The Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance… pt 3

Things are coming together for our Untangled Project – the Ghost Gear Chandelier which we are creating for the World Cetacean Alliance – which will be exhibited alongside the work of other artists and designers very soon. So – how have we been progressing? We have been sorting and washing our netting…World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing 2World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing 3 World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing 4

And with our ghost gear netting colour sorted, and through four water changes to get rid of the grit and smell, we turned our attention to the hardwear element of our Ghost Gear Chandelier…

We are massive fans of Factorylux – and use their stuff in many of our projects (including our own Studio Loo) as the gorgeous coloured fabric cable, fixtures and fittings they produce are exceptional quality, and it was not long until we had decided on a bright blue lighting flex and antique brass lamp holders. The bulb – one of Factorylux’s stunning eco filament bulbs will be revealed soon as we start to build our Ghost Gear Chandelier.

claire potter design World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear lighting hardwear

Watch this space!

(images by claire potter)

2015 recap – August – Project Ocean and more marine litter…

We are staying with marine litter for our most popular August post here on The Ecospot – this time with a review of Project Ocean at Selfridges…

(first posted August 15)

As I have mentioned here before, in a childhood long long ago, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was fascinated by the sea – the abundance yet invisibility of the life. The variety and the scale of those underwater cities, filled me with wonder. Fast forward a few years, and even having decided that design and architecture was my calling, the childhood awe for our oceans never drifted away. This, coupled with the studio foundation in sustainable design is why the issue of marine litter – and particularly plastic waste holds such a concern for us. So – it was with delight that we found that this years Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London, was to focus on this very subject…

Project Ocean 13

It may seem quite odd for a huge department store, which of course, is based on our insatiable appetite for consumption to hold an exhibition of this kind. However, where better place to educate the masses of the issues at hand? By situating the exhibition in a side section of the homewares section in the basement we were optimistic that it would be rammed with people keen to learn more.

This, unfortunately, was not the case. 

Having battled through shoppers on an end-of-the-week spending binge, we entered the exhibition under a ceiling installation of single use water bottles and into a beautifully conceived, yet ghostly quiet space. It was a real shock.

Project Ocean 4

But this was but one of many shocks we discovered at the Project Ocean exhibition. The ceiling of the entrance featured an installation by How About Studio, constructed from 5,000 single use plastic water bottles diverted from the London waste stream – representing the amount of bottles used by the UK market every 15 seconds, which was staggering. Of course, not all of these single use bottles will end up in the ocean, but considering the recycling rates are so pitifuly low, it certainly puts the issue into perspective.

Project Ocean 12

Turning left into the space, we were greeted by a large poster featuring the most dangerous species in the ocean, from a cotton bud sea urchin to a plastic bag jellyfish, again with sobering data on how long plastic waste persists in the water, and the damage it creates.

Project Ocean 10

Project Ocean is split into two halves, with the Water Bar and the main Exhibition – we headed to the Water Bar area, which concentrates on Selfridges own commitments to the cause. The long, recycled glass bar is clean and modern in shades of nautical blue and white and is where the resident ‘water sprites’ dispense free water to visitors, tinted with herbs, essences and fresh fruit.

Project Ocean 11

Behind the bar is a small yet intriguing collection of water vessels from around the world – from clay pots to aluminium French cycling bottles – all reusable, which contrasted well with the abundance of single use water bottles hanging over our heads as we entered the space.

Alongside the Water Bar was a small collection of the vessels that can be purchased from Selfridges, from bpa free plastic bottles to elegant glass carafes and chunky glasses. We were delighted to see that these were sat on a chunk of recycled plastic from Smile Plastics, which not only gave a very relevant nod to the Project Ocean focus, but looked wonderful. This is something we are very keen to promote – as designers it is up to us to specify these types of recycled materials to encourage others to produce materials from ‘waste’.

Project Ocean 3

But the Selfridges commitment also involves the removal of all single use plastic water bottles from their cafes and food halls, and the installation of a public water fountain instead – encouraging people and providing a source for people to refill their own vessels. The water ‘tinting’ will only last for the duration of the Project Ocean exhibition (until early September), but this action will hopefully make people consider their choices…

Join us for Part two on 19th August where we enter the exhibition part of Project Ocean…

(all images by claire potter)

2015 recap – March 2015 – industrial interior design – on trend or eco?

March heralded a very popular post about our specialism, eco interior design and industrial interior design, and here we were pondering… is all industrial interior design automatically eco?

