Monday musings – new products on show at the University of Sussex…

As well as running the cpd studio, I also do a bit of tutoring, lecturing and critiquing up at the University of Sussex within the School of Engineering and Informatics, where I am very proud to be a school associate. Mostly, I teach on the BSc Product Design course, which had a very early, but fantastic final year show last week.

design 14 2

The standard, and the range of projects was wonderful, from a new concept in sandwich packaging that can help to create a city wide edible planted landscape to a modular toaster that can be taken completely to pieces for repair.

muro 1

Another project looked at how a marine fish tank could be redesigned to be both easier to look after and more energy efficient, whilst other student designers showed products with integrated solar charging to power lighting or interfaces.

design 14

One student has invented a new type of recycling bin designed to reduce the noise generated from glass bottles – especially important in inner city areas where the communal bins are located close to homes.

But the winner of our own ‘cpd eco design award 2014′ (a bunch of Urban Cottage Industries bits and bobs) went to a project that I just adored. Maxim Grew has created a new camera, based on the original large format models with accordion style bellows of the past. The new model, the Intrepid Camera is not only gorgeous to look at and relatively easy to use, Max is planning on the design becoming the foundation of a new DIY movement where you actually download the CAD files and get the pieces to build your own camera cut out. So, the survival of a key piece of historic photographic kit, with little waste and the satisfaction of a hand built product that creates beautiful pictures? wonderful…

camera 1

It was excellent to see the standard of design thinking that the students at the University of Sussex presented – and I look forward to seeing it all again at New Designers soon…

(photos by claire potter)

*** you can also keep up to date with all the University of Sussex School of Engineering and Informatics activities at the school blog –

SPOTTED – the first sweet violets of the year. Get foraging…

So. It appears that spring has sprung. For a bit anyway. With the sudden sun, the ground has started to warm up and both the plants and weeds alike are showing a burst of life. There is a reason that we get rather excited about this – the sun starts the main bulk of the foraging season and one of the first plants that you can find are out and about now. Sweet violets, or viola odorata.

sweet violets

We are very lucky as near our studio we have a huge bank of violets within a tiny walking distance – and the thing is, we are based not in the country, but slap bang on the edges of Brighton.

There is a bit of a misconception that foraging can only occur if you are in the wilds of the countryside, or at least near to the edges of the urban sprawl. In fact, it is often harder to find stuff within a close vicinity of the next, with the city and town environment providing far richer pickings. This is why we are starting to lead Edible City foraging walks in and around Brighton (email us for details).


But, back to the sweet violet. These are now in full bloom and should be available near you now. As well as the arresting violet colour, they are accompanied by a strong and arresting perfume. Smaller than the violas that you get in the garden centre, these beautiful plants reside on sunny banks, often in huge numbers.

As with all foraging – be respectful, don’t ever pick any more than you need, ask permission and never dig anything up. But a few flowers to scatter on a chocolate cake or to perfume a canister of sugar will add a wealth of the incredible sweet violet flavour to your baking… think a wholly natural parma violet sweet and you are there..

(photos by claire potter)

weekend colour inspiration – dark blue mapped beauty…

Even though we are fans of the industrial aesthetic in design, we are not adverse to a spot of colour – particularly if it is rather bold, and we are working on a current interior project in Brighton which is very bold with the colour indeed.

dark blue wall

The painting is still being completed, but we thought for today’s weekend colour inspiration, we would show you a little snippet of the hallway…

Painted the fantastic Drawing Room Blue by Farrow and Ball, the walls are dark without being too gloomy and provide a great foil for the silver and brightly coloured, oversized wall map by the Future Mapping Company.

The rest of the apartment will also feature these dark elements with bright pickups, including neon fabric cable and recycled sari rugs…

to be continued as they say...

(photo by claire potter)

beautifully graphic neon…

There are a few colours that we tend to err towards when we are working in interiors, and this is rather true of lots of designers. We also have our favourite plants we use in landscapes and our favourite fonts we use in our correspondence and branding work. As a lot of you will know, we have a particular affinity with the dark greys of the world, but there are points when even dark grey could do with a pop. Step in neon.

neon cushions 1

Brights and neons are pretty big this season – paired with lovely graphic prints they offer a great addition to a dark and moody interior. 

