ECOSPOT REVIEW – the Serious Readers High Definition Floor Lamp…

There are a few things that we take seriously. Design. Coffee. Food. And books. We take our books very, very seriously, with barely a week going by without us purchasing at least two books for either our homes or the studio. There is just something rather wonderful about curling up of an evening with a mug of tea and a good book. Which is why we were delighted to be asked if we wanted to review the High Definition Floor Lamp from Serious Readers.

serious readers 2

Designed and manufactured in Buckinghamshire, UK, the Serious Readers range are described as the ‘Aston Martins of reading lamps’ and are available in a variety of sizes and finishes, from desk top to floor, nickel to brass – and in either halogen or LED options. They also provide an incredible definition of light which is incredibly close to daylight, even from a 35W halogen bulb which has a life expectancy of 4000 hours and featured in the option we had for review.

So, first up – the packaging. Ok. We know that not every product review you will see will have a section on the packaging, but to us it is actually very important. It is the first interaction you have with the product and can really set the tone for what you expect within. It can be the difference between having a great initial experience and a terrible one. Loads of those polystyrene wotsits? No thank you.

packaging serious readers

Fortunately, the packing for the Serious Readers High Definition Floor Lamp was excellent. All brown card with very minimal bubble wrap, the lamp is securely enclosed within the box (which also, very helpfully has handles), and each section is carefully numbered in the order you require it. No confusion.

We promptly unpacked the light, which requires no assembly at all, and fitted the optional diffuser lens over the bulb and had a play. The base is beautifully heavy which allows you to easily position the flexible arm section without the whole lamp moving about so it stays put – exactly where you want it. This is actually a big deal and allows you to create the optimum twist in the arm – easily.

serious readers 1

The head section is also adjustable, which allows the perfect angle of light to be achieved as well as the perfect height, but it is the dimmable light feature that we were particularly impressed with. The actual level of light each person requires for comfortable reading is very varied and alters as your eyes change, so the option of having this feature is absolutely fantastic.

For us, it also tipped the light from the functional to the decorative, as we found we were using the light for reading at the brighter levels then dimming it when not in functional use, so it acted as a feature light.

serious readers 4

But when we were using it, the clarity that the lamp produced was fantastic and we can completely see (no pun intended) why the range is recommended by eye care professionals.

The design is also very neat and minimal, with a very particular industrial leaning in the black finish we had, which we adored and allowed it to fit in very well with the mid-twentieth century furniture we had in the studio.

At £399 or so, the Serious Readers High Definition Floor Lamp is a serious piece of kit, but my goodness it is good. Fabulous, British made quality which is backed up with multi function useage.

A very, very nice lamp indeed.

(photos by claire potter design)

Wednesday walls – vintage upcycled prints by Roo Abrook

Regular visitors to The Ecospot will know the rather obsessive nature we have for all things re-made, reclaimed and upcycled. We also have a love for industrial interior design and steampunk styling – and these stunning prints by Roo Abrook tick all these boxes. And some.

Using antique book pages, Abrook produces beautiful, whimsical vintage upcycled prints which are individual and have fantastic character, perfect for the eclectic interior. The bright colours of the prints contrast fantastically with the natural aged quality of the paper and the prints have a really interesting combination of subjects…

“Inspiration comes from nature and wildlife and I have a huge love of butterflies and birds. I visit museums and always have my camera with me… just never know what you might find inspiring! I really enjoy drawing and produce studies and paintings which are then collaged into designs with original photography, these are made into prints using Antique book pages, my favourite at the moment is from 1860! I’m also a big collector of ephemera and antique books – I love the combination of something old and something new.”

Plus, with prints starting at only £10 each, these vintage upcycled prints are a very easy and unique way to inject a bit of character into your space… head to to see more…

(images courtesy of Roo Abrook)

the transforming table by Duffy London…

Space is one of the biggest issues when designing for our ever decreasing homes – plus the fact that we are not using our spaces in the same way as we used to in times past. Everyone sitting down together to eat has become a rarer event, which has made a lot of us rethink whether a ‘dining table’ is a necessary requirement on the furniture list.

This is why space saving – and transforming – furniture has increased, with lots of designers tackling the issues to create innovative new pieces that have multiple functions or compact functions, like this transforming table.

The MK1 Transforming Table by Duffy London has to be one of the better examples we have seen of late. With clean lines, beautiful construction methods and simple, responsible materials, the piece can be expanded and contracted from a low coffee table to a standard sized table with ease. And by one person.

Available in a variety of finishes, we have a love for the dual white and wood version, which has a nice mid century nod.

At £795, the MK1 Transforming Table is not cheap, but – it is a hand crafted piece of furniture that is responsibly created. And it does the job of two pieces of furniture, so it is not bad at all.

(image via Duffy London)

wednesday walls – the new Peggy wallpaper by Mini Moderns

For the first Wednesday Walls of 2014 we are very pleased to be featuring a new wallpaper from the lovely peeps at Mini Moderns, and one of the new designs from the Hinterland range.

The new ‘Peggy’ wallpaper is inspired by the pegboard wallcoverings so often seen in the humble junk shops and hardware stores of old and features a lovely smattering of dots.

Image of Peggy Wallpaper - Snow

The white and black ‘snow’ colourway above is one of our favourites, but we are also in love with the sagey green colourway – ‘british lichen’ below.

