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)

SPOTTED – London Design Festival – stamping with Present and Correct…

For the next two weeks on SPOTTED we are looking at some of the great stuff that is going on for the London Design Festival this year and picking out a few that catch our eye. Today we are channelling our inner stationery geeks with Present and Correct

If you are yet to discover Present and Correct, well, you are in for a treat. If you love all things stationery (from graph sheets to old erasers), vintage (like 1960’s paperclips, boxed), or utilitarian (perhaps unused ticket stubs from France), then this is the place for you. With an eclectic collection that drives us wild, the stock at Present and Correct is constantly changing, with a good balance of both new and very old items waiting to be discovered.

But, for the London Design Festival, Present and Correct are having an open studio and encouraging visitors to get stamp happy over new and old ephemera. The stamps are not of the decorative cardmaking style though – oh no – these are graphic, bold and have a nod to the vintage, almost letterpress styles…

We have our eyes on lots of stuff from Present and Correct for our own studio (and stationery collection *ahem*) and we can’t wait to do a bit of stamping. See you there…

(image via London Design Festival)


weekend colour inspiration – ball fairy lights from Cable and Cotton…

Today on Weekend Colour Inspiration we have something a little different for you. Usually we have an inspirational image, scheme or colour combination that can be used and interpreted in your own way, regardless of what sort of space you have, but today, we are looking at a product that can bring a real smattering of colour – in a completely customisable way. The coloured fairy light sets from fellow Brightonian company Cable and Cotton are just fantastic. They are bright, you can be creative with combinations and they are made ethically by craftswomen in Thailand. Three ticks.

cable and cotton mojito 1

Available in different lengths (20, 32, or 50 lights), Cable and Cotton also offer two different versions of their lights – a pick your own, where you can choose your own combination from the 47 different round, handmade cotton shades, or one of 13 pre-selected colour sets – chosen by the team at Cable and Cotton in complimentary colours.

We plumped for the Mojito (no judging please, but it is Friday…), which is a gorgeous mix of Oatmeal, Ivory and Pale Grey with a bright injection of Turquoise and Anais Green – a lovely combination of some of our favourite colours.

cable and cotton mojito 2

The lights were very well packaged and very simple to put together – just simply tease open the cut slot in each of the handmade cotton balls and push in a fairy light. A small rubber grommet holds the light in place and within minutes we had the string completed in the studio.

Well, we say minutes, but of course, this was only the first combination of colours. As the cotton balls can be placed wherever you like on the string, we went though a few iterations until we plumped on the final sequence. Which we changed again when we put it up…

cable and cotton mojito 3

The cable on the Cable and Cotton lights was plenty long enough to wind happily around our old antlers, and being transparent, blended into the pale wall quite well. The colours also picked up the colours in both paintings that sit around the antlers, which worked perfectly.

cable and cotton mojito 4

But as well as creating a delightful bauble style effect when switched off, the lights really come into their own when they are switched on at night.

The antlers were transformed into a festooned centrepiece for the studio – bright and cheery in the dark stairwell. They were fun and made us smile.

cable and cotton mojito 5

And this is the lovely thing about the lights from Cable and Cotton – they are fun. Choose your colours (warning – this could take a while), or choose one of the brilliant colour sets to suit your own style, stick up up somewhere obvious and have a smile.

We put ours on the stairs, but what about a hallway or entranceway? In a nursery? Around a room for a party or event… there are as many possibilities as there are colour combinations available. Plus, you can swap the coloured cotton balls about a bit, as you can also buy replacements, in sets of 5…

So, as the Cable and Cotton box says, Get Creative.

(photos by claire potter, lights courtesy of Cable and Cotton)

monday musings – the contextual narrative of the Jerwood…

Sometimes it is good to do things on the spur of the moment, and yesterday was one such day. The sun was shining – the last hurrah of summer – and so with nothing else planned, a trip was hatched to visit Hastings, and specifically, the Jerwood Gallery which had an exhibition by Quentin Blake – a personal childhood hero.hastings Jerwood 6Even though I had not visited Hastings for a very long while, I remember far back in the depths of my architecture education when I became obsessed with the tall, pitched roofed net houses on the Rock-O-Nore road. There was something about the honesty of their construction, both in terms of orientation, structure and materials that made them incredibly appealing. Like stretched sentinels they stand over the Old Town beach, with the fishing boats and fresh fish huts below. I loved them.

