Flower filled interiors at Sketch, London…

As we have mentioned before, and was shown by our rather ear-splitting blog silence of late, May is ‘one of those months’ for us. It rushes by at the speed of light and it is not till June that we get to take stock and grumble about what we missed. The incredible flower filled interiors at London restaurant, Sketch, were on the list.

Mayfair flower show Sketch lounge interior in London, UK

Coinciding with the Chelsea Flower Show, Sketch invited a selection of floral artists to create site specific pieces in the various spaces open to the public – from the entrance to the egg shaped toilets.

Mayfair flower show Sketch lounge interior in London, UK

With each florist responding not only to the location but using blooms and foliage that can be found in the woodlands and countryside of Britain, the immersive environments created magical temporary spaces for visitors to enjoy.

Mayfair flower show Sketch lounge interior in London, UK

And we missed it. Looking at the coverage on the various design sites, we would have loved to visit and experience the soft dampness and scents that come with large scale installations. Would this have made us calmer? Choose different foods? Stay longer? We will never know.

But this type of interior design links in with biophilic design – where nature is incorporated into our built environment as part of the fabric of the building, not just a fleeting experience. Our own studio is flooded with natural light and features stacks of natural materials and living plants which not only help to filter our air, but give a green lushness to our space. Many people comment on how welcoming the space feels – we would hope it is our friendly studio demeanour and the coffee, but our chum nature has a lot to do with this.

Mayfair flower show Sketch lounge interior in London, UK

So instead of having beautiful, immersive, temporary installations, wouldn’t it be great if this was just a part of the every day interior design and architectural language? If we filled our spaces as readily with living things as we do with furniture?

Would we feel more connected with our environments and would we care for ourselves (and each other) a little more? Quite possibly. We think this is worth a try.

(images of Sketch via Dezeen)

*** REVIEW *** a lovely cream table lamp from First Choice Lighting…

We have a bit of a thing for desk lamps here in the studio. We have amassed a collection of anglepoise lamps from the 60’s onwards that we use daily in the studio and regularly use them in our residential and commercial projects – they are just too nice to be reserved for the office. But sometimes a gentler slant is required, and we were delighted when we were asked to review this cream table lamp by First Choice Lighting.

First Choice Lighting 1

Created by manufacturers Där Lighting, the table lamp has some very lovely components – the hanging vintage enamel style shade and the elephant grey twisted fabric cable sit very well together indeed and offer up a contemporary feel. It fits really nicely with the more eclectic, industrial interior design aesthetic too.

First Choice Lighting 3

We really fell in love with the detailing however – the simple softwood frame features a delicately curved arm reminiscent of a branch, from which the cream shade hangs and rocks gently. Very lovely.

First Choice Lighting 2

So, looking for a feminine table lamp alternative to the anglepoise? This may be one for you.

Available for £69 at First Choice Lighting.

(images by claire potter – butterflybird print by Penelope Kenny, all other items studio own)

hiSbe on tv!

Back in 2013, we were delighted to be involved in the launch of hiSbe, the independent ethical supermarket based in Brighton, where we designed and project managed the build of the store from a desolate space into the bright and friendly supermarket it is now. As clients, Amy and Ruth Anslow, the founders of hiSbe were a dream to work with – great ethics and a real understanding of the importance of brand and communication.

hiSbe exteriorFrom the outset, hiSbe was making waves in the retail sphere, showing people just how food should be done. From self serve dry dispensers, to locally produced meat, fish and produce, hiSbe became the go-to shop in Brighton for good, fair food that does not cost a fortune.

hiSbe dry dispenser

hiSbe has now turned 2, and is still making a huge impact for what they do – like being featured in the first episode of Food Rebels, shown on the Community Channel on Monday alongside the fantastic Brighton based Silo too.

hiSbe store

We are really pleased to see the store continuing to look awesome and providing a great atmosphere for everyone working and shopping there.

Want to see hiSbe in action? watch Food Rebels below…

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 – 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.


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 – a contemporary, secluded home in the forest…

As much as we are urbanites, we have a real hankering for retreats – secluded spaces where life is simpler and needs are more basic. We have a particular love for tiny spaces hidden in the woods – functioning completely off grid and allowing a real get away from everything, but even though we love little place, this gorgeous, secluded home in the forest swayed us a bit.