(first published 31 March 15)

Often, when people find out that we are ‘eco interior architects’, they ask exactly what that means. Do we only use natural materials? Do we use reclaimed materials? Do we have a particular look? The answer varies, but the general consensus is ‘sometimes’. We do use a huge amount of natural materials and specialise in using reclaimed pieces, and whilst our style is very particular to the studio (a general honest, slightly industrial look) it depends hugely on what our client requires. But, the ongoing trend for ‘industrial’ styled spaces tends to lean towards the use of honest, raw, yet highly precise materials.

Designing a Modern Fast Food Restaurant

One such example of this type of interior is with the new fast food restaurant, ‘Simple’ in central Kiev. This innovative restaurant was given a complete identity and interior design by Ukrainian based Brandon Agency, who stuck to the use of organic materials such as plywood, kraft paper and machined timber to create a simple and unified scheme.

brandon-agency-simple-restaurant-8

With the ubiquitous grey (of which we are massive fans…) there is a good balance between the white brick and the green of the plants – another essential ingredient in the stereotypical ‘eco’ interior, which creates a fresh and welcoming, if slightly hipstery space. The design is thorough and beautifully balanced and fits the branding and ethos of the company – simple – very well.

Now, we are fully aware that even though eco interiors can be created in any style, this is the type of project which has come to represent the genre. This is great whilst the grey / green / timber space is being welcomed, but we are pretty keen to break down a myth that perhaps all eco interiors look like this. Many projects that may not be seen as an ‘eco’ interior on the face are actually very responsibly sourced and specified, so if you do not see wood and plants, it does not necessarily mean that it is not an eco interior.

Sometimes you have to scratch the surface a bit…

(images via Design Milk)

Green Gift Guide – day four – stuff for the home…

Today on day three of our Green Gift Guide, we are looking at nice stuff for the home and garden, which will eco up a space very nicely indeed – and some in very different ways than you may think…

1 – Eco Filament bulb by Urban Cottage Industries – Filament bulbs have been the go-to fitting for a few seasons now to create that popular industrial style interior, but despite looking great, they are certainly not great for energy efficiency. But, thankfully, there is now an option which combines the looks of old style filaments with the energy efficiency we should all be striving for. The Eco Filament by Urban Cottage Industries is A-rated and has a life of 25,000 hours, which equates to 11 years at 6 hours per day… fantastic. from £30.60 inc delivery

Caret lamp eco-filament E27

2 – Hessian covered lighting cable by Urban Cottage Industries – we are sticking with Urban Cottage Industries for the next of our green things for the house, and whilst many people would argue that lighting cable is not sexy, we would beg to differ. The shade gets all the attention, the bulb partly so, but the cable often gets forgotten… bring your lighting up to scratch with some of this brand new hessian covered lighting cable from Urban Cottage Industries – £4.80 per metre (order a bit more and give it a decorative loop we say)

Hessian Fabric Cable | Cloth Covered Wire | 3 Core Round

2 – Home Hack kit by Sugru – there is barely a day goes by when we do not mention Sugru and what we could do with it here in the studio. We have a tin of this wonder stuff in every colour possible in the studio and we use it on everything from in-house repairs to client projects. Sugru – the self setting silicon based rubber has grown into a community, with people posting their hacks and repairs online – proudly showing how they have fixed their stuff. And now Sugru has started a home hack kit, complete with other useful things which you can combine with the mouldable coloured Sugru such as magnets, bits of lego and tennis balls… we love this stuff. Perfect for a DIY enthusiast in your life. Or actually anyone. £17 plus shipping
Home Hacks Made Easy — The Kit

4 – seeds from The Garden House from What You Sow – The beautiful online store What you Sow has everything you would need for those with green fingers – from tools to twine, but it is the seeds from The Garden House, with their stunningly simple illustrations that we adore. With a variety of edibles and flowers to choose from, we say get a bundle of seeds, then also buy your giftee a lovely secondhand frame too, so they can frame up those great illustrations after planting. from 2.95 each plus shipping (final orders 18th Dec!)

