FAVILLA – to every light a voice – an innovative lighting installation by Ford and Attilo Stocchi

There have been many points in my life when I have wished that I spoke another language properly – mostly to make travelling easier on the embarrassment stakes, but sometimes because by not understanding, you realise that you are missing out on something quite special. And so it was when we saw a press preview of the Ford lighting installation, Favilla (to every light a voice) at the Salone del Mobile this year, which was formed of two, interlinked experiences.

FAVILLA external 2

The exterior installation was special, with a ghostly model of the new Ford GT being brought alive by all manner of projections, renderings and effects – many of which are used within the design stages of car production, with a great soundtrack to match.

FAVILLA external 1

Running for a couple of minutes, the GT was mesmerising with its changing skins of colour and pattern.

FAVILLA external 3

But, it was the internal installation, based in the same, black box structure that really stole the show for us. ‘FAVILLA – to every light a voice’ showcased the science of light and was curated by architect Attillo Stocchi in collaboration with Ford, examining and highlighting the way light moves in an immersive experience.

Waiting outside, we heard small rumblings of the installation and were soon gathered into the space – 27 of us – each standing on a small, white, numbered spot on the floor.

Plunged into darkness, a beautifully deep Italian voice began the narration as sections of the geometric internal panels were lit in shades of white, changing into forest patterns – perfectly supported by a stunning musical score. Patterns changed to soft light, clouds to fire and spotlights to fragmented light through the crystal which hung silently in the centre of the space.

FAVILLA internal

This was easily one of the most beautiful installations we had ever experienced, despite not understanding any of the narration, which is where the regret was felt. How much more powerful would the installation have been if we had understood? It was already incredibly moving, and after reading the English translation, perhaps even more so.

FAVILLA internal 1

As architecture fanatics, the structure itself was also a real statement, with the solidness of the black box exterior contrasting hugely with the Milanese buildings around, but the interior was particularly successful. The geometric forms of the panels in the building enveloped you in light and projections – making you feel like you were standing in the centre of a gemstone. It was both enclosing and spacious – plus, the decision to only let 27 or so people in at any one time meant that you had room to look around you and experience the whole installation.

FAVILLA internal 2

“A successful design requires more than pleasing aesthetics – it needs to connect with consumers, speak to their aspirations and pleasantly surprise them,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s Vice President of Design. “This installation takes visitors through an unexpected discovery process that perfectly reflects Ford’s philosophy that design is an emotional journey orchestrated around the customer.”

And this is exactly what the piece was. Truly beautiful and emotional- even when you don’t understand Italian…

See below for a behind the scenes view of FAVILLA…

(Photos by claire potter, video courtesy of Ford)

The 14 parts of the Crowd Economy…

We are back after a very nice spring break – where we spent a lot of time sorting out the landscapes in our lives, drinking tea and buying more books from Emmaus and Oxfam in Brighton – and there was a common theme to many discussions we had. The power of the crowd and how this fits with the role of design in the circular economy. In particular, we were talking about whether this new bunch of terminology is actually the same thing in different ways..

Fortunately, we happened upon this marvellous graphic by Sean Moffitt on Crowd Sourcing Week which outlines some of the top 14 sectors that encompass the Crown Economy…

The 14 Parts of the Crowd Economy

And, even though this is distinctly aimed at ‘business’ this has a huge amount of applicable elements to those of us who work in design – and specifically, the circular economy based types of design.

However, there are areas throughout the whole of the 14 points which can refer to the wider aspects of the design process – equity based crowdfunding for instance, where as an example, Kickstarter has brought many product design projects to fruition with the support of worldwide backers.

