CPD project update – the Preston Circus Planter…

We have been working on this project for a little while now – a new external planter for the landscaped area outside the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton, and this week, we finally saw it jump out of our screens.

Preston Circus Pocket Square NEW SCHEME small

Based on the huge amount of converging lines that meet up in this part of Brighton, the new planter has been commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council to replace an old, defunct standard structure. The geometric shape that has emerged from the road lines on the plan has now been built locally from 20mm steel which will be galvanised for durability. The external faces are due to be clad in reclaimed decking from the Palace Pier in Brighton and are being bolted to the frame to ensure that each piece can be replaced if required.

Iron Designs planter image 2

The planting will be a selection of hardy perennial and the whole piece is set to be installed in the next month or so. We will keep you updated on the progress…

Green Gift Guide – day four – stuff for the home…

Today on day three of our Green Gift Guide, we are looking at nice stuff for the home and garden, which will eco up a space very nicely indeed – and some in very different ways than you may think…

1 – Eco Filament bulb by Urban Cottage Industries – Filament bulbs have been the go-to fitting for a few seasons now to create that popular industrial style interior, but despite looking great, they are certainly not great for energy efficiency. But, thankfully, there is now an option which combines the looks of old style filaments with the energy efficiency we should all be striving for. The Eco Filament by Urban Cottage Industries is A-rated and has a life of 25,000 hours, which equates to 11 years at 6 hours per day… fantastic. from £30.60 inc delivery

Caret lamp eco-filament E27

2 – Hessian covered lighting cable by Urban Cottage Industries – we are sticking with Urban Cottage Industries for the next of our green things for the house, and whilst many people would argue that lighting cable is not sexy, we would beg to differ. The shade gets all the attention, the bulb partly so, but the cable often gets forgotten… bring your lighting up to scratch with some of this brand new hessian covered lighting cable from Urban Cottage Industries – £4.80 per metre (order a bit more and give it a decorative loop we say)

Hessian Fabric Cable | Cloth Covered Wire | 3 Core Round

2 – Home Hack kit by Sugru – there is barely a day goes by when we do not mention Sugru and what we could do with it here in the studio. We have a tin of this wonder stuff in every colour possible in the studio and we use it on everything from in-house repairs to client projects. Sugru – the self setting silicon based rubber has grown into a community, with people posting their hacks and repairs online – proudly showing how they have fixed their stuff. And now Sugru has started a home hack kit, complete with other useful things which you can combine with the mouldable coloured Sugru such as magnets, bits of lego and tennis balls… we love this stuff. Perfect for a DIY enthusiast in your life. Or actually anyone. £17 plus shipping
Home Hacks Made Easy — The Kit

4 – seeds from The Garden House from What You Sow – The beautiful online store What you Sow has everything you would need for those with green fingers – from tools to twine, but it is the seeds from The Garden House, with their stunningly simple illustrations that we adore. With a variety of edibles and flowers to choose from, we say get a bundle of seeds, then also buy your giftee a lovely secondhand frame too, so they can frame up those great illustrations after planting. from 2.95 each plus shipping (final orders 18th Dec!)

Garden House Seeds at What You Sow

5 – recycled card light shades from Tabitha Bargh – possibly the most ‘obvious’ eco choice on our Green Gift Guide today, these lovely lampshades take recycled cardboard to a whole new level. Clean and precise, this is how sustainable materials can and should be used – perfect in any modern interior. In fact, we are looking at using these for a project we have got coming up in 2016… from £75 each

So – five eco ideas that may be a little different from your usual options for the home…

(images via associated brands)

Pecha Kucha Brighton – Volume 22 – Good Grub…

The Pecha Kucha format is something that has to be experienced. It is a quick fire set of presentations, usually formed around a theme, where the speakers are limited to 20 slides, with 20 seconds per slide. Each one flicks on automatically, so if you are behind in your talk, you are in trouble. This is a brilliantly entertaining way to learn something exciting in a concise way, and we are delighted to announce that we will be taking part in the next Pecha Kucha in Brighton.

Volume 22 of Pecha Kucha Brighton on 22nd November will be around the theme of ‘Good Grub’, with a great line up of speakers talking about food in a variety of ways, from typography to crochet. Claire will be speaking about Urban Foraging and the rewilding of the city and it’s inhabitants, based on our Edible City escapades.

Tickets are £15 (+ booking fee) and include a light dinner at Silo, the venue for the evening, and Silo founder Dougie McMaster will also be talking about the philosophy behind the project – which is incredible both in concept and practice.

But even though the event is just over a month away, tickets are selling like zero waste organic hot cakes, so if you fancy it, head to the Pecha Kucha Brighton site sooner rather than later!

(image via Pecha Kucha Brighton)

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.

