Friday, 17 December 2010

twinkle twinkle...

Seasonal Shorts 3 - lighting up the season...

There are many things which are synonymous at this time of year. Mulled wine, mince pies, turkey, crackers and trees. Oh, and enough lights to create a spaghetti network of landing strips through all of our streets.
A trip to any of the DIY sheds at this time of year will reveal a myriad of lighting options for your tree, inside your house, outside your house, on your house. Coloured, plain, static, flashing. Mains powered, battery powered, solar powered.

So, what would be our eco choice for lighting?

Well, lets start with outside of the house. I am not a particular fan of trotting reindeer and the like, so we opt for plain and simple lights, placed on our pyracantha. Even though we could get exterior grade lights outside, we have a fantastic set of warm white (slightly yellow rather than blue white which is cold) LED fairy lights from the Solar Centre. They have a few fade or flash settings with a timer and are powered by the small, efficient and easily located solar panel.

If you are partial to an icicle or two, you can also get solar versions of these in varying lengths, again from the Solar Centre - check them out here.

Next, inside. Solar panels are obviously out, but LEDs are in - using vastly less amounts of energy than the usual 'bulb' string types, along with the benefit of being very low temperature - so your vintage handknitted bauble from grannie will not go up in smoke. LED lights used to be the exception in the DIY giants - now they are the norm, with most places stocking a variety of colours and lengths. Or you could check out these guys...

Outside - done. Tree - done. Table? Yep - do not forget about the eco alternatives for your seasonal table.

Candles - you can opt for soy candles, or beeswax candles, or even organic candles such as these. Or you can have more LED lights like these. Or you can have, movable, solar powered lights such as these - charge 'em up outside, then bring 'em in, or use independant, rechargeable lights such as these.

There are so many eco options that we are now spoilt for choice, so whatever colour you choose, have a green, twinkling season!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

decs in the halls...

Seasonal Shorts 2 - the decorations...

Yesterday I wrote about the tree, so it only makes sense that today I talk about what to drape along and onto the boughs.

And this can be a real bone of contention. Some people have the same decorations each year. Some purchase a whole trees worth each year, with a different colour scheme to match 'the in colour' as reported in the glossy lifestyle magazines around November.

Do you purchase plastic ones which will last years and years but will end up being binned when the cat bashes one from the tree and you end up standing on it, usually barefooted, early in the morning before the coffee has taken hold, or do you go for natural decorations which may not last as long but are, well, natural and probably compostable?

But what about vintage glass ones (which I found a whole box of, from the 1940's in a charity shop last week for £1.50) - surely they are better, if not incredibly more breakable, than that modern plastic counterparts?

There are many, many standpoints, and so it goes on.

We have a combination of all of the above, which, in all honestly, is what most people have. The amount of people who do have that 'picture perfect' television chat show style co-ordinated tree are few. Most of us have a few old baubles and decorations inherited from our parents when we set up home, a few newish ones and maybe even a few made each year from pine cones, ivy etc. For me, the best type of tree is the eclectic tree - one with a real personality and history of the people who have lovingly decorated it.

But, if you are going to buy new decorations, I would urge you to consider recycled and natural options. And here are a few of my favourites:

Nigel's Eco Store - recycled glass, cd and circuit board decs.

Ecotopia - Fairtrade, recycled paper mache baubles

Love Eco - how about a British wool taxi cab or a seedy paper bauble?

Plant a Bloomer - yep - more plantable baubles!

Or, why not make some of your own?

Mini-Eco - lovely and simple origami decorations

E-how - a myriad of pine cone ideas...(I would just leave them natural though!)

Or how about some gingerbread wonders? check this out!

So, get decorating!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

back into the Wilderness...

Seasonal shorts number...1 - the tree...

Now we are officially on the countdown to Yule /Christmas, there will be a veritable flurry of blogs - one each day, looking at a whole raft of seasonal greening up. Today is the first - the tree...

I am a big one for tradition, and there is a very seasonal tradition in our lives that is undertaken, each year, usually split between the months of both November and December.

On the first of November (or the closest Sunday to it anyway) we choose it, and in the middle of December, we go and dig it up.

Yep - I have blogged about it before here, and here, and this is the tradition of choosing and subsequently collecting our annual fir tree, which is always, without fail, collected from the truly wonderful Wilderness Wood in Hadlow Down, Sussex.

We always have a Douglas Fir, which has beautifully fine, fluffy and fragrant needles, and we always have Sussex tea and gooseberry conserve and elderflower cordial cake (or ginger cake) when we both choose him and collect him.

If we are feeling extravagant, we also have an organic sausage from the outdoor barbeque.

I love it, and if you are in Sussex you MUST consider doing this next year.

You can read all about the wood (which you can of course visit all year round) here.

Friday, 3 December 2010

to 'critical reclaim'...

Well - we have finally done it.

It has taken an age to do so, and if anything, the snow finally gave us a chance to get to grips with and set up the studio shop.

That's right ladies and gents - we now have our Ebay shop online!