Garden House Seeds at What You Sow

5 – recycled card light shades from Tabitha Bargh – possibly the most ‘obvious’ eco choice on our Green Gift Guide today, these lovely lampshades take recycled cardboard to a whole new level. Clean and precise, this is how sustainable materials can and should be used – perfect in any modern interior. In fact, we are looking at using these for a project we have got coming up in 2016… from £75 each

So – five eco ideas that may be a little different from your usual options for the home…

(images via associated brands)

Zero Waste Week – zero waste grocery shopping…

Today for zero waste week, we are looking at food and grocery shopping. Whilst we can all move towards ethical consumerism by buying less stuff new, supporting our charity shops and clothes swaps, food shopping is something that we all have to do. We can, of course, shop locally and seasonally, fairtrade and organic, but when it comes to zero waste, the options slim down considerably. But, there are few people tackling this issue head on with an effort towards zero waste – the packaging free food shops.

zero waste week - hiSbe produce area
the hiSbe produce area – all brown paper bags

Now, I may be showing my age a little, but I remember a time when the ‘scoop and save’ shops could be found with relative ease. Huge bins of flours, cake mixes, dried fruit and cereals could be bought, by weight, using the heavy duty brown paper bags at the shop. The empty brown bags went on the compost and everyone was happy. You could even buy a bag of bargain basement broken biscuits (try saying that after a few teatime tiffins). We used to try and fish out as many of the jammie dodgers and pink wafers as we could (delicious and light, respectively).

But like many things that once graced our town centres, one day the dry scoop shops left the high street, and whilst we are sure there must be a few still left, we are more used to buying our goods from the supermarket shelf – prepackaged and in predetermined weights. Choice, and zero waste – gone.

So when we are berating supermarkets and producers for coddling their goods in ever enclosing forms of packaging, what is the alternative? Of course, we can try and recycle the packaging (it is is even suited to recycling), but wouldn’t it be better to not have it there in the first place?

Unpackaged in London – the original store

Step in the scoop and save mark 2 – a new wave of grocery stores are starting to spring up both in the UK and Europe that have rethought the ‘no packaging’ concept and updated it to the needs of the modern consumer.

the new Unverpackt store in Berlin

Founded in 2006, Unpackaged in London encouraged customers to bring their own containers and vessels to fill – weighing them at the start to ensure that only the contents get charged and recently, Unverpackt has opened in Berlin – stocking over 400 different lines. Control of how much food you take is down to you, so if you only need 250g of flour for a cake recipe and you don’t often bake, you don’t need to buy 1.5kg of flour that will end up being studded with weevils. Zero waste for packaging and food alike.

Independent supermarket, hiSbe in Brighton also has a dry dispenser area, and when we were designing the interior of the hiSbe store, this was the one area that we were a little concerned that people would perhaps not ‘get’. Getting the signage, location and process correct for the dry dispensers was key, and whilst new visitors took a little bit of hand holding, people really embraced the zero waste concept and the area became a true hub of the hiSbe store.

zero waste week - hiSbe dry dispensers
the first hiSbe dry dispenser area

In fact, the dry dispensing area at hiSbe has proved so successful, we recently designed an extension to the first area, housing another 20 hoppers, plus containers for herbs and supplements and areas for large stainless steel oil drums, containing extra virgin olive oil. We are also talking about the next steps to extend the area too.

So, is this the way forward for food shopping? Will we become accustomed to dispensing our own goods into easily compostable bags, or into our own containers again? It will certainly allow us to reduce our packaging burden, and give us back more control…

And what would the true zero waste supermarket of tomorrow look like?

(images via Unverpackt and hiSbe by claire potter design)

SPOTTED – Palletables – new furniture from old pallets…

Pallets. Those ubiquitous pieces of temporary street furniture that are often overlooked are actually very interesting things indeed. They are graded and sized to very strict and uniform guidelines for instance. But, even though they are often used multiple times, pallets and packaging actually account for around 25 million cubic metres of wood use per year in Europe alone. This, is not all bad though, as only 3% are reported to end up in landfill. What is great is when pallets are recovered and reused by people like Palletables, who, as you may have guessed, manufacture new furniture from recovered pallets and other bits of reclaimed wood._MG_2494.jpg

Palletables UK is made up of Joe Ensoll and Eleanor Byrd – a couple based in Surrey, with a workshop in Kingston Upon Thames. With backgrounds in photography and graphic design, the pair decided to turn their focus to creating functional pieces of furniture from reclaimed timber – with each piece of wood being allowed to season before being transformed into everything from boot stores to coffee tables._MG_2909.jpgTheir ethos is clear –  ‘We aim to use reclaimed materials wherever possible, including original floor boards and timber beams. We feel strongly that it is important for us to use the abundance of unwanted materials we have all around us, as opposed to using up resources to create more’. Well said we say.

