weekend colour inspiration – neon and grey trainers…

For today’s weekend colour inspiration we are looking very close to home – namely, with my new trainers – a bright vision in neon and grey.

neon and grey trainers

We know that these are not going to be to everyone’s taste, but my goodness we love them. These are the Nike ID version of the Free Run +2′s, which basically means that they are made to your exacting colour specifications throughout. As the only trainers that have really suited my feet for running, these were the ones I needed, but when it came to choosing the colours… well, that took a long time to decide.

But, really, the reasoning that I applied to designing these shoes followed the same logic as we do when we are designing anything in the studio.

First of all, what has the least amount of options, colour wise? For the trainers it was the bases, so I chose the bright neon yellow option. For an interior, this could be the colour of a key piece that needs integrating, such as a sofa or piece of art.

Then, I chose the background colour – which, in all honestly was never going to be any colour apart from grey. This helped to calm down the base and provide a neutral backdrop for the highlight colours above. Think of this like a wall colour – something ‘grounding’ for your space.

Next, came the highlight colours above, so the blue and the green were added. These work well with the yellow neon and grey and add a bit of interest to the shoe. Without the blue, it could have all got a bit disco, so it is supporting the yellow without vying for attention – vital for a secondary colour. Think of the blue and grey as your room highlights, so accessories, throws, even a rug.

Last up were the final details such as the swoosh and laces – which are finished in the neon yellow to unify the base with the rest of the shoe. Think accessories again. The (cjp) on the tongue were a personal touch – this could be something you have made for your space or even something that you have attached a memory to, such as a print, or piece of art. Something that is yours alone.

So – there we have it. How designing a pair of neon and grey trainers follows the same logic as designing a space…

(photo by claire potter)

Wednesday walls – Silver Pines wallpaper by Little Greene…

Today on Wednesday Walls we have an absolutely beautiful wallpaper indeed, which is not only stunningly delicate, it has a lovely masculine edge too. The Silver Pines wallpaper by Little Greene is quite wonderful…

silver pines wallpaper

Part of the Oriental Wallpaper collection, Silver Pines is joined in the mix by two other colourways, Blue Pines and Golden Pines – the pattern to all having been drawn as an abstract from a 19th Century silk Kimono.

Close up, it certainly does look like pines, however, at a distance, the fluffy plumed tops of the trees feel rather like clouds. The Silver colouration feels like a moody sky too, adding to the atmosphere of the pattern.

Plus, as well as being rather beautiful, the Silver Pines wallpaper, and all the wallpapers of Little Greene are either FSC or PEFC registered and printed with non toxic pigments.

For a feature wall that requires that hard to achieve mix of both masculine and feminine, you could be hard pushed to find a paper as beautiful as the Silver Pines wallpaper.

(image via Little Greene)

Monday musings – women in engineering…

There are not many programmes that we get rather obsessed with here at the Ecospot, but there have been a few absolute crackers on of late – some excellent design and engineering offerings, just like the ‘Men who made us spend’ series on BBC 2 recently and of course, ‘The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway’ that followed the construction of the new Crossrail underground link in London.

An engineering feat, the series (which has now finished on BBC 2) looked at the incredible preparation, technology and people that are making this project a reality, including some of the 10,000 or so engineers that make up the project teams.

But, of those 10,000, there was a very small amount of female engineers on screen. To be expected perhaps, but why? Why are we expecting engineers to only be male? The programme did a good job in addressing this issue, by featuring a few of the females who are employed in the project, from interns to project managers. Interestingly, a third of all the project managers in the Crossrail project are female – which is excellent, but it does beg the question – why were we expecting it to perhaps be less? Why are there so little women in engineering?

Perhaps because architecture and engineering are close in their male dominated spectrums, we have found that even though females are certainly occupying more of the roles in both areas they are usually in the minority. But why is that? Is it because of the toys that we played with as children? Do we all have to play with construction toys to get interested in construction and engineering?

Personally, I think it is more of an attitude when we get into our school years – and often the attitude of those guiding and teaching us. Kids will all play with everything and surely it is their environment that allows, or denies a growth of interest in any subject. As a child I was encouraged to build stuff if I wanted to – catapults, go-karts, bike ramps (with often disastrous consequences), but equally, I learnt how to sew and bake at a very early age. Both perhaps very stereotypically ‘gender orientated’ activity areas, but the key was, I was encouraged to do it all. Surely we should all be encouraged to discover our passion regardless of our gender – and notably that there is nothing that should ever be gender based.

If we encourage girls to build things – and that there is nothing wrong with being a woman in construction, engineering and technology perhaps we will get somewhere, which is exactly what the STEMettes are doing and their tag line says it all – ‘we’re showing the next generation that girls do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths too’.

But, here are a few words from a few of the great female engineers that are working on the Crossrail project – and what it really means to be one of the few women in engineering…


wednesday walls – a beautiful Wide World Magazine print…

Today on Wednesday Walls we are doing a little bit of bragging about something rather lovely we spotted last week – a whole stack of beautiful 1950′s Wide World magazines which have the most fantastic illustrations on the front. With their incredible stories, gorgeous graphics and soft colours we instantly fell in love with them.

wide world magazine

So, we had to have them. But, what do you do with a stack of stunning yet rather useless vintage magazines? You frame them up of course.