*** EVENT *** Urban Foraging in Brighton – 2nd July 2015

Hooray! Only a couple of days to go until our next Urban Foraging event in Brighton and Hove! Starting at the Dyke Road Cafe, we will wind out way through the parks and streets of Brighton and Hove over two hours, identifying the fantastic things that are abundant and edible in our urban hedges. What can you use? When can you use it? How do you use it? We will cover all of this, plus the legal requirements that need to be taken into consideration when foraging…

cherry plum foraging

Join us for a bit of an educating walk, get reconnected with your urban environment and enjoy a bit of a foraged drink at the end.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday morning!  Click here to go to our Eventbrite page with all the details…

(image by claire potter design)

SPOTTED – the NURDkit by Alice Kettle…

In the last of our SPOTTED’s we are looking at a project that really caught our eyes and hearts at New Designers this year – the NURDkit by Alice Kettle, which educates people to the problems with nurdles.

 

So why did this catch our eye? Once upon a time, in a childhood far, far away, I wanted to be a marine biologist and spend my life studying sharks with a view to conserving their numbers and educating people to their true, non-killer personalities. Fast forward a few years, and marine conservation is still very high on our concern list as a studio. And one of the biggest concerns of ours is plastic. There is too much generally and too much is ending up in our seas and oceans.

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But, despite the images of deceased birds full of plastic, scenes of great oceanic gyres full of a plastic soup gradually degrading to particles that are eaten by fish and get into the food chain, many people do not know the true scale of the issues with plastic in our seas.

And although we can all spot the empty drinks bottles and spent lighters on the strand line of a beach, there is a particular type of plastic that we all see, but many of us do not recognise. The nurdle.

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But it is these tiny dots of raw material plastic that end up manufacturing the vast majority of the plastic products we consume globally.

We were immediately drawn to the work of Alice Kettle for these reasons – she has created a kit that allows people – and particularly children – to sieve out the tiny pieces of plastic (the nurdle) from the beach, safely remove them and even use them to create another NURDkit. A simple, yet elegant premise that aids to educate as well as creating something responsible.

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Speaking to Kettle, who was both passionate and highly knowledgeable on the subject, we could see clear similarities with one of our all time favourite projects – the Sea Chair by Studio Swine, which also seeks to reclaim plastic from the ocean, turning it into one off chairs. Whilst poetic in nature, both projects are seeking to educate about the overwhelming scale of the issue – much of which is unseen by the general public.

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We are passionate that these are the sorts of projects and products that we should be championing – one that deals with a real issue – in even the smallest of ways. If we demand these kinds of responsible products as consumers, more will be created.

Inside the NURDkit

However, given the scale of the issue, can well meaning projects such as the NURDkit really create change? It’s certainly a start. And starting is what we need.

We just hope that there will be more projects like Kettle’s at New Designers 2016.

(all images via Alice Kettle)

no public landscaping? just wheel one out…

There is so much that we missed when we were in Milan recently for the Salone del Mobile – and we are still discovering loads of exciting things that just skipped past without being seen… One such project is the rolling garden by the A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, which saw moveable gardens literally roll into Milan to create pop up areas of public landscaping.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, urban garden, Expo Gate Milano, Salone del Mobile, Why not in the garden?, urban garden, modular garden

Constructed from bases featuring old bike wheels, the colourful frameworks of ‘why not in the garden’ featured bench style seating and a variety of plants which could be simply and easily reconfigured into a range of configurations according to the need of the space.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, A4A Rivolta Savioni Studio, urban garden, Expo Gate Milano, Salone del Mobile, Why not in the garden?, urban garden, modular garden

Plus, majority of the plants were edible, which is one of our personal obsessions – bringing the edible back into the centre of public landscaping rather than the usual municipal planting suspects.

Click to enlarge image A4A_whynotinthegarden_07.jpg

The real success of this little pop up though is the incredible flexibility it brought to the centre of Milan, with people congregating in different ways according to the pattern the rolling gardens were laid out in.

We are gutted that we missed this one!

(images via Inhabitat)

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)

recycled plastic and LED light installation by Sarah Turner…

Bringing a bit of light into the depths of winter is a tradition that has long been part of human nature. The Yule log for instance, is one attempt to revive Mother Nature back into life and lighten the dark evenings. And lighting designer Sarah Turner has brought another tree to life with her recent installation for Nottingham’s annual Night Light event – with a string of recycled plastic and LED lights.

Adorning a bare magnolia tree in the grounds of St Mary’s church, the lights led from the path to the tree, with each shade being individually constructed from sandblasted, waste plastic bottles, hand cut into the shapes of the blooms. Turner also states that the installation takes what is essentially the waste of mankind to bring nature back to life in as naturalistic a form as possible.