Situated in the pine forests on the outskirts of Sao Paolo, Brazil, this beautifully contemporary space is actually houses a home, sauna and indoor swimming pool, encased in a minimally clad shell with oversized glazing.

Studio mk27 Mororo House

As the mountainous region that the house sits in gets rather cold in the winter months, the structure has massive amounts of insulation and rooms such as the bedrooms and living spaces are located in the solid block of the building, with the glazed end featuring the swimming pool.

The interior is open plan, with huge floor to ceiling windows both letting in light and connecting to the forest outside, whilst the timber furniture continues this rustic feel.

What we like about this structure is that it is completely unapologetic for it’s mass, with, we think, a very agricultural feel that sits nicely in the location. This does not occur with all secluded dwellings – many revert back to the traditional vernacular style, so we think it is great that this house, by Studio Mk27 is doing something a little different…

(images by Fernando Guerra, via Inhabitat)

the IKEA hacking trend continues…

Creativity comes in many forms, and sometimes it takes a lot to realise that you do not have to design and build everything from scratch. Utilising standard components that you can adjust, hack and amend to suit your exacting needs can often be a cost and time effective decision for a project. We have used this ‘off the peg’ plus ‘bespoke additions’ approach for projects where the budget is very tight with great success – and many other studios are doing the same. And IKEA – with it’s global uniformity and relatively simple modular designs are ripe for using as the bones of a large build.

Over the weekend we spotted this story on Dezeen, where the studio CHA:CAOL used standard IKEA products, such as kitchen cabinetry and wardrobe fittings to create the skeleton for an open plan apartment addition.

With storage integrated under stairs and a simple material palette, the apartment is unified and organised – two elements which sit well with the IKEA ethos.


This is sensible approach – using the readily available and reasonable components as the skeleton can allow you to be more creative with the facing materials, and allow a bit more of a budget to do so as well.

But this kind of hacking is pretty commonplace with individual pieces (as is seen on the IKEA Hackers website, where people show how they have amended pieces of furniture to suit their needs). It is becoming more of a common thing to do this in a design studio too, as more and more designers and architects utilise the utility nature of standardised IKEA pieces.

Another example of an IKEA hack is this temporary bar by Diogo Aguir and Teresa Otto, which was built from the very ubiquitous translucent plastic containers that are piled high in all stores.

So – IKEA hacking is here to stay – with designers and architects as much as it is with everyone else.

(images via Dezeen)

you can find inspiration in everything… a new interior project is taking shape…

We are big fans of the Paul Smith quote, ‘you can find inspiration in everything – and if you can’t look again’ and stick to this in the studio with our work. Looking outside for us often is the answer. How does nature do that, why does nature do that etc. And so we thought we would share a couple of photos which are really inspiring us at the moment with our current projects – and how they have translated from the outside to the inside…

So, a project we are currently designing the interior for is directly opposite Preston Park, and over the last few weeks the wildflower paddock has exploded with colour, which has definitely linked in with the client’s colour choices for the interior…

wildflowers Preston Parkwildflowers interior


But what is worth noting is the difference in colours – each meadow will be different with different tones, so if we were looking at the one below (at Arundel Castle), maybe we would have taken a stronger blue tone with a fresher green?
wildflowers arundel castle 1


Taking a walk and taking a few photos can be a huge help – just remember to see and not just look…

(images by claire potter)

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)

SPOTTED – the Offcut Stool by Harry Hope-Morley…

In the second of our series of SPOTTED from New Designers part 2 last week, we are featuring a great stool by Harry Hope-Morley that is made from smaller components of timber – the Offcut Stool.

Whilst there was a huge amount of furniture being exhibited at ND, much of it (I’m sorry to say) merged in with the next piece and whilst beautifully finished, there was not a huge amount of differentiation from previous years. It felt safe and not forward thinking. But, I was delighted when we turned the corner to see the Offcut Stool – it was well designed, refined, with a good ethical foundation and was different.

With each of the components being created from a far smaller piece of timber than would be the norm in furniture design, the Offcut Stool celebrates these differences completely unapologetically, with each timber being true to it’s natural tones and grains.

