The Buster LED Bulb shines bright at Salone del Mobile…

It goes rather without saying that we are huge advocates of the LED bulb in our interior schemes, but until very recently there has been rather a lack of good looking LED bulbs on the market. This can be a problem, especially with the bare bulb trend that is continuing in many designs, from retail and bar design to industrial styled residential spaces. So, we were delighted when we heard about the rather lovely Buster LED bulb by London based design studio Buster + Punch. And when we were in Milan for the Salone del Mobile, we went and said hello…

Buster and Punch chandelier

Heralded as the ‘world’s first designer LED bulb’ the Buster bulb comes in three different colour varieties – crystal, gold and smoked – and looks stunning.


‘With the design, we wanted to achieve two things. The first was, quite simply, to make LED sexy. The second was to create a more useful light bulb that would give off both an ambient warm glow and a focused spot light – something never achieved by a single light bulb before.’

And this is exactly what the Buster LED bulb does – it looks amazing and works wonderfully, with the clear resin central tube transferring and diffusing the light through the very classic teardrop shaped bulb. It is also a direct replacement for the standard incandescent bulbs, is dimmable and consumes 1/20th of the power of the traditional bulb. Plus, each bulb is a very reasonable £40 or so each.


‘Buster + Punch are a small independant company that make things, so when we decided to take on the challenge to build the world’s first designer LED bulb people thought we were mad! – Clearly there was a 99% chance that one of the bigger guys would beat us to it.

As I sit here today writing this, we all feel a massive sense of pride, not just becuase we managed to build what we think is a great looking piece of design, but because this simple light bulb might just help the everyman save a little bit of money and help the environment at the same time. It could only be a small shift, but hopefully we can finally get people looking at eco-efficient design in a different light’ says Massimo Buster Minale – Founder & Co-Designer.

Buster LED bulb

And this is key – ‘eco’ or ‘green’ or ‘energy efficient’ design does not need to mean that is does not look great. They are not mutually exclusive terms. They can co-exist – and the more designers that realise this the better.

Well done Buster + Punch.

(photos by claire potter and images courtesy of Buster + Punch)

december wish list day 13 – conductive paint kit by bare conductive…

We are getting a little bit crafty for our december wish list today, with this fantastic conductive paint kit by award winning bare conductive. It is always great to get something to make each Christmas (if nothing else, to divert our attentions away from the mince pies), and we would be particularly happy if we received one of this sets to create.

So what is conductive paint? Simply put, it is paint that is conductive. You draw a line and the line will conduct electricity, which is like some sort of magic. And to coin a phrase, the possibilities are endless – from creative projects like the flashing card set above to technical applications. It is fantastic to teach children about how electricity and circuits work, and it has many applications in the maker sphere, where it can be teamed up with Raspberry Pi’s and the like.

And like all maker sphere products, there is a fantastic range of projects that people have created and uploaded to share. For us, it feels rather like Sugru, which is another firm studio favourite.

Plus, this magical substance is not expensive – at £15 for the three card kit, or around £7 for the electrical paint on its own, it is a nice stocking filler.

Electrical stockings that is…

(image via Bare Conductive)

december wish list day 6 – drop top lamp shade by Plumen…

Day six already on our December wish list, and today we are choosing something nice for the home. Beautiful and responsible too. The very lovely Drop Top Lamp shade by Plumen – complete with one of the stunning and award winning energy saving Plumen 001 bulbs by Hulger.

Drop Top Lamp Shade (A) Set - Black

This shade and bulb combo is certainly something very special. The hand blown glass shade softens the side glare of the bulb, whilst still perfectly illuminating downwards. Available in a variety of colours, this darker shades of this, er, shade disguises the bulb inside until the power is on and the now iconic shape of the Plumen 001 is revealed. This is why we would plump for the black version of this beautiful combo.

Drop Top Lamp Shade (A) Set - BlackAND the drop pendant set comes with a lovely drop cap also, which you can also choose the finish of. Copper? Very big in interiors this season and would set off the black glass shade beautifully. Drop Cap Pendant Set - Copper

Depending on your combination of shade, bulb and drop cap, this complete Plumen set comes in around £100, which really is not a huge amount for a real piece of statement lighting. Only problem is that we certainly will not be finding this in our stockings this Christmas as the pre-orders are being dispatched in February.

But hey ho. We can live with an IOU…

(all images courtesy of Hulger)

brrr. it has got a bit chilly… our top tips for draught exclusion…

There are many causes for feeling a bit chilly in your house. Heat, once produced, should be kept in place, but there is one major enemy of cosiness. The draught.

These are due to inevitable little holes which will still rush through with cold air, taking all your hard earned heat with them. And according to the Energy Saving Trust, draught proofing your house could save you another £55 a year.