One of our own clients – hiSbe – raised an enormous amount of crowd sourced funds to get the project designed, built and supported – and they are now going from strength to strength…

So – is the Crowd Economy the future of business as we know it? We think it is, which is an exciting place to be. The next part is to decide how, and where we all fit in this ever evolving business sphere…

(image by Sean Moffitt via Crowd Souring Week)

the Tomorrow Collective – inspired by the past, designing for the future…

Every day, across the world, we are creating more and more stuff. More stuff that we will use, discard and possibly never see again. Of course, some stuff we will continue to use, cherish and (hopefully) develop and repair throughout our lives, but unfortunately this is rather in the minority. This is one of the major problems with product design – how do we create new ‘things’ that people will want to use and want to keep – and that are relevant to the modern user? The Tomorrow Collective, a group of Masters students from the Lund University’s School of Industrial Design have been pondering this too – creating a range of products that address these issues…

‘In a time when the single person is becoming more and more distanced from where things come from, how they are made, what they are made of and where they inevitably end up, it becomes increasingly harder to see the consequences of our lifestyles and choices. We depend on fossil fuel driven transportation systems, monocultural large-scale farming and non renewable, toxic energy sources. Our economies thrive on productivity and consumption and we live like there’s no tomorrow. The Tomorrow Collective is about exploring ways of enabling us to live a sustainable life in the future. Inspired by past knowledge of how to grow, make and be, the project presents concepts for modern tools and systems that can be used in a cyclic sense, within private homes or to share in smaller communities.’ 

From herb collecting kits, to sunflower seed presses, shoe making / repair kits and natural cleaning systems, the Tomorrow Collective have created a range of really interesting (and thought provoking) projects which are made beautifully too.

Even perfume has gone natural, with a kit allowing you to create your own fragrance from self identified and harvested wild herbs and flowers…

We think designers that think in this way are a delight – without this type of reflective practice, how can we ever start to reassess our current ways of living and bring ourselves in line with what will be required? However, these projects often remain in the beautiful but conceptual sphere – never making it to the wider, consumer based world.

Why is this? Is it a step too far? Do we not have the time (or inclination yet) to be so involved in the processes of our products? Or is now the time that we need to re-educate ourselves and step outside of the vast consumerist world and begin to create for ourselves again… Many ‘trends’ are pointing towards this as a distinct change in mindset, but with the recent apparent decline of the ‘hipster’ there is also the musings of whether this type of self creation will fade back into the self sufficiency past of whence it came.

We hope not. As designers we believe that the personal connection to our products is extremely important. This is the way forward, even though, as the Tomorrow Collective have shown, is discovered through looking back…

THE TOMORROW COLLECTIVE from patrik bruzelius on Vimeo.

rethinking the way we make things… Studio Swine

Yes. For those eagle eyed people out there – yes – the title of this post has been shamelessly ripped off from the subtitle of the marvellous ‘Cradle to Cradle’ manifesto by Braungart and McDonough. But it is something that we think about a great deal here in the studio. We are designers and makers of spaces, things and experiences – and we need to be fully aware of how we go about that. We continually rethink the way we make things. Because of this rather healthy obsession, we are really interested to see how other people are going about it too…

Now, we have featured the Sea Chair project by the great Studio Swine here on The Ecospot before and it remains firmly one of our very favourite projects of all time. It is elegant and beautiful and speaks very poetically about the waste that is affecting our oceans. But Studio Swine also created a project called Can City, which also deals with similar problems in a very similar way…

Can City by Studio Swine

It is an elegant project – perhaps not replicable in large scales, but with a bit of rethinking – why not? We have so much waste that not only creates problems of disposal, health and contamination, but also we need to realise that this is raw material and resources that are literally being wasted. This on a global scale is not sustainable at all, so this kind of rethinking and recovery are becoming absolutely imperative.

As designers, this is our responsibility to rethink the way we make things.

in praise of the refurbished…

We are very lucky at the studio to be located along a very long road in Hove that can only be described as ‘eclectic’. With Portslade Station at one end, and well into the reaches of Hove in another, Portland Road is about a mile or so of houses, schools, a park and a variety of retail spaces (plus our little studio, based in the old public toilet). But theses are not any old retail spaces – they are all mostly small, independent shops and cafes – all very different. But what struck us recently whilst walking to the Post Office (6 minutes from studio) was how many great examples of repair, refurbished, service based industry and reclaimed goods shops there were on Portland Road.

dyson city

There are two launderettes. A sewing and alteration workshop, two computer repair shops, a cobbler, an refurbished oven place. A scattering of secondhand stores, a hardware store and the Bargain Vacuum Centre, to name but a few. And it was in the last store – the Bargain Vacuum Centre that we found the latest addition to our studio – an almost new, refurbished Dyson City vacuum cleaner.

