map and stuff here…

AOH 2015

 

it’s #designmonth on Kickstarter – here are our top picks…

We love Kickstarter. Many a train journey has been spent trawling though the Design category looking at innovative new product and project developments, solving problems that we never knew existed and many that bug us too. We have also backed a few projects ourselves, including The Intrepid Camera, Clickerbelt and The Brand Deck.

And it was with delight that we found out that Kickstarter have launched #designmonth, spotlighting the very new and very interesting of design projects. Because, as we all know, design has the power to change the world in both little and large ways…

So – in celebration of the #designmonth, we have rounded up our pick of five of the best eco designs currently awaiting your backing on Kickstarter…

Thames Baths Lido – a natural floating lido on the River Thames, using filtered Thames water…

SolarPuff – a Unique Little Solar Light – flatpack, solar charged light using origami principles…

the Zero Waste Cap – a snap on adaptor to get the last of your lotion out of a bottle!

Indy Plush – Toys that Donate to Charity – representing animals that are endangered and giving back to help their preservation…

SNAP – design your own furniture – turn anything into a table or sideboard with these innovative snap on legs… (making re-use even easier)

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Get exploring people…

(all projects via Kickstarter)

rethinking the way we make things… Studio Swine

Yes. For those eagle eyed people out there – yes – the title of this post has been shamelessly ripped off from the subtitle of the marvellous ‘Cradle to Cradle’ manifesto by Braungart and McDonough. But it is something that we think about a great deal here in the studio. We are designers and makers of spaces, things and experiences – and we need to be fully aware of how we go about that. We continually rethink the way we make things. Because of this rather healthy obsession, we are really interested to see how other people are going about it too…

Now, we have featured the Sea Chair project by the great Studio Swine here on The Ecospot before and it remains firmly one of our very favourite projects of all time. It is elegant and beautiful and speaks very poetically about the waste that is affecting our oceans. But Studio Swine also created a project called Can City, which also deals with similar problems in a very similar way…

Can City by Studio Swine

It is an elegant project – perhaps not replicable in large scales, but with a bit of rethinking – why not? We have so much waste that not only creates problems of disposal, health and contamination, but also we need to realise that this is raw material and resources that are literally being wasted. This on a global scale is not sustainable at all, so this kind of rethinking and recovery are becoming absolutely imperative.

As designers, this is our responsibility to rethink the way we make things.