Old houses are more prone to draughts than others, but we can guarantee that there will be some in every house. So, what can you do to minimise the draught and really ensure you glow, ready-brek style this winter? Here are some tips to tackle a few key areas –

Windows: wooden window frames twist, expand and contract throughout the year, and degrade if they are unloved and haven’t been painted in a while, so draughts are quite common. Fortunately they are incredibly easy to fix – cheap and quick – using a roll of self adhesive foam excluder. These are available usually in white and brown from all of the DIY sheds for a few pounds a pack, and are simply stuck to the clean edge of the frame. This ensures that the closed window sits against the foam, which, when slightly compressed seals the window nicely. One word of advice – do look at the instructions, as it depends whether you have an inward or outward opening frame and the frame detail as to where the foam should be placed. But really, that is it. Armed with a pair of scissors and some foam rolls you can do the whole house in a couple of hours and for not much money.

A longer term alternative to the self adhesive strips are metal strips for draught exclusion with brushes, which work in a similar way but cost a bit more.

Doors – Key holes are, well, holes into your home, so if you do have a keyhole the best way to draught proof it is to fit a small swing cover on the outside. This looks neat, you can get the covers in all finishes, they cost a few quid and you can fit them in 5 minutes.

The perimeter of the door can be draught proofed in a very similar way to the windows, but the bottom edge of the door is best fitted with a purpose made, metal and brush draught excluder – some of  which are integrated with ‘weather sealers’ to stop the ingress of water. Again, the DIY stores stock all of these very readily. And to be doubly sure, you could add a nice retro sausage dog draught excluder, or similar long, stuffed fabric tube.

Another hole into your house is the letterbox. Now, this is one that cannot be completely sealed as your Postie would not be too pleased, but a simple addition will ensure that the draught is kept well and truly out. A draught exclusion surround with brushes meeting in the middle will allow the post through but keep it nice and snug.

Now these are the most obvious holes, but there are a few which can upset your draught excluding activities.

Chimney – possibly the biggest hole into your house, which runs upwards (and we all know that hot air rises) so plugging is the best option. Now, if you have an open fire or woodburner this is not an option, but if you have an open fire with no fire, the best thing you can do is install a chimney balloon – these inflate up the chimney, sealing the hole. Just DO NOT LIGHT A FIRE and speak to a relevant professional for advice on installing.

Floorboards look lovely, but have you ever wondered why we covered them with carpet? Yep, you guessed it – to eliminate draughts and make it warmer underfoot. But if you prefer timber to carpet what can you do? Fillers are the cheapest option, with silicon based products ensuring a bit of movement tolerance when your floor shifts about – which it will. Different colours are easily available and easy to install.

Loft hatches are the last of our sneaky targets – why insulate your roof only for the warm air to whizz up there via a badly fitting hatch? You could fit a new, snugly fitting hatch which has integrated insulation, or ensure that the gaps all around are filled. Foam strips again guys.

So, you have insulated your home and draught proofed the gaps – all for a cost of just £120 or less. You are warm, and will hopefully stay that way for the winter. And you have saved a stack of money, and energy in the process. An all around winner.

(images via associated links)

Wednesday walls – a hexagon facade…

Regular readers of The Ecospot will know how much of an obsession we have with all things hexagonal. We have written about the lovely hexagon here, here and here and my own watch is the white hexagonal Kisai Spider. So, we are always delighted when we see the joy of hex spreading around a little. These wonderful offices by Format Elf Architekten in Germany are certainly spreading the hexagon about – all around the single storey building in fact.

hexagonal facade

But even though the pattern is delightful, it serves not only as a decorative treatment, but as a solar gain control screen which has been computer generated. The perforated hexagonal facade relates to the natural shading components, ie, the trees, and has larger openings where shade is already existing. Where the facade is more open, the shading perforations have been adjusted accordingly.

This change in the hexagonal facade allows for a gentle ebb and flow of pattern across the building, but in a way which is completely linked to it’s surroundings – not an aesthetic treatment alone.

The choice to use aluminium is also closely linked to the previous activities in the town, which used to house a major aluminium manufacturing plant.

A really lovely example of how design can be aesthetically beautiful and also be contextually driven also – one should not be divorced from the other.

(photo by Bettina Kirmeier)

Monday musings – The Men Who Made Us Spend…

We work as designers. We create new stuff for the world for all sorts of clients with all sorts of budgets in all sorts of styles. However, we work firmly within the ‘green design / eco design / sustainable design’ sphere, which is just where we think everyone should be designing from, regardless of who / what  /where you design. And we get rather incensed by the larger corporations who have the biggest clout and yet, sometimes the lowest regards for responsibility. The bigger you are the harder it can be to create a fully responsible design chain, but it is not impossible.   So it was also rather timely that we noticed the new series on BBC 2, which started last week – ‘The Men Who Made Us Spend’.

the men who made us spend

From the outset, this was – by far – one of the most interesting and engaging programmes to have been produced for a long while that tackled the complicated issues of consumer spending and the psychology of why we want the newest, better thing.

