Wednesday, 1 June 2011


hello one and all!!!

If you are here, then you should come and say hello to us in our new home here where we will be living from now on.

look forward to seeing you soon!

Monday, 4 April 2011

striking an Accord part 2...

A couple of posts ago we had a week of events and visits which was very nice indeed. One of these visits was to the first ever UK Town Hall meet up of the Designers Accord, run with the assistance of the University of Brighton and the Sustainable Design MA students.

So - what actually is the Designers Accord?

well - as quoted on the main Designers Accord website, here is the foundation of the group:

In late June 2007, the Designers Accord was founded with the goal of changing the way the creative community does business. Designers, educators, and business leaders adopted a “Kyoto Treaty” of design (later renamed the Designers Accord) that specified a particular ethos and behavior around sustainable design. The underlying philosophy of this agreement was that by collectively building our intelligence around issues of climate change and humanitarian issues – and tackling those challenges with optimism and creativity – we would catalyze innovative and sustainable problem solving throughout the creative community.

Makes perfect sense to me. As a fully committed subscriber to the 'sustainability in design is the only was forward' movement, this is what I live and breathe. This is why I design and how I design.

Since that time, the Designers Accord has grown massively, with individuals committing to becoming a supporter, organisations committing to becoming and endorser and design firms committing to becoming Adopters. After seeing first hand the energy passed around the group at the first UK meeting, I was keen to sign up the studio to the Designers Accord as an official Adopter. And I am glad to say that we were approved.

So what exactly have we adopted? Well - we have committed to follow the follow Designers Code:

Guidelines for Design Firm Adopters

  1. Publicly declare participation in the Designers Accord.

  2. Initiate a dialogue about environmental and social impact and sustainable alternatives with each and every client. Rework client contracts to favor environmentally and socially responsible design and work processes. Provide strategic and material alternatives for sustainable design

  3. Undertake a program to educate your teams about sustainability and sustainable design

  4. Consider your ethical footprint. Understand the environmental impact of your firm, and work to measure, manage, and reduce it on an annual basis.

  5. Advance the understanding of environmental and social issues from a design perspective by actively contributing to the communal knowledge base for sustainable design.

This is what we try and do at all times, and have done since the inception of the practice in 2008, that is, all apart from number one, which is what we are starting here.

you can view our official adopters listing here along with the other adopters around the world.

As an individual our influence can be small, but as a collective, the possibilities are endless.

Watch this space for further news on the Brighton group and our other Designers Accord activities...

Monday, 28 March 2011

there will be blue cabinets over the white cliffs of Dover...

Yet another busy week in the studio. A week of sourcing old bits of furniture, 100% recycled paint, lumping about reclaimed scaffold boards and putting them all together to form something new.

A true exercise in upcycling.

And why? Well we were commissioned by BSK CiC to produce a new from old statement piece of furniture for their new eco Build 4 demonstration centre in Dover and we were very keen to explore the possibilities of utilising old stuff.

So after a week of jiggling, chopping, adjusting, filling, drilling, painting, varnishing, wire brushing and sanding we went from this:

through this:

to this... our 4m long, upcycled cabinet...

we were really pleased with the result, and are now taking further commissions for similar, reinvented and upcycled furniture!

The cabinet will stay at the centre for the next two years as a showcase for upcycling to compliment the other sustainable building methods on show.

So no bluebirds over the cliffs, but we have made a blue cabinet instead and an eco one at that.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

striking an Accord...

Last week was another of those busy ones in the studio.

Lots of projects on and a couple of events to attend to boot. We were exhausted but it was great fun.

First up on the events front was the Brighton and
Hove 10:10 first birthday party at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton. It was great to meet up properly with all of the other Brighton and Hove businesses who have signed up to the campaign - from people that I know well to people that I have never met before.

We had a glass of bubbly and chatted, then wandered into the theatre and listened to a series of inspirational speakers about their own actions over the past year in the campaign and what they are planning for 2011 - just because it is called 10:10 doesn't mean that you stop in 2011!

