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…

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)

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)

the edible city – window shades with integrated growing

Even though lots of us like to eat local, seasonal and fresh, not a lot of us have either the time or the space to grow our own food. Inner city allotments are harder to find (and take up lots of time) and many of us do not have the option of outdoor space at all – especially if we live in apartments or flats. But, fortunately, there are lots of designers who are thinking about how we can tackle this issue with innovative products – and we were delighted when we discovered the Herbow concept by Hsu Hao-Po, Chang Yu-Hui & Chang Chung-Wei – a window shade with integrated growing.

Acting as both as a sun shade and adjustable rain screen, the Herbow is a series of window shades with integrated growing for a few plants to take advantage of the space and resources at hand.

Even though this product is only a concept, there is a definite need for this kind of joined up thinking – solving a few problems with a single product and allowing us to be closer to the production of our food.

(images via Yanko Design)

Wednesday Walls – sound absorbing wall panels by Form Us With Love

Sound absorbing wall panels may not be the obvious choice for a beautiful wall covering, but these geometric, interchangable, modular designs by Swedish studio From Us With Love are rather tasty indeed.

Constructed from a combination of cement, wood wool and water, the BAUX panels are relatively environmentally sound and moisture resistant as well as being very sound deadening and aesthetically beautiful.

The six shapes are available in two different sizes, which creates over 240 variations in the graphic treatment, with colour themes such as Cloud, Sea and Sky.

So, instead of having a functional yet bland product, you can absorb sounds in a product that looks great too. A perfect product for offices…

(images via Form Us With Love)

scarcity is beautiful – repurposed design by Paulo Goldstein

We spotted this beautiful little repurposed project over on Pinterest, from the fabulous Design Milk and we knew that we had to feature it here on the Ecospot – the Scarcity is Beautiful project by Paulo Goldstein.

Scarcity Is Beautiful by Paulo Goldstein

Commissioned by Central St Martins Head of School Professor, Jeremy Till, the pieces by Goldstein examine the premise of the scarcity of things by creating new pieces from the salvaged elements of other pieces.

Featuring parts that were scavenged across London, the ‘new’ products are a mixture of cleverly chosen and reconstructed pieces. Broken chair backs are paired with an odd set of legs. Springs are topped with a new seat surface. New from old.

But as well as the commentary on our consumerist society and our general attitude to material goods, the products created are actually rather beautiful – and notably ‘fixed’ together. 

For us, this is key. We regularly re-use materials and products in our designs and we do not make any apologies at all for what they once were. We like people to see a previous life. But a ‘redesign’ an also be a ‘refined design’ and we take great care to ensure that the new repurposed piece is neat and tidy. Considered. 

Scarcity Is Beautiful by Paulo Goldstein

And this is what, for us, is so delightful about these pieces. The attention to detail with the binding (neat, one colour, precise), the connections (they fit) and the general design (the construction, balance etc).

This is what the future of repurposed design should be. As considered as the initial pieces that combine to create the new… And perhaps this will allow us to value the repurposed as highly as the new - maybe even higher.

Because as Goldstein has identified – Scarcity is Beautiful. 

(images via Design Milk)

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)

Monday musings – push down your bills and close up those draughts…

It is still cold. And rainy. And rather windy too. In fact, Spring is not just into springing any time soon by the looks of it, so we are still suffering with the last throes of winter.


But, we have written quite a bit about how you can try and stay a bit warmer by doing not too much and at the end of January, we were very pleased to be contribute to an online article on just the subject on online blog Soak and Sleep.

Head our top money saving tip – plus four extra tips by other experts here now!

Monday Musings – a concept for the markets of the future?

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)

Studio Swine – the Can City project…

We have a bit of a fan thing going on for Studio Swine. Their open sourced Sea Chair was one of our very favourite (and your favourite) posts last year – where plastic cleaned up from a beach near your could be melted down and, using the free instructions, turned into a lovely little stool, unique to you and your plastics. And in creating the stool, you are cleaning up your beach. Double winner.

studio swine can city

And now Studio Swine have created another very lovely project – the Can City project – which sees salvaged aluminium cans smelted down via a little mobile foundry on the streets of Sao Paulo, using waste vegetable oil from the cafes and street food stands and turned into individual stools.

Each stool is sand cast using inexpensive builders sand – creating a unique and beautiful piece of new design from old waste and items found locally to the mobile foundry.

But as well as being a very interesting investigation into the creative reuse of a material, Studio Swine are looking at how industry – and the creation of new products – can return to the city, by turning the streets themselves into impromptu manufacturing lines.

Another lovely, lovely project.

(images by Studio Swine)