These are issues that designers of all spheres work with on a daily basis, and we all know that not everyone within our industries are working within the sustainability bubbles that we inhabit, but it made compelling watching. The decisions made by industries to include planned obsolescence within their products to promote further purchases, the tricks included in products to keep us – the owners – from getting inside and repairing them ourselves. Even the fact that battery packs on some products are deliberately sealed making a perfectly good product useless (unless you pay a large replacement fee) in as little as 18 months.

Even with product reclamation and material recycling increasing worldwide, the actual psychological and design decisions that are imposed on us are worrying and need changing. An interesting comparison was made with the IKEA ‘chuck out your chintz’ campaign and the fact that they are championing sustainability. It was wonderful watching and we highly recommend looking it up on the BBC iPlayer.

But really, this does show the two faces of products and repair – on one hand we have manufacturers creating products that are deliberately ‘disposable’ and ‘fast fashion’ we have the ground roots backlash of individuals and independent companies such as Sugru, Fixers cafes and designers who are not accepting that this is the way we should be creating. This is the camp that we firmly sit within and I am proud to say that I also sit on the British Standard Committee of  BS8887  – MADE, which relates to Design for Manufacture, Assembly, Disassembly and End of use processing, which sets out guidelines for processes for a more sustainable future…

Which is where we should all be heading.

(image via BBC 2)

Monday musings – the power of fixing…

Regular readers of the Ecospot will know that we have a particular passion for all things fixing orientated – how to fix, ensuring that things can be fixed, hacking things and generally the place of fixing and our throwaway culture in general. We even travel about to talk about fixing… Well, this weekend we both undertook a spot of fixing.

sugru fixing

So –  fixing. The seals on washing machines are rather notorious for splitting over time and sure enough, ours had split and was leaking water – dribbling down the front like a toothing infant, creating a puddle on the floor and reducing the performance of the wash.  Options were – new washing machine (not likely), new seal (impossible to find), new fix. We opted for the latter and at the weekend, our trusted Sugru came out the fridge.

For those of you not familiar with Sugru, it is by far the most wonderous material that we have found in recent years. The small packs of self setting, semi rigid air curing silicone rubber are cheap, easy to use and hugely versatile. Keep it in the fridge and it’s use by date extends to about 18 months (even though they new, longer life Sugru will soon be with us…), open the pack, mould it in place, leave it to cure – done.

It can be used to protect things, to bridge gaps between things, to waterproof things – take a look at their website for images of what people have used it for. The seal on our washing machine needed a bit of extra care – we moulded the shape, then covered the Sugru with cling film (so it would not stick to the door) then closed the door. A couple of days later, door opened, cling removed and the seal is as good as new. Perfect.

This took about five minutes to action, a couple of quid of Sugru and a bit of patience. The resulting fix is not only immensely satisfying, it ensures that the washing machine is not losing any water and consequently will be working better. Good all around we think. And if you ever need reminding, check out this Fixers Manifesto too. Stick it on your wall and get fixing. As Sugru quite rightly says – The Future Needs Fixing.

(image by claire potter)

wednesday walls – stick a bike on your wall…

Ok, ok – we know we were not going to talk about Berlin any more (we can hear you all yawning from here) but for today’s Wednesday walls post, we thought we would just add in one more… Got a wall? Got a bike? Add them together and what have you got? The perfect place for a bike rack that’s what.

bikini berlin wall bike rack

The bike rack in my room was rather lovely – simple, wood, felt, shelf. Perfect. There are now lots of these types of bike shelves on the market now and they provide a great solution for an entrance hall, so long as it is not too narrow.

Or, got a bit of dead space somewhere? Why not put your bike up there instead?

bikini berlin bike

There were bikes dotted about everywhere in Bikini Berlin – and always taking full advantage of the dead space. Hallway ends, large expanses of wall – even on the ventilation pipes as above using a very industrial type of support system.

bikini berlin bike 1

So – when thinking about where to put your bike, think about bringing it inside. It will be more secure and could even become an integral part of your interior…

(photos by claire potter)

Monday musings – this years Chelsea Fringe event announced…

Well, well, well. Where exactly has this year gone? We honestly cannot believe that it is a year since we did our Edible City foraging walk for the Chelsea Fringe festival last year. So – what are we planning on doing this year Another Edible City foraging walk, but this year, we are planning a few little extras, which we will be revealing over the next week or so…

Chelsea Fringe 2014 Flyer merged

Yep. A foraging walk, a free map and even a foraged drink at the end…

Extra details coming very soon…

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)