For those of you not sure what 10:10 is - check out the main website here, and the Brighton and Hove campaign website here (and Brighton and Hove were the first 10:10 city!!!).

Brighton and Hove has been described as 'by far and away the most determined and dedicated... we are using the examples of Brighton as the model for other cities ' by Eugenie Harvey - the 10:10 national campaign's international director - so we were pretty chuffed!

Next up on the event front was the FIRST EVER UK meeting of Designers Accord - situated at the University of Brighton. Now many of you will be aware of the 10:10 campaign, but not many of you will be aware of the Designers Accord....

To sum it up nicely, the Designers Accord is:
'the Designers Accord is a global coalition of designers, educators, and business leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact'

After finding about the Designers Accord and making sure we were going to be there, I did a bit of reading up and realised that the DA guidelines for design firms are what we do here - and stuff that we are passionate about. And so I am very proud to say that we have now become a proper design firm adopter of the code. But more of this in another post...

The night was great - fantastic mini lectures from MA students in Sustainable Design to visiting lecturers from London and further afield...

We had some snacks and then broke into five or so groups to fully discuss sustainability issues - what we felt was the most important to us, and how we can implement a change.

It truly was another inspirational night, and one that will not end here - hopefully we will be involved in more DA Brighton events, including an action group....

Monday, 7 March 2011

Delft green...

As you may remember dear readers, I was one of a very lucky few who were whisked off to Delft last November for the wonderful EcoMind conferences where like minded individuals congregated on the Engineering and Design department of TU Delft for two days and investigated the advancements of eco technology and business. It was wonderful.

And now TU Delft has got another beautifully green feather to their well designed cap - a stunning green roof to the library.

It is well documented that the benefits of green roof systems are multi faceted - from increasing the local biodiversity to the extremely effective heat regulation of the building below. Water can be harvested and indeed, slowed right down, which aids the reduction in sudden flash flooding - a very large problem in cities where surfaces are not permeable.

Plus, they look wonderful, but most can only be appreciated from the bird's eye view, and this is also what is lovely about the TU Delft library roof - it is inclined so as to become an artificial hill in a land of flatness, and a meeting and recreation space for locals - something which can be rare for green roof systems generally.

And as well as being a fantastic example of an architectural feature which is yet to be fully explored, it would make a cracking snowboard jump...(add a few rails and I would be in heaven...)

(story and images via inhabitat)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

the truest ever Farm Shop...?

In January I spoke about my predicted trends for 2011, and I mentioned that urban farming was still looming on the horizon, but was probably not quite here just yet.

Well, I hope to be proven wrong this year by eco design trio Something and Sons when they fully launch their FARM:shop in Dalston, London.

The concept is simple - produce as much food as you can, by farming within the confines of the shop. But as you can imagine, this is far from simple and requires a great deal of advanced technological expertise to support the basic farming techniques.

But I love the concept - Aquaponic micro fish farming (where the waste water feeds into the tomatoes), a polytunnel and indoor allotment. A rooftop chicken coop ensures that foxes are kept at bay, and the happy (and hopefully partially sheltered) chickens will provide eggs for the shop below.

We have all seen a myriad of urban farming renderings, with the skylines of our cities paved over with crops, or huge multi-layered skyscrapers filled with levels of agriculture, but not many have got very close to (pardon the pun) actual fruition, so it will be very interesting to see how the FARM:shop concept actually works in real time, and how it could be replicated to our own high streets.

Would it just be too small, or would it just cater for a niche market (like fresh tilapia and pots of specialist herbs) or, as was pointed out quite aptly on the latest edition of The People's Supermarket, have we just become conditioned to thinking that rafter packed supermarkets and lines and lines of choice (and therefore waste) are what we want to consume?

I tend to agree with the latter - I would rather wander into a shop and see what is there, in season and looking good rather than going with a mind of preconceived recipes and a list to match.

Oh, and I love the slogan for Something and Son - Between us we know enough about everything to have a go at (almost) anything.

I quite agree, and we try and work the same way.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Daring decadence…

For those of you who are not aware, I also write a few blog posts for the excellent Brighton Collective Blog on retail interior design in Brighton, and here is a copy of my Valentine's Day post - on the most decadent and Brightonish chocolate shop you could ever imagine...