Plus, as well as their range of furniture that is available to buy through their online store, they also undertake bespoke commissions for larger pieces.

And there certainly won’t be a shortage of materials about, so we look forward to seeing what the pair create next…

(images courtesy of Palletables)

industrial interior design or on trend, eco and simple?

Often, when people find out that we are ‘eco interior architects’, they ask exactly what that means. Do we only use natural materials? Do we use reclaimed materials? Do we have a particular look? The answer varies, but the general consensus is ‘sometimes’. We do use a huge amount of natural materials and specialise in using reclaimed pieces, and whilst our style is very particular to the studio (a general honest, slightly industrial look) it depends hugely on what our client requires. But, the ongoing trend for ‘industrial’ styled spaces tends to lean towards the use of honest, raw, yet highly precise materials.

Designing a Modern Fast Food Restaurant

One such example of this type of interior is with the new fast food restaurant, ‘Simple’ in central Kiev. This innovative restaurant was given a complete identity and interior design by Ukrainian based Brandon Agency, who stuck to the use of organic materials such as plywood, kraft paper and machined timber to create a simple and unified scheme.

brandon-agency-simple-restaurant-8

With the ubiquitous grey (of which we are massive fans…) there is a good balance between the white brick and the green of the plants – another essential ingredient in the stereotypical ‘eco’ interior, which creates a fresh and welcoming, if slightly hipstery space. The design is thorough and beautifully balanced and fits the branding and ethos of the company – simple – very well.

Now, we are fully aware that even though eco interiors can be created in any style, this is the type of project which has come to represent the genre. This is great whilst the grey / green / timber space is being welcomed, but we are pretty keen to break down a myth that perhaps all eco interiors look like this. Many projects that may not be seen as an ‘eco’ interior on the face are actually very responsibly sourced and specified, so if you do not see wood and plants, it does not necessarily mean that it is not an eco interior.

Sometimes you have to scratch the surface a bit…

(images via Design Milk)

SPOTTED – the Box Pendant…

Lighting can make a massive difference to a scheme. And of course, there are many different types of lighting which can be selected to create the right sort of usable or decorative statement. But when picking statement lighting – the single piece that you see when you enter a room – there are so many options it can be quite baffling. What size? Colour? Materials? Because of the options available, we keep a close track of lighting that catches our eye, based on design and materials. This Box Pendant is certainly going in our Recycled Lights category…

box pendant

Created in Germany and available at Folklore, the Box Pendant comes in two different diameters and is created using recycled brown cardboard packaging, coiled around itself to create a very utilitarian feeling pendant light. Plus the light does not just comprise the recycled card shade, but comes complete with black fabric cable and a ceiling pendant.

A great lamp that will make a very sustainable statement. Just not for anywhere damp…

(image via Folklore)

SPOTTED – the Philips hue LED system…

We are quite used to banging on about how lights can make a difference in an interior and how planning your lighting is as important as choosing your colours and furniture. We use a massive range of lights in our schemes – from background lighting to task lighting – with the occasional smattering of decorative lighting, like our massive spider chandelier at our new studio.

But there is something we are rather strict about. We only use energy saving bulbs (such as the beautiful Plumen) or LED lights, which are fortunately very easy to find and reasonable to purchase. We also tend to stick to the whites for our bulbs – both cool white and warm white – leaving the colours alone, but we have spotted the fantastic Philips hue LED system and we are being swayed…

These are not just bulbs, they are super clever bulbs which link via a Bridge unit to an app, so they are a complete, responsive system. Not just a point of light, these bulbs work independently or can be linked together to change colour, intensity, come on or off at different times or even provide a visual response to a Twitter feed hashtag for instance. All controlled via the app, and even remotely, so you can change your lighting at home whilst you are out.

This is very clever stuff – and rather exciting too. As well as being infinitely changeable, which means that your interior can change mood at the click of a button, with the hue LED system by Philips you can also create a space that actually responds to the inhabitants. Imagine having a lighting system that grew in intensity with the amount of people tweeting about your event? Or one that changed colour?

We think that these sorts of systems will have a real place in interiors as we become linked to the wider world in a material as well as virtual sense. As well as helping us turn our lights on when we are coming home we can start to see the virtual data that surrounds us on a daily basis – which is exactly what our chums at Urban Cottage Industries did when they linked their Factorylux to the hue LED system – with the light changing every time someone tweeted #halloween

 

Or we can just change the colour of our lights to suit our mood.  The choice will be ours.

(images by claire potter and via Philips)