hastings Jerwood 4So when I found out a while back that the Jerwood would stand within touching distance of my beloved net huts I was a little wary. Without a deep connection to this site, the new building could stick out like a very modern and very sore thumb. However, when I saw the resulting building on the pages of architecture blogs and the design press in 2012 I was delighted. The building looked sensitive yet unapologetic and well, fitted.

hastings Jerwood 7But – architecture is something that you experience, not read about. A well composed photograph will tell you so much, but it is not until you are in any space that youdiscover the delights of the building as well as areas which perhaps do not work as well. Noise, smell, light, how the building copes with few people, masses of people. How the building feels in its skin and its surroundings.

I was not disappointed. HAT have created a delightful building. Passing the fading ‘No Jerwood’ signs on Rock-O-Nore Road towards the gallery, it felt a little sad that a few of the local residents felt this way – and enough to keep the signs up well after the gallery’s opening.

hastings Jerwood 2

The immediate appearance blends beautifully with the surrounding net huts – the monolithic building is certainly wider, but being clad in black shimmering iridescent tiles both the literal cues and the poetic cues to the fishing buildings and heritage are apparent.

Hastings Jerwood 1And the building is exceedingly clever. It is always a personal marker of a great building when I become obsessed with the structure and details perhaps a little more than the objects that the building contains. Details and junctions between flooring, the slatted walls looking up towards the rooflights, the cor-ten steel signage, the oak handrails that already feel polished, the shadows cast across the concrete floors…

hastings Jerwood 3But, one of the areas that I was most impressed with was how the building dealt with its location. The net huts surrounding the building are not hidden. They suddenly appear, framed within floor to ceiling windows in galleries – so much so that their height and scale can be fully appreciated in a way that is not possible at ground level. The building at the top of the East cliff lift is also framed and celebrated too, along with the low timber clad fresh fish huts at the rear of the Jerwood.

hastings jerwood 5Even in the courtyard area, the net huts sit nicely above the lowered fence line and talk to the oily Jerwood tiles beside beautifully. Like distant cousins, but with a similar family trait. Pitched rooflights on the top of the Jerwood also mimic the roof lines of the huts, creating another line woven in the contextural success of the building.

The art, is of course, wonderful. Interesting, well displayed and beautifully lit. But for me, the building is the real stunner.

(Photos by claire potter)

Weekend colour inspiration – a vintage mini…

Today on weekend colour inspiration we have a fantastic vintage mini advert, which screams 1978. But, the blue and the yellow that features in this advert is actually quite a nice combination - go for mustard yellow and a pale sky blue and you have a colour combination not out of place in the 1950's...

Today on weekend colour inspiration we have a fantastic vintage mini advert, which screams 1978. But, the blue and the yellow that features in this advert is actually quite a nice combination – go for mustard yellow and a pale sky blue and you have a colour combination not out of place in the 1950’s…

SPOTTED – The Butterfly Project at Kings Framers, Lewes…

Last weekend we had to travel over to Lewes to pick up a few bits for the new studio, so took the time to have a bit of a wander around. We always head to Kings Framers as they invariably have a lovely shop window to tempt us with prints, but we were very pleasantly surprised when we discovered The Butterfly Project by local artist Jamie White.

the Butterfly Project

The whole of the front window had been transformed into a gallery of framed butterflies, moths and beetles – all beautifully set in white mounts and frames to best show off their incredible colours and forms, including my personal favourite, our native Elephant Hawkmoth.

the butterfly project

Now, framed butterflies do tend to divide people – is is a celebration of their beauty, or is it macabre and sad? A lot of these judgements are based around where the specimens are sourced (and at what point in the life cycle), but The Butterfly Project is certainly different – each of the bugs and butterflies were sourced from non-profit breeding programmes which supports research into habitat protection and ecology through localised education programmes.

the butterfly project

No endangered species from the wild was collected, and the sales of The Butterfly Project going towards helping the survival and conservation of the species in both the UK and farther afield.

So, the beautiful results of The Butterfly Project area not only stunning, they are as ethical as you can get for a real specimen.

(photos by claire potter)

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)