Finished properly, in the right frame, right style and right colours, these sorts of pieces of paper can go from the useless to the highly decorative. It was the graphics that first attracted us to the pile of magazines, so why not celebrate the illustrations in the best possible way and enjoy them on your wall, all the time? If you find a lovely vintage comic or magazine, frame it up.

Now, the illustration of this Wide World magazine from the 50′s we just adore, so it will be staying in the studio, but there are a whole load of complete magazines that we are currently framing up for our studio shop, so keep your eyes peeled…

(photo by claire potter)

SPOTTED – structures in Arundel Castle Gardens…

Last week we had a very rare day off to visit Arundel Castle for the medieval tournament (which was fantastic) but as well as watching the most magnificent jousting and sword fighting, we also had a very lovely tour of the gardens. We have already spoken about the inspired allium and lavender planting combination that we spotted in the cutting garden, but today we are looking at a few of the structure in the Arundel Castle Gardens

First up is this wonderful green oak arch / walkway that features in the Collector Earl’s Garden, which is beautifully simple, yet also a very accomplished piece of timber structuring.

arundel castle gardens 1

Framing views, the archway and dome provide both focal points and a touch of shade in the otherwise exposed Italianate styled garden. This is a key top tip for spaces of any size – if the eye sees everything at once then a space can feel uninteresting or even a great deal smaller than it actually is. By framing views and breaking up the expanse you create increased interest in any space, whilst also having the opportunity to direct a focus in any direction you choose, such as towards a sculpture or even the view beyond.

arundel castle gardens 4

The timber structures in the space continued with a quite incredible wooden folly, decorated with antlers.

arundel castle gardens 6

And also the fantastic Oberon’s Palace, which featured fountains and sculptures and was surrounded with large terracotta pots filled with cool coloured Agapanthus.

arundel castle gardens 5

But the structures continued into the cutting and edible gardens too, with the imposing green oak arched walkway being reflected in an apple archway, which not only provided a productive architectural element to the second part of the gardens but visually tied these very different spaces together.

arundel castle gardens 2

Covered with (we think) Ashmead’s Kernel, the apple archway also allowed framed views of the historical buildings of Arundel…

arundel castle gardens 3

The Arundel Castle Gardens are all accessible within the entry level ticket and, in our opinion, are one of the huge highlights. There is a stunning amount of variety, and at this time of the year, they are also abundant with flowers and fruits. Plus, the Head Gardener and team are out and about – and were very pleased to impart their knowledge of the space and the gardens to the visitors. We were even given a small bunch of sweet peas.

A wonderful gem of an attraction in Sussex – the Arundel Castle Gardens are beautiful, slightly bonkers and varied. Which in our book is quite a winning combination.

(photos by claire potter)


monday musings – Natwest Venus Awards Brighton and Sussex…

Ok. We are doing a little bit of trumpet blowing today. Last week, on a blisteringly hot day in Brighton, we went to the Grand for afternoon tea with the Natwest Venus Awards for Brighton and Sussex. We were delighted that we had been nominated for the awards in the Green Business category and even more delighted that we had made it to the semi-finals of these very prestigious awards.

Natwest Venus Awards 2

We met a raft of other, very inspirational women who work across a variety of sectors and we were shocked and very humbled when we were announced a Finalist in our Green Business category, with the winner being revealed at a red carpet event in October, also at the Grand hotel in Brighton.

Natwest Venus Awards 1

It is absolutely wonderful to be recognised in this way for the work that we do in eco design and we are ecstatic to be finalists in the Natwest Venus Awards, but ultimately we wish that eco design and green business was not segmented at all and it was just the way that everyone went about their business – with ethics and care for the implications their actions have.

It can be harder, it can take longer, but ultimately we think this is just the way it should be done, or to quote one of our lovely clients and fellow Natwest Venus Awards Finalists, hiSbe – it’s just how it Should be.

(photo by claire potter)

wednesday walls – hidden features of architecture…

There is something rather magical about discovering something which has been hidden for a period of time. As Interior Architects, we have an incredible excitement when we start a new project with a client – discovering things about a space and weaving it into the new story. What was the building used for before? Are there any original features that we can work with? What is the character of the space? As we work a great deal in the industrial aesthetic of interior architecture and design we believe that finding these hidden features are essential to creating a rich experience. So we are always fascinated with the story.

Arundel window

And whist out and about yesterday (yes, the studio is on leave this week, but we had to publish this today) we spotted this rather fantastic example of a discovery of the old beneath the new.

Situated on Arundel High Street, the building in question was undergoing a series of renovations to both the interior and the exterior façade, but it was a particular panel that caught our eye.

Opened up for all to see, the rendered front wall had been stripped back – not as a solid wall but as a boarded false façade, revealing a timber structure below and beyond – a beautiful, original flint wall.

