SPOTTED – a very nice industrial shelving IKEA hack…

Hacking is something that we do a lot in the studio. We take something that started life as something else and we reinvent it for clients, or very occasionally for our own studio. We are always on the lookout for great examples of hacking and we are always looking for things to hack, which is probably why our workshop is full of random bits and pieces waiting to be brought back to life. The industrial styled aesthetic is also something that we tend to edge towards in our own studio styling, so we are delighted when we find a project that spans the two. This simple IKEA hack does that rather nicely.

IKEA hack shelving

Using the IKEA EKBY TORE bracket (which are only £5 each) the designers have painted each one a fantastic bright colour and contrasted them beautifully with the raw wood. This is such a quick hack it would be doable for anyone – with only a little bit of outlay and a little bit of time…

We quite fancy this idea for part of our own new studio, as we have stacks of scaffold boards that are being reinvented into shelving as we speak.

We would go for a lovely acid green…

(found via Stilschut)

SPOTTED – a table football coat rack…

I have never been very good at table football, and indeed there is a table that we rescued, part broken from a car boot fair that is still languishing in the depths of the workshop. But, of course, not everything has to stay in the same form that it started as. And we are rather inspired by this table football coat rack…

LADP Offside Coat Hook

The LADP Offside Coat Rack by Norwegian designer Runa Klock is available in red, blue or green and is a lovely example of rethinking a particular piece of design for another purpose.

It also works rather well, with the natural rocking motion of the table football people coming nicely into play when something is placed on the rack. Plus, if you have a piece of clothing that is particularly large or small, the footballers can shimmy along the rod to suit.

A bit of fun, but a nice design that works well too.

(image via funktion alley)

Monday musings – new products on show at the University of Sussex…

As well as running the cpd studio, I also do a bit of tutoring, lecturing and critiquing up at the University of Sussex within the School of Engineering and Informatics, where I am very proud to be a school associate. Mostly, I teach on the BSc Product Design course, which had a very early, but fantastic final year show last week.

design 14 2

The standard, and the range of projects was wonderful, from a new concept in sandwich packaging that can help to create a city wide edible planted landscape to a modular toaster that can be taken completely to pieces for repair.

muro 1

Another project looked at how a marine fish tank could be redesigned to be both easier to look after and more energy efficient, whilst other student designers showed products with integrated solar charging to power lighting or interfaces.

design 14

One student has invented a new type of recycling bin designed to reduce the noise generated from glass bottles – especially important in inner city areas where the communal bins are located close to homes.

But the winner of our own ‘cpd eco design award 2014′ (a bunch of Urban Cottage Industries bits and bobs) went to a project that I just adored. Maxim Grew has created a new camera, based on the original large format models with accordion style bellows of the past. The new model, the Intrepid Camera is not only gorgeous to look at and relatively easy to use, Max is planning on the design becoming the foundation of a new DIY movement where you actually download the CAD files and get the pieces to build your own camera cut out. So, the survival of a key piece of historic photographic kit, with little waste and the satisfaction of a hand built product that creates beautiful pictures? wonderful…

camera 1

It was excellent to see the standard of design thinking that the students at the University of Sussex presented – and I look forward to seeing it all again at New Designers soon…

(photos by claire potter)

*** you can also keep up to date with all the University of Sussex School of Engineering and Informatics activities at the school blog –

Weekend colour inspiration – a coloured light installation in Berlin

Today on weekend colour inspiration we are looking at something a little different. Using light to create a colour installation. We spotted this lovely installation under a bridge in Berlin, which was nothing short of beautiful.Berlin light installation 2

The linear lights were arranged in a very large, slightly squished circle on the underside of the bridge and provided a beautiful swathe of coloured lights as they grew brighter and faded in turn, creating a phasing effect.

berlin light installation 1

Now, this sort of light installation is perhaps too large for the average residential space, and perhaps a bit too disco, but on a smaller scale, this sort of effect could be used in a stairway, or even in a garden space. Static, or fading slightly would be less distracting, but any coloured light adds real drama to the space.

Give it a go.

(images by claire potter) go see a video of this on our Instagram feed…

SPOTTED – Brick detailing in Berlin…

Ok. I admit it. I do tend to get rather snap happy when I go travelling about, much to the despair of my poor iPhone which is heaving with around 2500 photos at present. But, it is not until I get back and start to look through them all that I do tend to find a bit of a pattern running though. And so it was with this trip to Berlin. Cue lots of photos of open landscaping, imposing architecture, awesome graffiti and brick detailing – both old and new.

modern brick detailing

Brick detailing is something that is often overlooked in modern buildings, quite often as brick has been ditched in favour of a cladding or curtain walling system, but actually, the humble brick can actually be quite wonderful.

ghostly brick detailing at the BASF building

Whilst in Berlin we spotted a range of brick buildings spanning perhaps 200 years or so – all with an incredible level of detailing.

brick detailing under the bridge

Different shades, shapes, arrangements and positioning were explored within the structures to great effect. Spirals, towers, relief sections and recessed sections. Standard bricks and specially formed bricks specific to the design.

brick detailing tower

A really wonderful set of very different buildings which led us to think about why bricks are not considered as much in contemporary buildings. Yes, the cost of construction will often be higher for a brick built façade, but we should not forget the humble brick. After all, it is the LEGO of the construction world.