Complete with all the bits and bobs – and a 9 month guarantee, this little vacuum only set us back £50. ‘Any problems and whizz it back’, we were told. ‘Sure, we replied – we are just along the road’. And this is what is great about this type of ‘High Street’ – the mix of people, skills and services – all independent and backlit acrylic sign free – offering the personable experience that is not found elsewhere. This is what we love and this is why we are very proud to be part of Portland Road.

We need to save these types of road, because there is very little that we are not able to access within a 7 minute walk of the studio – and we are very aware that this is a precious rarity. Chains have their places, but these are the roads that can offer us repair, reuse or leasing – on our doorsteps…

Here’s to the refurbished.

Structual Skin makes full use of leather waste…

As designers we are faced with daily choices. How to design something – what it is made of and how we source the materials are key to understanding the impact of our designs. This is why we choose to work with as much ‘waste’ material as possible in our work and we are delighted to see examples of how other designers are tackling the same issues. The Structural Skin project by Spanish designer  Jorge Penadés is a great example of very alternative thinking.

Jorge Penadés-Structural-Skin-1

Leather working, whilst very traditional, is extremely wasteful and inefficient as a process, so Penades has created a new method for using the scraps of otherwise discarded leather. The pieces, after being shredded, are bound and compressed to produce a material that looks rather like a bar of nut studded chocolate, but can be used to create new products – like the examples from the capsule collection which features a clothes rail and side table.

Jorge Penadés-Structural-Skin-3

Due to the natural quality of the material, it features a whole range of colours and patternations, adding to the individual nature of each of the pieces.

This lovely video shows the process…

Structural Skin from Jorge Penadés on Vimeo.

Growing food on waste coffee – the Espresso Mushroom company…

We are big supporters of creating new things from waste, especially as most waste – with a bit of thought – can be redirected into creating new products. This can come in many forms, from buildings that  can be created from waste materials (like the Waste House in Brighton) through to new consumer products (such as truck tarpaulin bags from Freitag). And we predict that this pattern will escalate over the coming years as we start to realise that raw materials are either too scarce or expensive to use. It is a huge opportunity for designers to think in the circular rather than linear. But it is not just products that can be created – what about our food? This is exactly what the Espresso Mushroom Company are doing…

Hot Pink Oyster Mushroom Kitchen Garden Espresso Mushroom Company

Founded in Brighton, the Espresso Mushroom Company grow, and create kits allowing you to grow mushrooms from a substrate based on reclaimed coffee grounds which are gathered by bike from local cafes.

But one of the staggering elements of this project is the sheer scale of the waste coffee grounds that are produced daily – and usually get directed straight into landfill. For instance, the Espresso Mushroom Company puts it into perpective:

‘Less than 1% of the coffee cherry harvested from the coffee tree is in an espresso coffee and over 70 million cups of coffee are drunk every day in the UK.’  That’s a lot of coffee – the grounds of which are currently wasted.

And the kits are simple – open, water, grow, harvest. (and we are planning on getting one for our new studio…)

So – fresh food created from waste. What’s not to love? Check out the main Espresso Mushroom Company website for full details of the kits available…

(images via the Espresso Mushroom Company website)

2014 recap – September – the narrative of the Jerwood…

September and May are always two of the busiest months for us at the studio, with the Brighton Festival and the London Design Festival, but we managed to have a day off – and we went to the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings…

first published 8th September…

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)

2014 recap – May – narratives in design…

In May there was lots going on. We spoke at a couple of events, ran a foraging walk in Brighton and visited stacks of Artist’s Open Houses for both ourselves and our clients. It was a busy month, but for our 2014 recap we are looking back to one of the talks we did – all about narratives in design…

first published 12 May 2014…

At the end of last week I was invited to speak at the first Interdisciplinary Narrative Symposium at the University of Sussex, which got me thinking generally about narrative. What do we mean when we talk about narrative as designers? Is everything we do concerned with the narratives of design? What exactly are the narratives of design?