It is always amazing to think that these sorts of original details have been covered over, but remember – architecture goes in an out of fashion too and there was probably a point in time when the flint was not desired. It could also have been failing and leaking (or collapsing onto the street below), so covering it over with a second façade could have been the quickest and cheapest option.

We found a little window in one project we worked on that had been boarded up from the inside, but uncovered and refurbished it added precious light to the bathroom area.

But even though the Arundel example is an old building, dating probably around 1650 or so, do not forget that even ‘modern’ buildings can have little features and quirks that are waiting to be rediscovered… hidden features are everywhere – just do a bit of investigation…

(photos by claire potter)

weekend colour inspiration – pink and grey


Today on weekend colour inspiration we are looking at yet another colour combination that includes grey, but we are mixing it up a bit today with a bit of pink. Now, we are not well known for our love of pink. At all. But, in the right context and with the right tones, you could do something rather wonderful.

pink and grey fishNow, this rather lovely fellow is a Red Gurnard – which we caught just off the coast in Brighton last week. And what a handsome fellow he is too – check out those pinky orange tones, plus the blue green in the eye which are echoed in the fins (which you can just see).

Combine these pinky tones with the steely grey of the bucket and you have got a really interesting pairing which has a good balance of the urban industrial and a touch of femininity. With a contrasting pick up tone of the blue or green and you have got a very, very interesting set of colours to play with.

Take this into an exterior scheme with galvanised steel planters, silver foliage and pink / blue flowers, or perhaps a steely bedstead with a shell pink and orange spread and a bright blue lighting cable… Pink and grey with a touch of blue…

Nothing fishy about that combo. (sorry)

(photo by claire potter)


a few of the newest New Designers…

Today on the Ecospot we are taking a bit of a look at the second part of New Designers that we visited last week up at the Business Design Centre in London. Packed to the rafters with the best new blood of the next generation, New Designers is the culmination of years of hard graft for designers across a multitude of disciplines.

We were there firstly to support the lovely designers who we have had the pleasure of tutoring and lecturing over the past year or so (and who graduated yesterday!), but we were also there to spot the latest new and exciting things from the other universities. So, we have chosen a very small selection to share with you today.

First up is the lovely re-imagining of the beehive by Daniel Leaker, which has been designed as an educational tool for schools. Based around natural beekeeping methodology, the new hive is also made from 100% recycled materials, including recycled plastic and reused cardboard postal tubes that have been impregnated with a beeswax and linseed oil solution.


It is also on a pulley system to allow children to view the hive safely, then allowing it to be hoisted back up into its permanent location, such as within a tree. A lovely project – check out Daniel’s site for full details on the manufacture of the project.

We also were quite taken with the ‘Brace’ seating and shelving system by Douglas Pulman, who also won the New Designers 100% Design Award. With its simplicity of form and materials, we thought it was a lovely winner.

Douglas Pulman shelf


The system can be flat packed with ease and is also flexible, so can be altered into seating. We do love a bit of galvanised metal and wood, so we thought it was a very worthy winner.

Last up, we are heading into the graphics and illustration department, where we fell in love with the illustrations of fellow south coast resident Jenna Clarke.

We really liked the illustration of Jenna – it was full and varied and showed a real illustrative skill, as well as a recognition of wider world issues. Check out her full portfolio here.

So – just a few picks from New Designers – we will have another couple next week…

SPOTTED – the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft

Last week we trotted up to the rather beautiful village of Ditchling, which sits on the northern side of the South Downs just above Brighton to attend a lecture by Simon Garfield about type. As well as looking forward to the lecture, we were also itching to see the buildings of the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft.ditchling museum of art and craft

We were certainly not disappointed. The architecture was absolutely beautiful with the Grade II listed cart house and original building being stunningly connected with a new addition by Adam Richards Architects. A really sensitive adaptation of the existing in an honest way, using traditional materials has resulted in a space that is not only contemporary in feel but one which also feels very much in respect of both its location and heritage.

ditchling museum of art and craft

Exposed rafters in the cart house, which acts as the entrance, shop and cafe show the original structure of the building beautifully, plus the numbered tour of the elements are a clear and minimal way to engage visitors with the architecture.

ditchling museum of art and craft

The exhibits and collections at the museum are rooted with the artists who are connected with Ditchling, plus there is a substantial type influence, as Eric Gill, the designer of the Gill Sans typeface was a resident of the village. All signage throughout the museum is in the typeface, with both lettering and symbols used to great effect.

ditchling museum of art and craft

There is also a significant amount of both lettering and print based exhibits from all ages, all displayed with sensitivity in a variety of interesting ways.

ditchling museum of art and craft

The Ditchling Museum of Art and Crafts is not a huge affair, but it is bursting with clever architecture, character and heritage, not to mention wonderfully enthusiastic staff and fantastically stocked shop.

Plus, the museum is currently a finalist for the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2014

A must visit for print and architecture junkies alike. Which we are both.

(photos by claire potter)