These great cushions feature both the colour and the print – and we spotted them whilst on a sourcing trip in Brighton, shining out of the window of one of our favourite local design stores, Edited.

neon cushions 3

Available now from around £36 each, the cushions would sit very nicely on a dark grey sofa, or even a battered old black leather chesterfield perhaps? Now that’s an idea…

Check out the range at Edited online here.

(all photos by claire potter)

a lovely picture from us to you on valentines day…

Today, for 14th February – Valentines Day, we have a lovely picture for you. We took it whilst on a sourcing trip in Brighton for client and all of a sudden it was there, as a lovely bit of neon in a window and a reflection of the buildings opposite…


So there we are, a gift from us to you on Valentines Day.

A little bit of love from Brighton.

Happy weekend everyone.

2013 recap – November – foraging in the city…

Nearly at the end of our 2013 recap now, so we are posting over the weekend as a special, bunper edition of the Ecospot (and so we can start afresh with goodies next week). Lots of you are probably aware that as well as spacial design and products we are involved in landscape design – with a bit of an obsession with city foraging…

A  few weeks go, I did a talk at Brighton Pecha Kucha 2013 – all about the personal mapping that can grow around the act of foraging, and especially urban foraging. We all have our personal maps of our bus routes, places we love to shop, drink coffee etc, but these tend to stay static throughout the year. If you start to see the opportunity around you within your city – linking into the free, seasonal food that is around you, then that personal map can be enriched.

And now you can see the video of the slides and my talk here…the Edible City

After the talk (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I was approached by two lovely German journalists and bloggers, Dirk and Susanne, who were interested in the whole urban foraging experience.

Could I take them foraging in our beautiful city of Brighton and Hove? Sure I could.


And they did a little video about our trip too, which you can see here… (oh, and we were foraging, not foresting – a bit got lost in translation I think!)

Overall, a lovely little pairing of urban foraging activities. And stay tuned for our very special speedy spiced wild apple cider recipe later this week…

(photo by Dirk and Susanne of push:reset)

2013 recap – October – creating new from old, if copyright lets us…

October now on our 2013 recap and we are looking at one of our favourite talks fron the wonderful TEDx Brighton – all about creating new fron old – and whether copyright law actually lets us…

One of my most favourite talks at TEDx Brighton last week was by Chris Evans-Roberts from Ithaca Audio - a Brighton based music production company which specialises in the remixing of audio and visual clips to create new, mashup styled content. This appeals not only to my creative brain, but also to my contemporary classical musical brain – the two of which occasional have outings together along a similar sampling / mashup way.

Using a short 2 bar clip from the Shaft theme, Evans-Roberts demonstrated how similar the musical structure was to a section of the Imperial Theme from Star Wars by (personal hero) John Williams.

Very similar indeed. They fitted.

So you can overlay each one, with a few others and create something entirely new – from a mound of carefully collected, curated and clipped samples. (for the geeks out there, my favourite at present is the pounding string section in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and the main theme to Jaws. Pretty much identical. Note to self – will have to do something with this)

Add into the mix the video clips and a live mash up performance and you have got a real performance, based on the (previous) work of others.

But, due to copyright law, is this allowed? Is it a perfect example of the creative recycling of audio and visual, or is it theft? We are so used to creating pieces that we share immediately with everyone that we are growing to expect that sharing is allowed. Sharing feels encouraged, but can we create new pieces from this shared content and how does the law fit in?

Evans-Roberts demonstrated the frustrations with standard copyright laws, which are so hugely complicated that there is not often one answer.

But could that be changed? With Creative Commons licensing, creators can choose to allow people to use – and build on – their work. You can encourage people to develop it.

And why is this really exciting? Because it shows a new way of thinking about the generation of content, and new content in that. And whilst this stretches to audio, visual content, could it stretch further in the future? Could we put design – in the widest sense – into the realms of CC licencing? Could this be the foundation that a flood of open source thinking can spring from with design?