The end result is an almost DIY kit form effect, but with a very high finish. It was also easy to see how the stool could be amended to different configurations too, with a bit of a change in components.

We thought it was delightful, and certainly challenged the view of what we perceive as ‘waste’, as the end result does not have the stereotypical view of a product created from waste.

This surely is the point of creating good, ethical new products – we need to use waste materials but reframe them in a way that speaks of their quality, precision and longevity.

Plus, after speaking to Harry at the show, we heard that they will soon be gracing the floor of one of our favourite, ethical restaurants in Brighton… Great news!

(images via Harry Hope-Morley)

Wednesday Walls – the wet wall system by Wall and Deco…

Wallpaper, excuse the pun, still gets a bad rap for being old fashioned and limiting. But, there are many great wallpapers out there which can actually be used in lots of different applications – even in bathrooms, like this fantastic wet system wallpaper by Wall & Deco

This ‘Wet Wall’ System by wall & Deco can be put in the most humid of locations – even in gyms and swimming pools and provides a very interesting alternative to the traditional tiling or cladding systems that we usually see. We are quite taken with this geometric shaped option that is almost scratched into the white washed surface, like traces of graffiti found on the inside of an abandoned industrial building.

This sort of system can also be applied over existing surfaces (so long as they are sound), so could be a good option if you have a bathroom that needs a large expanse of wall covering, but retiling is not an option…

(images via Wall & Deco)

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 – a preview…

Clerkenwell Design Week is upon us once more – beginning today, the annual three day event in the part of London that has the densest population of creative studios, practices and showrooms, per square mile – in the world. Quite something. And each year, these doors are thrown open to all for three days of talks, exhibitions, workshops, launches and parties – for free.

We will be heading up to Clerkenwell on Thursday for a look about, plus we will be on the FIXPERTS stand in the Design Factory between 1-5 (come and say hello!) and then we are off to a very special workshop with the guys at Factorylux (Urban Cottage Industries) – more on that later on in the week, but for those of you not familiar with Clerkenwell, here are our top tips:

1 – Looking for furniture, lighting and product design? First stop has to be The Design Factory located in the Farmiloe Building on 34 St John Street. Not only is the building absolutely stunning (a real 19th century industrial beauty), the variety of work on show is staggering.

2 – want to see the hot off the press new designers in another architectural gem? Check out the House of Detention next, which features interlocking subterranean spaces filled with great design and furniture.

3 – Clerkenwell Conversations is another real highlight of the three day festival, with world class designers, architects and manufacturers – this year talking about everything from public art to the architects insatiable desire to create furniture (ahem). Take a look here for the full programme.

4 – there are multiple showrooms open too, where you can discuss projects directly with the manufacturers, or just have a nose. This year we will be heading to Camira, Interface, The SCIN Gallery and Vitra – for starters…

5 – check out the Fringe too – there are some great event on in the smaller workshops and studios…

And want to whet your appetite? Take a look here at this round up from last year.

(video via Clerkenwell Design Week)

it’s #designmonth on Kickstarter – here are our top picks…

We love Kickstarter. Many a train journey has been spent trawling though the Design category looking at innovative new product and project developments, solving problems that we never knew existed and many that bug us too. We have also backed a few projects ourselves, including The Intrepid Camera, Clickerbelt and The Brand Deck.

And it was with delight that we found out that Kickstarter have launched #designmonth, spotlighting the very new and very interesting of design projects. Because, as we all know, design has the power to change the world in both little and large ways…

So – in celebration of the #designmonth, we have rounded up our pick of five of the best eco designs currently awaiting your backing on Kickstarter…

Thames Baths Lido – a natural floating lido on the River Thames, using filtered Thames water…

SolarPuff – a Unique Little Solar Light – flatpack, solar charged light using origami principles…

the Zero Waste Cap – a snap on adaptor to get the last of your lotion out of a bottle!

Indy Plush – Toys that Donate to Charity – representing animals that are endangered and giving back to help their preservation…

SNAP – design your own furniture – turn anything into a table or sideboard with these innovative snap on legs… (making re-use even easier)

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Get exploring people…

(all projects via Kickstarter)