Luxury and decadence can come in many forms, from the pristine white of lead crystal and linen sheets to the opulence and colour saturation of jewels and tropical flowers. Of course, each person’s ideal of decadence will vary from the next, but I think that most will agree that the craft and deliciousness of the artisan chocolate falls lushly into this category. And at this particularly romantic time of the year, what could be better than combining the two – true decadence of the eyes and the taste buds.

Choccywoccydoodah in Duke Street, Brighton solidifies my own ideas of decadence in a way which borders on the fantastical, with constantly changing and awe inspiring front windows reminiscent of my childhood visits to the beautifully crafted Father Christmas grotto in Hanningtons.

The skills of the chocolatiers are proudly displayed to the world with giant sculptures, hand painted birds and flowers and pretty much life size skulls, shaded with perfection. The front window is wonderfully framed by the deepest of blacks, which ensures that the glorious colours glow from within the display, and is offset by traditional sign written script in a lush blood red.

This red continues into the womb like interior walls of the store, where clinical stacks of chocolate are banished in favour of mounds balanced on vintage cabinets, lit by cut glass chandeliers and reflected in opulent gilt mirrors. It feels like walking into a scene from a Tim Burton film – you are enclosed by the blood red and each glance reveals yet more wonders from the last. It is all beautiful, with a touch of eccentric madness, akin to the wondrous sculptures in the window which entice you in like the witch in the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel .

Flocks of chocolate birds rest on vintage china and reclaimed timber boxes contain more edible creations, shining like golden doubloons in a pirate treasure chest. Truffles glisten from within a stunning glass fronted cabinet, which doubles up as the serving desk and bunches of heart shaped chocolate lollies dangle from hooks like prizes in a funfair.

And a funfair is exactly what the interior is – a treat laced with a little edginess – the sauciness and naughtyness of a beautiful tattoo laden woman, with bright red lipstick, black flicked eyeliner and fishnet stockings. Hearts and flowers, skulls and birds.

So if the chocolate doesn’t get you in the Valentines mood, the interior most definitely will.

Choccywoccydoodah -

24 Duke Street, Brighton

Open 10-6 Mon-Sat and 11-5 Sunday

Monday, 31 January 2011

chocolate, beetroot and raspberry cake...

the last of the January posts, in true spirit of the studio, is to ditch the diet and eat vegetable cake.

so - as promised for an age - here is the ecospot chocolate, beetroot and raspberry cake recipe...

350g beetroots (weighed before grating!)
2 large (organic and free range) eggs
150g golden caster sugar
125ml vegetable oil
200g self raising flour
35g cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

homemade or a good quality raspberry jam

125g butter
125g icing sugar
1 tbsp raspberry jam (or natural raspberry extract)
natural pink food colouring (usually made from concentrated beetroot as well!)

make it:
preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4.
peel and grate the beetroots and place in a colander to drain.
place the oil, eggs and sugar into a large bowl and mix thoroughly until light and fluffy.
add the flour, cocoa, bicarb and baking powder and mix again until combined.
the mixture will look rather scant and thick at this point - do not worry - now add the grated (and drained) beetroot and mix to create a lovely, gloopy and combined cake batter.
(variation - you can add some spices as well if you like - chilli goes quite nice... add 1tsp cayenne or similar, or to taste)

bake it:
place into two non-stick loose bottomed 8 - 9 inch round cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 30 mins. (or place into muffin cases and bake for around 24 mins)

assemble it:
when done, remove from oven and let the cakes cool on a wire rack.
when completely cooled, sandwich the two rounds together with a nice layer of raspberry jam and sit to one side.
make the icing by combining the sifted and lump free icing sugar with the softened butter until smooth.
stir in the raspberry jam (or if using, 1tsp natural raspberry extract) and add drops of natural pink food colouring to the icing - mixing until your desired shade of pink is achieved.
cover the top of the cake with the icing and sprinkle on any other decorations (we usually add little chocolate stars or dried raspberry pieces)

EAT! safe in the knowledge you are not eating cake, you are eating vegetables...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

the people's supermarket...