It is a fascinating area indeed, and one that we think will really influence the design sphere…

(video by Ithaca Audio)

2013 recap – May – the stunning leather craft of Wolfram Lohr

May means a few things in Brighton – the Brighton Festival, the Festival Fringe and of course, the Artists Open Houses. We thoroughly enjoy wandering around the Open Houses each year, finding a raft of new, wonderful artists and designers to use in our projects. And every now and again we find something that catches our eye for ourselves too…

Even before the recent surge in the old fashioned satchel, we had a very soft spot for old leather suitcases, doctors bags and monogrammed military issue shoulder bags. There is a sense of history with a leather piece - marks and scratches showing the passing of time and a map of where the item and the owner/s have been. Leather pieces also last a very long time, so are great for diverting away from landfill in the sustainability sense.

So we are always very interested to see how designers and makers take this very traditional craft into a modern setting. We were delighted when we found the beautiful bags, belts and accessories from Brighton based Wolfram Lohr at the Brighton Artists Open Houses.

The Post Mistress shoulder bag.

It was one of those moments when you see something, fall instantly in love with it, then instantly fall in love with the piece next door. And the piece next door to that.

The range of leather pieces by Wolfram Lohr follow a very utilitarian style, with beautifully simple and traditional shapes being updated with a very modern combination of colours and tiny details, such as contrasting threads and pencil loops within bags. Plus, most of the hides used within the leather work are vegetable tanned, eliminating the nasty chemicals commonly used in the process.

They really are a delight to behold. 

Plus, if you do not have the funds to stretch to one of the gorgeous post style bags (from around £100 – £580 for the laptop bag) there is a great range of accessories finished to the same impeccable detail, such as the mobile phone sleeve for only £28.

The pieces by Wolfram Lohr are a wonderful example of true craft, produced by hand and with care for a contemporary user.

See Wolfram Lohr at 3 Florence Road, Brighton as part of the Brighton Open Houses, or at the boutiques website.

(images via Wolfram Lohr)

december design wish list day 9 – super manatee by Woah There Pickle

Today on our wish list we are continuing with another brilliant, Brighton based designer – the fabulous printer Vicky Day, aka Woah There Pickle. With loads of whimsical prints to choose from, Woah There Pickle has a great selection of funny pieces, but it was the comical Super Manatee print that caught our eye…

Super Manatee Comic Book Animal Linocut

Created using lino printing, the piece has a lovely conic book feel – plus being printed on lovely grey paper (our favourite colour), it would be a great addition to a kids room.

It is also part of a four piece set within the theme of super hero animals, so you could also choose from the Green Bantam, Spider Monkey, or our other favourite, Bat bat.

Batbat Comic Book Animals Linocut

At £15 each, they are also a very reasonable buy for a piece of handcrafted print, which is exactly why it is on our december design wish list.

Get in there quick for last minute Christmas gifts – check out the Woah There Pickle etsy shop for this plus other lovely pieces…

(images via Woah there Pickle)

december design wish list day 8 – the T-rex necklace by Designosaur

We have a bit of a thing for dinosaurs here in the office. We have a few dotted about on desks and such and I have at least three pieces of jewellery with dinos on in one form or another. But, as the famous saying goes, you can never have enough dinosaur necklaces. Or something. So, for our design wish list day 8 we are selecting the fabulous and Brighton based T-Rex necklace by Designosaur.

Now this is one serious piece of statement jewellery. Not for the faint hearted.

Available in a variety of finishes, the T-Rex necklace is laser cut and engraved in mirrored acrylic, or cherry wood – as above, which is our personal favourite. Skeletons and dinosaurs. Oh yes please.

At £25 or so, it is also very reasonable for a piece of hand created, statement jewellery indeed.

Not into Dinosaurs? Well, what about an architectural twist with their Brighton Pavilion necklace?

Get both the necklaces, plus other lovely bits here at their Etsy shop, DesignosaurYEAH