As well as being beautifully poetic, the piece does talk about the impact that our waste has generally on the natural world – especially plastic, which, although recyclable, suffers from a relatively low recycling rate. It also ends up degrading into tiny pieces which find their way into the food chain, which is a huge biological concern. So, finding ways to reuse plastic can only be a good thing.

And if they are all as beautiful as the piece by Sarah Turner, so much the better.

(images by Sarah Turner)

what we are up to: FIELD Brighton…

We are delighted that we have been up to loads of interesting and exciting things already this year, and we can now announce the first… Back in January we were part of the first call for Brighton based makers for the forthcoming redevelopment of a long term derelict site in the city…FIELD brighton main page

So what exactly is FIELD? Well in the words of the developing team themselves (Cathedral Group – who are marvellous, and also working on the Circus Street redevelopment in Brighton)

‘We want to work with you; Brighton’s makers, creatives and innovators, to transform a corner of Brighton into something more than just a field. The possibilities are endless. A field of inquiry, of knowledge, of expertise, of endeavour. A playing field. A field of innovation.

Over the coming months we will be inviting you to hold events, exhibitions and providing opportunities for you to shape what FIELD should be.

You all have something in common: you make. We are inviting you to make FIELD your home for now and the future. Your activities will define what will in time become an exciting new community. The ideas generated by FIELD will inform, shape and deliver the future of the maker community at the gateway of the city of Brighton.’

This is exciting stuff. Many moons ago I gazed upon this long abandoned piece of land whilst doing my Interior Architecture degree on the top floor of the University of Brighton building opposite. It is huge – and has incredible scope…FIELD brighton profile page

And so we are delighted to be part of the start of this really exciting project with a load of other great makers – we will keep you posted of the developments and we are full of ideas… (NB – I don’t usually look this stern – we went for a ‘power gaze…’)

Check out the main FIELD Brighton website to see what the project is all about and get on the mailing list to be the first to hear about what is going on…

(thank you also to the great Dean Chalkley for my great photo and also to Studio Makgill for their art direction on the shoot!)

2014 recap – August – a Cor-ten steel fence…

Today on our recap we are back in August, where things were fine and warm and we were enjoying toasty days outside in our gardens. We found a rather nice fence for those gardens too…

first published August 2014…

Ok. We are bending the rules just a touch today with this fantastic image. Not strictly a wall, today’s post is all about a fence. Constructed from cor-ten steel, the fence has a beautiful rusted appearance and allows it to blend rather beautifully with its location whilst still being a modern take on a fence.corten steel

Designed by Mikyoung Kim, the fence mimics the patternation of the oak leaves which are found on the site of this private residence in Massachusetts. The use of the cor-ten steel means that the structure is still fully stable even with the rusted appearance and does not require any coatings or paint. Even though using a weathering steel such as cor-ten is not the cheapest of options for a project, there is little ongoing maintenance required for the material which is protected by the outer ‘rusted’ layer, which cuts down on both cost and time implications.

It also gives a very lovely shifting colouration which is hard to get in metal but often found in wood, allowing it to feel as natural as possible. It is quite an acquired taste however, with some feeling that cor-ten steel just looks like rusted steel (which of course, it is), but we think that it is a highly versatile material.

And there is nothing wrong with a little rust eh?

(image via landezine.com)

SPOTTED – picking our Christmas tree at Wilderness Wood…

We are suckers for a bit of tradition. Especially when it is a nice tradition – and really, we are heading full whack into one of the busiest times of year as far as tradition goes. We apologise in advance for using the C word in November, but hey. Christmas. Someone told me yesterday that there are only six weekends until Christmas. Six. Somehow that put the panic in a little bit, but we are safe in the knowledge that we have already bagged our tree. We went and reserved it at Wilderness Wood…wilderness wood 1

Some of you may know about our traditional trip up to the working wood, Wilderness Wood in Sussex – where every November (second weekend) we head up to get a tag, pay our £10 deposit and choose our tree in the Christmas tree plantation.