Image of Peggy Wallpaper - British Lichen

Plus, as well as being rather tasty in design, the beautifully minimal wallpaper is printed with water based inks on sustainable paper, in the UK. Brilliant.

And at £45 a roll, it is not going to break the bank either. We LOVE it.

(images via mini moderns)

2014 trends – steampunk goes a little more mainstream

This week on the Ecospot we are continuing our look at the trends which, according to those in the know, will be hitting our shops, magazines and lives in 2014. Last week we posted our prediction that grey will continue to grow in popularity over the next twelve months and become the go to neutral for designers – over and above white. Today we are looking at another trend prediction for 2014 that has us in equal rapture – that steampunk will go a little more mainstream.

steampunk interior

Steampunk styling is a very eclectic mash-up indeed – a bit of Victoriana, a bit industrial, a little bit hard to define because of its myriad ingredients. Part Sherlock, Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. In design it manifests within separate objects, or in the feel of an entire space. It is a mysterious beast, but when you recognise the signs, steampunk design is starting to be everywhere. 

The increase in industrial styled retail spaces, with our beloved dark grey walls, exposed metal piping, raw materials and cut glass lighting? Steampunk. 

The distressed leather fashion – jackets and bags that Indiana Jones would be proud to sport. Buckle detailing. Steampunk. 

steampunk interior

The rise has been growing for a few years, but it was the opening ceremony to the London 2012 Paralympics that cemented Steampunk styling as the aesthetic voice of an eclectic and innovative Britain, with roots in the past but eyes on the future. And we showed it to the world with pride.

Etsy is now awash with steampunk, recycled designs for jewellery, whilst our shops continue to be bedecked with fit outs that Jules Verne would be proud of, all antlers, metal and odd reclaimed pieces. So – how will this effect our lives in 2014?

Well, the idea of ‘eclectic interiors’ and design is fast becoming the norm as we all scour the markets and antique shops for ‘the piece’ that will take our homes from the normal to the ‘interesting’. Whether this is a wire locker from a factory in the north, a French butchers block or a set of framed, Victorian butterflies (and we have been asked to source all these items by clients), our desire for the individual and unusual has meant that retailers are starting to offer these pieces – new – for all to enjoy, without the early morning car book scuffles, haggling and astonishing pain when you see someone walking triumphantly in the opposite direction with your ‘thing’. Probably bagged for a fiver.

steampunk interior

A recent trip along a regular High Street showed curtains with faux mail bag details, prints of old maps, illuminated globes and lights with glass bases fashioned to look like port bottles from the 1800′s.

We have spotted paper crafted, framed bugs and beetles, fabric antlers and pre-aged leather seats. Overtly oversized clocks with static cogs on display, industrial storage bins created not for a cotton mill but for a kitchen near you. All available now – for a reasonable price and brand spanking new.

And this is why Steampunk will continue to rise as a trend in 2014. It is not that we have suddenly all started to read Journey to the Centre of the Earth and covet motorcycle goggles - it is because it is edging into the High Street – slowly and subtly, but there. For all.

So. Are we upset in our prediction that steampunk is going more mainstream? No. Not at all. It will certainly bring about an interesting change to off the peg interiors and hopefully encourage others to be a little braver with their styling, both in their homes and on their bods.

It could just mean that the early morning scraps at the car boot fairs will get a little busier, so we’re off to practice our sprint techniques in readiness. See you at the start line and let the hunt begin…

(images by claire potter)

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)

design wish list day 11 – a year of pants – Who Made Your Pants?

Getting underwear is a pretty standard thing for a lot of us at this time of the year, but as we are very discerning folk, we do not just want any old pants. Oh no. We want beautiful, ethical pants, made by people who care. Fortunately, there is the fabulous Who Made Your Pants?, based in Southampton.


ShockerBasically, Who Made Your Pants? create ‘amazing pants by amazing women’ – using fabrics that are left over at the end of the season from other lingerie companies, all made with care by women who have had a pretty rough time in their lives. They are given training and a safe place to work with scope for development. A wonderful company indeed.

But as well as having fabulous ethics, Who Made Your Pants? also create the most fabulous pants. Pants that you would love to receive and wear. They are beautiful and they are obscenely comfortable too – in glorious colours and none of the dreaded VPL. They are packaged with care and you even get to know the name of the person who made your pants. We love them.

Something Blue

Brilliant Black





So – if you are looking for a gift of pants this year, take a look. And looking for a gift that keeps giving past the season? Sign your giftee up to the subscription package of a year of pants, when a special package will arrive each month, with a new pair of pants.

Yes please. 

Get in there quick to order before their shut down!

(images from Who Made Your Pants)

december design wish list day 10 – the SpeakaBoo bamboo iphone speaker

Day 10 on our December design wish list and we have found a very lovely one indeed – the very eco friendly, bamboo iphone speaker – the SpeakaBoo.

Bamboo speaker for iPhone 4/4s/5/5s/5c.

With the hollow sections of the bamboo, the sound is naturally amplified along the length of the tube, with no need for any electronic assistance. The SpeakaBoo is also designed to allow an iPhone to be plugged in for charging whilst playing.

We love the natural qualities of this bamboo iphone speaker – the ‘leopard’ bamboo creates beautiful, natural patterns and the simplicity of the design is truly wonderful.

Plus, at £28 or so, they will not break the bank for a present for the eco, yet technologically aware person on your list. But, get in there quick – last posting is on 20th December from their Etsy shop…

(image via Bamboo style)

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)