(images by claire potter)

SPOTTED – a build you own cardboard boombox…

Today on spotted, we have found a rather interesting way to listen to your tunes – and a lovely low tech one too. We have looked at natural, low fi ways to amplify the sounds from your phone before, with bamboo poles and even sections of plastic pipe, but we are yet to feature a cardboard system. But we found one. The new, build you own cardboard boombox.

A Cardboard Sound System For Your Smartphone

Created by Berlin based designer and illustrator, Axel Pfaender, the Berlin Boombox is actually a die cut cardboard structure that has been printed with the classic 1980′s boombox layout – complete with knobs, equalisers and push buttons. The electronic parts of the kit are also included and slot quickly into the card box with no cutting or glue required.

A Cardboard Sound System For Your Smartphone in technology  Category

It also only takes three AA batteries to power the digital 2×5 watts amplifier and speakers from which your tunes will sound, via the integrated headphone jack.

Available in a series of colours, or blanks (including a recycled cardboard option), the cardboard boombox is ripe for customisation to suit your own styling. So long as you are based firmly in the 80′s.

(photos via Berlin Boombox)

great upcycling is… a colander light. of course.

You cannot beat a bit of upcycling. Take one thing, rethink it and reinvent it for the better. Give it a new life and a new meaning and make it personal to you and your space. We quite often work with our clients to reinvent things they already have, or purchase things specifically for upcycling into new things. And quite often, those things end up being lights, so we were quite taken with this great example of upcycling in this colander light. 

Spotted over on Pinterest, the original light can be found at (where, unfortunately, it is currently out of stock), but it would be quite easy to recreate this look with similar pieces of kitchenware.

Bright enamelware works particularly well for this kind of light as you get a nice spot of colour into the light, plus the holes in the colander help to spread the light round the space with a nice pattern thrown in.

If you are making a light in this sort of vein, you will also need your hardware – the bulb holders (metal / Bakelite), the ceiling rose (raw metal or coloured?) and of course, the lighting flex, which is available in braided patterns, plain round or twisted, like the above.

Look no further than the fabulous Urban Cottage Industries and their Historic Lighting range. Beautiful products and excellent service. Plus everything is wrapped in brown paper and card boxes… Our recent delivery has just arrived for a new multi outlet chandelier we are building for a client and we cannot wait to get going….

Snaps here soon…

(image via

Wednesday walls – green walls from plastic bottles…

Today on Wednesday walls we are looking at a little bit of guerrilla gardening, with this fantastic pop up wall garden, which was installed at a home by Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum to help the underprivileged family gain direct access to food and medicinal herbs.

Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum created this hanging garden of recycled plastic bottles to help an underprivileged family with limited space in Sao Paulo live more sustainably. The old bottles were strung together and planted with flowers, spices and medicinal herbs.

We love this idea – we have written before about gutter gardening, which takes a similar form as this, but what we particularly love is the very low tech nature of this design and installation. Using locally sourced, waste 2ltr drinks bottles, the new installation is very simply constructed using suspended steel cables attached to the wall, which means that if any get broken, it is easy – and cheap to replace them.

As far as green walling goes, this is about as low tech as it gets, but the vital part is that the installation is completely suitable for the location, which is key to a great design intervention. Site, and client specific.

A wonderful, simple project that will create a real difference to the family, promote recycling and provide fresh food. And the best thing? It can be easily replicated…

(image via Innocent Facebook)

Weekend colour inspiration – using colour for wayfinding…

This week we are looking at how colour can be used for wayfinding in buildings and landscapes – even at temporary events – with this great photo that we spotted over on Pinterest.


We have long been fans of using colour within spaces to assist with the wayfinding within the building – whole walls painted one colour to aid navigation for instance, but this photo shows that the graphics do not have to be at all complicated to create an instant understanding of where you are within a location.

With a neutral grey background, the graphic is easy to understand, and the colours could be linked with other architectural elements to provide an navigational language.

A very simple trick for commercial settings…

(image via Pinterest)

Wednesday walls – creating walls from cardboard tubes, by Shigeru Ban

As we spoke about yesterday, we visited Ecobuild last week to see what was new in the world of eco construction and building, but we were also rather keen to listen to a talk by the fantastic Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Well known for his elegant structures, Ban in also well known for creating huge, structural spaces out of cardboard tubes.

Now, cardboard is generally not the material that springs to mind when it comes to creating architecture, but, as Ban has proved, the humble tube can provide immense strength – enough to be used as a structural material if the walls are at the specified thickness.

One of the fantastic things about using cardboard tubes as a building material is that often they are manufactured close to the site (as they are a global commodity) and can be used in a variety of ways. Ban’s own work has used the tube in both structural frameworks and as walls within buildings.

Plus, the buildings have an incredible honesty and lightness to them – something that is hard to achieve with the traditional brick and mortar building methods that we are used to in the West.

Ban has also produced a lot of work that has provided a quick response to disaster relief, creating both individual and community based buildings for areas rebuilding after natural disasters such as earthquakes. The speed that the cardboard technology allows in the building process is perfect for this application, but the buildings have the ability to last much longer and are often adopted into the new communities.

Otherwise, whole buildings have been dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere.

So next time you look at a cardboard tube, don’t just look at it as a cardboard tube. Look at it as a building material.

(images via Shigeru Ban website)