This year, was no different. We headed up on a sunny Sunday, boots at the ready, filled with excitement that was tinged with a little bit of apprehension. This was to be the first year that the wood was under new ownership after the Yarrow’s, who had founded the working wood in the 1970’s decided to retire. Would it be the same? Would the pots of tea be as huge, the cake so delicious and the atmosphere so friendly and welcoming?wilderness wood 2

Well, yes. We needn’t have worried. The barn was as packed as usual, the tea and the cake were both huge and delicious and the Christmas tree plantation was as we had expected.wilderness wood 3

With number 232 on our tag, there were lots of families and members who had reserved their trees before us, but there was still loads of selection available. Unfortunately, not the Douglas Fir that we have grown to love for its soft, fragrant, limey green needles, but still lots in the fir and spruce categories. Like the children in the plantation, we scooted up and down the hill, trying to find ‘the one’. There were a few contenders, but we eventually settled on one – a lovely Nordmann Fir – an excellent needle keeper, even when cut. Wilderness Wood has good Blue Spruces this year too, so if you are looking for one of these, ethically produced, then it is a good possibility.wilderness wood 4

Now, many of you will question whether driving to choose, then harvest a tree is perhaps the most ‘eco’ way to get a Christmas tree – and even if a real tree is perhaps the best choice. But we believe that this is not only about the tree, but the tradition of picking one – safe in the knowledge that it has been cared for in the right way. It is as ethical as possible. Plus, as we will compost the tree after, the tree becomes a biological nutrient for our own studio garden.

So. Full of tea, cake and with our tree reserved, we headed home. And we will go back in about a month and cut him down, bring him to the studio for Christmas. Ironically, we have named him Doug.

(go to the Wilderness Wood website for full details of their pick your own Christmas trees. all photos by claire potter)

first eco open houses tour weekend a success…

We have been a little bit quiet over here on the ecospot over the last week or so. There are many reasons for this – for one, we were having a bit of a major design overhaul (and we hope you like the new look!) and as well as having a digital redesign we were working in the physical too – trying to complete our new studio in time for the first Brighton and Hove Eco Open Houses tour weekend on 18th / 19th October. Long days, long nights and lots of goings on. But, we are nearly there on both respects, and it was with delight that we opened our doors to the public for the very first time on Sunday morning…

studio loo front

We are not completely there, but very nearly and there was loads of stuff that we could say about the project to explain to people where we had started from, where we were and where we will be when we open again on Saturday 25th.

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It was fantastic. We had put notes on a lot of the key areas of the rebuild and conversion from old public toilet to design studio and it was not long before our pen had nearly run out. From our Celotex insulation to locally sourced plants, recycled paint from REBORN paints to upcycled cabinets from local charity Emmaus, we spoke about a different side to the eco buildings in the city.

studio plants small

We do not have our solar panels on our roof yet, but our electricity is supplied by Ecotricity and we have used A+ appliances throughout and energy saving bulbs. Plants also feature heavily in the studio to not only create a nice environment but to act as air cleaners – removing the toxins which will be given out by our printer, computers and even as we breathe.

labels on the wall

And despite not being completely finished, we were delighted at the comments that people gave us when they visited. Some people had travelled specifically to see our studio, others were doing as many of the Eco Open Houses as possible and others were just walking along the road and happened upon us. All in all, we had just over 60 visitors, which we were most chuffed about.

reborn paints small

But, as soon as the last visitors had gone, the building materials were back in and we were back at the works, with the flooring, front door and tiling set to be finished off this week. I have the job of putting in the hanging planters that I was speaking to people about as well…

neon green flex. grey and copper

So – if you are about, pop by and say hello this weekend – we are at 201 Portland Road in Hove and will be open on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th between 10-1 and 2-5. And we can highly recommend the cafe along the road, Pelican on Portland for all things tasty, lovely and delicious.

(all photos by claire potter)

 

Wednesday walls – espalier apples, alliums and box…

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

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

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

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

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

(photos by claire potter)

 

SPOTTED – the London Design Festival Design Districts…

We are a bit late posting today, mostly due to the fact that we are in the thick of building our new studio (more of that next week), and last night we were up with our pals at Sugru, with our Fixperts hat on, fixing things alongside the Restart Project at Sugru’s Love Your Stuff Party. We fixed loads of things for people on the spot, but again – more of that next week… But as we travelled to and from the day at the London Design Festival, it became very apparent just how huge the event has grown. Excellent for variety and interest, but a real dilemma when it comes to planning. Even we skipped to the V&A, then up to Islington, then across to Hackney. But, there is one way to start to organise your trip – look at the Design Districts…

Now, each of these Design Districts has a very distinct feel, character and style, so if there is a particular type of design you are craving, it could be best place to start. Within each of these districts is a curated collection of showrooms, events, talks, workshops, exhibitions and displays, fitting to the area.

Last year we were part of the Brompton Design District (at the Brompton Pitch, with Fixperts) which had a lovely hands on, demonstration feel, with the cultural London Design Festival of the V&A at its heart. This year, there are diverse events such as Global Design Forum and a ‘meet the makers’ event with Brompton Bikes – where you are also able to customise your own bike, see it made and ride it home.

So, if you are a bit stuck as to where to start, choose a district in the London Design Festival, pick up a guide (loads available throughout, but we got ours at the V&A), and get going. Plan in cake too – design is exhausting.

(image via London Design Festival)