With speakers from a variety of disciplines, speaking about the different forms of narrative, I was aware that my own application of the term was going to be very different to everyone else, particularly if you then start to think about the theoretical and practical references to the term…

So. I listed a few of the ways that narrative is used in our own studio works. Basically – the stories that we use and the stories we create. Vernacular references are key – ensuring that the projects we create are rooted conceptually in their places, using nods to historical elements, or site stories, or even the materials of the area – like the black tiles and forms of the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings by HAT which references the pitched roofs and blackness of the Old Town fishing net huts, which sit beside. Referenced, but with no pastiche.

Historical narrative is also key in our work, so our designs often are borne out of the fact that they used to be something else, but we try and ensure that this previous life is retained and respected, either within a site or within a product. Repair is championed here in the studio – don’t chuck something that can be repaired – and actually, this repair is an essential part of the process in the life of the product – be it a building or an actual product. It adds to the story.

Re-use is essentially a historical narrative of a previous life that we feel is important and should inform the new. Equally, the materials used in a product have distinct narratives that we use as designers, but are based deeper in the psyche of our own backgrounds and communities. For instance, a product created in wood has a very different feel, associated value and longevity compared to the same form in plastic…

Lastly, I spoke about the power of a strong narrative within a brand. And not just a story that is attached to a brand – a brand that is literally founded on a wonderful and meaningful concept. Microsoft PowerPoint - Design should tell a story - narratives i

Who Made Your Pants was the example that I gave – a wonderful company based in Southampton which reconnects the people who actually are responsible for creating your pants with you, the end user with a little name label in the pants themselves. No sweat shops, no hidden workers – the whole process is beautifully transparent and serves not only to educate us as the wearers of the garments, but helps those who are making them too.

Plus, the fabric that the pants are made from are end of line, past season fabrics that the fashion houses have declared as ‘last season’, but are of course, still completely beautiful and functional. And they are beautiful.

The pants themselves are not only stunning, they are highly finished, very comfortable and a joy to own. But the fact that they are so gorgeous does not a deep brand make. The strength of the ethical story ensures that we ask questions – as I did in the presentation, to a group of mixed age academics and invited guests. Unsurprisingly, I was the only one who could honestly say who had made my pants, which is what I expected. The disconnect between the makers of our products and ourselves is starting to be more of an open issue, which surely can only bring about deeper concern and a heightening call for all workers to be respected, regardless of their locations.

But, in the meantime, it is companies such as Who Made Your Pants who are starting to open our eyes. And how?

By telling stories. The best and foundational in the narratives of design. 

(slides from presentation, pictures on slides via Who Made Your Pants)

2014 recap – February – the markets of the future…

Today on our 2014 recap we are looking back to one of our Monday Musing posts in February, where we were talking a little bit about the future of the farmer’s market and where the markets of the future could be rolling…

first published 3 Feb 2014…

With the rise in both our wider interest in the origins of our food and our desire for easy, seasonal consumption, it is no real wonder that farmers markets, pop up food stalls and street dining have exploded over recent years. However – the static market – even if it just inhabits one street per week, can result in an infrastructure nightmare, with road closures, a limited amount of visitors local to the area and the rubbish generated at the end of the day.

La Petite Ceinture market, traveling markets, train market Paris,

But what could be the answer? A recent proposal submitted to the 2013 M.ART Opengap Competition seeks to address these issues with a market that travels along the decommissioned or underused rail lines in Paris.

La Petite Ceinture by Amílcar Ferreira and Marcelo Fernandes refocusses the concept of the market as a commercial space by organising it into a series of inhabited carriages which can literally pop up in various areas of the city for periods of time, benefiting not only a wider audience but also cutting out set up and shut down times.

The proposed project creates an interesting mix between local and tourist needs whilst also creating a travelling ‘event’ for the city. It also aims to rehabilitate the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (which translates into ‘the little belt railway) in Paris, which previously ran between the walls of the city.

If built, we think that this concept would be a very interesting development in the advancement of what we deem to be sustainable retail, as well as beginning to redefine what we think of as temporary, pop-up happenings within our city.

The High Line has used decommissioned rail structures in New York as an innovative public landscape area, but could areas such as these be re-enlivened with markets and travelling retail experiences?

We can only wait to see.

(image via inhabitat)