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)

*** PREVIEW *** Brighton Fashion Week 2015…

With multiple retailers pushing the next ‘key look’ on an almost daily basis, fashion might not be the first industry that screams sustainability. In fact, ‘fast fashion’ is perhaps the antithesis of sustainability – with an enormous amount of virgin raw materials used and seemingly worthless human labour hidden away behind the cracked walls of many an intensive factory. Exploitation, not ethical design. But fashion can get a bad rap. The values of some are certainly not the values of many, and as consumers, we have a large part to play too. Fortunately, there are many designers who think that sustainable design is not a trend, but the way the industry should be moving – with ethics across the board from materials to workers rights. And Brighton Fashion Week 2015 is spearheading the future. Running from 15th – 17th October this year, Brighton Fashion Week features a range of events, from the standard catwalk shows to clothes hacking / reuse workshops and debates on the issues key to the fashion industry. Each event has the inner vein of sustainable design, proving that fashion and sustainability are not, at all mutually exclusive. This is essential to communicate to not only the industry itself, but to all of us. We all wear clothes, after all…

‘Not all purchasers of fashion understand the impacts of what they choose to buy. Brighton Fashion Week will tell the story of waste people create from their fast fashion shopping fix contrasting this with sustainable fashion practices and the need for fair wages.’‘We have started to increase consumer awareness around the social and environmental impact of clothing through our events, social media and press coverage over the past two years and wish this to increase further. We now have decided to bring criteria around sustainability in fashion into ALL aspects of the event (the three main catwalk shows) as we feel this is an essential step that the fashion industry needs to take.’

We are delighted – and very excited to announce that we will be covering many of the fantastic events that are being held for Brighton Fashion Week 2015 here on The Ecospot, so stay tuned to our reports from the week.

The schedule for the week is great – click here for full details of all the shows, events and workshops. We are really looking forward to the debates, which have a stellar line-up of speakers from the extended fashion industry, as well as resource efficiency experts from WRAP.  Some events are ticketed, but some are free – especially the hands on ‘Love your clothes’ and ‘Fashion Salvage’ demonstrations were you can learn how to reuse an old garment and watch designers working with the tonne of clothes in the central space of The Open Market. This will certainly be a sight to behold…

Check out the Brighton Fashion Week 2015 website for full details of all the events and the designers taking part in this unique fashion event… see you there.

(images courtesy of Brighton Fashion Week)


September window – the Lorax makes an appearance at Studio Loo…

Since we moved to our new home, Studio Loo, which we converted from an old public wc building last year, we have loved having windows out onto the street. We get to see the toing and froing along Portland Road in Hove, wave at familiar faces we see walk past and be part of street life. What is also great is that we now have three windows that face onto the road – allowing us to indulge our creativity every few weeks or so. And at the moment, we have the Lorax.

the lorax window

Like some of our projects, our current window came about after a collection of things were sourced or discovered – and brought together under a theme. We inherited a blow up globe, then found an executive black and grey globe in a local charity shop for £5. Claire then found a stack of Wallpaper city guides in the local Oxfam bookshop.

ethical consumer 7

We decided to hang the inflatable globe. Then the black one sat underneath as the ‘future’. It was too low, so the colourful guides were added – listing cities around the world – we are all in this together. Nice composition, but it needed a written message – what did we want to say?

As fans of Dr Seuss in general, quotes from the fantastical series have found it onto the window more than once, but for this one, we needed a clear, snappy environmental message that could be read in the time it takes someone to walk past Studio Loo (about 6 or so seconds). We needed the Lorax – the 1971 tale of a creature who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler.

‘unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. it’s not.’ 

It worked. Plus, as we are next to a junior school, this is the message we need to spreading to young and old. What is delightful is that we have seen adults explaining it to kids. Or sometimes just kids taking photos of it. It’s brilliant.

However, this does put a bit of pressure on for the next one…ah.

(images by claire potter design)

Zero Waste Week – Silo Brighton…

Continuing our look at zero waste for zero waste week, today we are featuring one of our favourite places in Brighton. Silo, which opened in the North Laine area of the city earlier this year is heralded as a ‘pre-industrial food system’ which, as well as producing beautiful and delicious food, also produces zero waste.

Now, for a restaurant to declare that its is ‘zero waste’ is a huge achievement, but as founder of Silo, Doug McMaster points out – if you design and create ‘backwards’ – ie with the bin in mind, you can begin to eliminate waste before it has been produced, rather than dealing with it at the end. This is effective and clever.

Silo demonstrate that by working with producers directly, you can choose items that have been produced locally, in reusable / returnable vessels that continue to be in the loop once the contents have been used at the restaurant.

silo brighton 2

But reducing the packaging that you use is one thing. The largest, and most pressing waste produced from a restaurant is the food waste itself. Scraps, peelings, left overs – where does all this go? At Silo, they have Big Bertha – a composting machine that sits just inside the entrance to the side of the restaurant and converts everything into compost and liquid feed in an astonishingly short amount of time.

The 50-60kg of compost it produces overnight is distributed back to the growers that they get their raw goods from – literally closing the loop. As you enter the restaurant, one shelf is filled with boxes from the Espresso Mushroom Company, happily sprouting their brown and pink oyster mushrooms from the mix of recycled compost and locally sourced coffee grounds in the cool shade.

silo brighton 3

But it is not just the food that is zero waste at Silo – the pastries that greet you are served on multicoloured discs of plastic – melted plastic bags that have found a new use and the interior itself is a delight of the industrial aesthetic with reclaimed wood seating and reclaimed flooring used as tables.

There is a distinct honesty to everything at Silo. The kitchen is open at one end, the flour is milled in another corner of the open plan space (although not when service is on as it is pretty noisy) and the jugs of water are filled with the visible offcuts of herbs from the kitchen. You drink the water from jam jars and lovely ceramic mugs, obviously.

silo brighton 1

Many people have baulked at the idea of a zero waste restaurant, confining it to the very ‘green orientated creatives’ that live in Brighton, but whilst Silo wears a lot of it’s ethics on it’s sleeve (and rightly so), it also does it rather quietly. There is no massive signage declaring how it is holier than thou. Ask one of the staff and they will enthusiastically explain the systems – even Big Bertha – but there is no ramming of information down your throats, even though this is the system that many more restaurants could be (and should be) employing.

Go to Silo for the delicious food – and realise how zero waste in the food industry is possible.

(images by claire potter design and silo)

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

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…

*** 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)

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)

*** 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)

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.

ethical consumer 3

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.

ethical consumer 2

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…)

our latest Urban Foraging Walk is now live!

We have been pretty busy on the foraging front this year – mostly running foraging walks for other lovely people in the city, but we have had so many people ask us whether we are running any more, we are!

cherry plum foraging

Up now are full details of our Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on 2nd August… Ever wondered what you walk past each day which you could add into to your daily diet? Ever wondered what this whole urban foraging thing is about, where it has come from and what you can actually do with that random looking leaf? Well, during our 2 hour intro walk, we will help guide you through the laws and pitfalls of foraging and help you identify up to 20 things that are abundant and actually rather delicious in the city. Finishing off with a little drink at the end, this introductory foraging walk through the parks and streets of Brighton will give you a taster of what you are missing…

The walk is £10 per person (with kids free) and you can book through our Eventbrite page…

We look forward to seeing you!

(image by claire potter)