Staying with the foodie theme from my last post, I thought I would talk a little about what could be the future of shopping.

Independant shops? Hopefully. Farmers Markets? I should hope so. Growing your own? Practical for some, but not others. Urban farms? They are coming, but not just yet.

So, what could be the immediate future from our food shopping experiences?


Yep. You heard me right. Supermarkets, but not as we know it.

We have become conditioned to shop for everything at one place - cramming our little cages on wheels with essentials every week before we drive home to consume (or throw away...but that is another post). The supermarket is just the way most of us do our shopping. Fact.

Even though many of us try to grow our own, support our local producers and frequent our farmers markets, many of us still use the supermarket model as our main shopping experience.

So if you can't beat the supermarkets, why not join them.

And this is what a few enterprising souls have begun.

Park Slope in New York is a 25yr old co-operative with around 6000 members, who give up 2hrs 45mins per month to work in the supermarket (cashier, cleaner, shelf replenishment etc) in return for wonderfully sourced, local, often organic produce at hugely reduced rates. With (little) wages to pay, the community are actively pocketing the mark-up savings in the lower prices available. If you do not do your shift, you have to make up with double the time next shift, and if you continue to flaunt the rules, sorry, you are out.

This can sound a little harsh, but this kind of model can ONLY work with full communication and trust between all members. Sounds great to me.

It also looked great to Arthur Potts Dawson (who also set up the London eco restaurant Acorn House), who has taken this seed idea and translated it into London's first version of the American model, in Holborn, called The People's Supermarket.

The basic premise is the same - pay your £25 membership, sign up to your 4 hour shift and you are a member - AND part owner - of the People's Supermarket. This entitles you to hugely reduced core produce (large lovely loaf £1.85 to 'regular' shoppers, £1 to members) and 10% reduction on your overall bill.

But being a part owner of the supermarket also means that you are entitled to a say in what is stocked, where from, and how the whole kit and caboodle is run. An ideal situation really - cheaper stuff, a nod to the 'big society' and a say in keeping that local raspberry yoghurt you have come to love as well as the larger decisions.

Not everyone will like the idea of working four hours to qualify for the benefits, but (having worked for a big supermarket to pay my way through university) it can be fun.

And in a time of gloom, surely a few more pennies in the bank, a few more local bits in your belly and a few new friends in your phone can only be a good thing?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hugh's Fish Fight...

I tend to not watch much TV - usually too busy to watch things live so catch up via iplayer / 4OD and the like, but on occasions, I do pencil in some goggle box time for things I feel passionate about.

And this is why I spent 9-10 last night watching Hugh's Fish Fight on channel 4.

Even though I know about the EU fish allocation system and the 'discard' element, it was very, very hard watching indeed. The sheer amount of perfectly good fish thrown, dead, overboard from our fishing fleet was absolutely disgusting. The poor fishermen were understandably upset - seeing all that food (and money) wash back into the sea due to a ridiculous EU law is truly maddening.

The allocation system was created to help preserve fish stocks and ensure that over fishing does not take place. On the face? Well, sounds good. But whilst watching, it became brutally obvious that this system purely does not work. If anything, it will compound the issue it seeks to resolve.

How? Well, each species has a certain 'catch' allocation which fishermen are legally not allowed to go over, so, if you catch all your cod allocation in a couple of net castings then sorry, any other cod has to go back into the sea - it cannot be landed. But fishermen need to make money, so they continue to fish to fulfil their other species allocation to make a wage. If the next nets hold 90% cod and only 10% say, monkfish, guess what? Yep, the cod go back - dead. And the nets are cast again to try and catch more of the still vacant allocation species, usually with similar results. How can this be preserving fish stocks?

So what is the answer? Many fishermen suggested an allocation free system, where they are legally limited by the TIME they are out rather than the kg of each species. Whatever the answer is, Hugh's campaign needs our help to try and convince the Government to act to change this ludicrous system, so either click on the fishy film clip on the side, or visit and sign up.