'critical reclaim' will feature all the studio designed bits and pieces, including our limited editions and one off pieces along with the very best in interesting and beautiful reclaimed and salvaged items we find on our travels, from vintage furniture to lighting, industrial stuff to random stuff.

Our teacup bird feeders are online now, (as posted previously) and we will be adding more items over the next few days, so keep your beady eyes open!

Monday, 29 November 2010

you daily eco read...

The wonderous thing about the internet is that you can find so many fantastic eco bits and bobs - news, products, general stuff.

But, the hardest thing is finding time to find it all.

So now you don't have to. We have done it for you.

You can now read the 'claire potter design guide to eco design daily' - our NEW and pretty damn good online paperless paper which rounds up the best eco stories of the day from one of the studio's Twitter lists.

Read it and subscribe for free here...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

teacups now online!

yep folks. it is getting to be THAT time of year once more.

here in Brighton we have already had the city lights up for a while, along with a smattering of trees and 'seasonal decorations.'

I have to admit - I have even started to do my own seasonal shopping...

so, with this in mind, we thought it was about time we got our online shop up and running to make it easier for those of you who like to do your eco shopping from the comfort of your own home.

and the first to be online?

well - our best selling reclaimed teacup birdfeeders...

more to follow soon!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

and if you like that...

as a follow up to our video about White Night (which you can view below), we now have our very own YouTube Channel, where you can see our past videos and a whole series of new ones which we will be working on regularly from now on.

well, if by regular we mean around one a month. sometimes more.

there will be eco bits, stuff of interest and stuff we are doing, so quite a varied bag.

follow this link to get there now - we will let you know when new bits transpire.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Mini Murmuration White Night Brighton 2010

finally - here is the little video we have created for our fleeting White Night Brighton 2010 installation, 'mini murmuration'.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

trains, no planes and many bicycles...

Last week I was very lucky to be invited to attend a series of workshops over two days in the beautiful Delft, with a whole bunch of other eco designers and businesses from the South Coast.

the day started early, which, for a self confessed owl like myself, was a bit of a troublesome affair. very early actually, as we picked up another two-day-tripper en-route to the train station at the grand old
time of 4.40am.


On board the first train to St Pancreas, we departed Brighton at 5.09am, very bleary eyed and in need of coffee.

And so began the first of many connections which would take us via public and self powered transport to Holland.

Next train - the Eurostar to Brussels, which I adore to travel on. Once at Brussels (after a coffee and baguette break) onto the high speed Thalys train to Rotterdam. Then another train from Rotterdam to Delft, (which unfortunately was not one of the amazing double decker trains - brilliant use of space!) where we were met by a smart young gentleman with an ageing racing bike.

Now, I have been to Amsterdam before and know how bikes literally are THE way to get around, but I had completely forgotten how they dominate the road, path and cycleways. They are everywhere. And most are not locked up - just 'located' somewhere where they can be lent on one another like a tangle of wiry dominoes until the owner comes to untangle them and wind their merry way onwards. It was really inspiring, but I cannot help but think what would happen to bikes stacked in such a way in England. They would probably be deemed an ironic health and safety risk and removed for the wellbeing of all. hmmm.

Anyway - as we were not in possession of bikes, all 20 or so of us took our life in our hands and walked from the station to the truly extraordinary Delft University. I am a big fan of highly considered design, and there were many many little details which showed a wonderful attention to small things - like this stairway. In this building the bike store was in the basement, so beside the cast concrete steps was a thin ramp - just big enough to safely and smoothly guide you bike to the depths below without bumping it down the stairs. small yet beautifully considered.

We turned the corner and were confronted with the vast and stunning faculty of Industrial Design. Coming into the building, which was mostly an open space with a variety of mezzanine levels and layers, one of the
first items you see are the individual workstations of the students - each with a desk, small pillar drill and various other tools. It made me think of the pathetic facilities we had at University. No wonder the Dutch design education is so highly regarded - it is because they regard it highly themselves - and it really showed.

A small networking lunch with the other attendees from Holland and France then moved into workshops on Sustainable product design development and Sustainable social marketing practices - both of which were fantastic.

Dinner followed at the faculty - a wonderfully healthy mix of salads, fish and cheeses, washed down with a couple of glasses of red wine (which went straight to my very tired head)

The walk to the hotel was refreshing (if you can call a force 5 gale refreshing) an
d my room was lovely. I had the attic, which had a grand view over the square in Delft, complete with a chiming clock tower.

The next day was pretty much the reverse of the first day, with more workshops at the University before a final lunch and then the long old trip home.

It was a fantastic two days, and I had the privilege to meet some truly grand people (from Holland and France as well as the South) and we are now forging great new relationships, both close and from afar. We hope to be helping two separate businesses from Holland for example - one dealing with city dwellers edibles and another with cargo bikes. Let's hope we can help...

It was tiring, but all good things are, and we hope we can travel back again to learn some more and meet some other eco minded peeps.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

White Night 2010...

I always write too many words in my posts, so before I ramble on, here are the pics of 'Mini Murmuration' - our light installation for White Night, Brighton 2010, which was based on
the roosting dance of the Red listed status starlings that call our beautiful West Pier home...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

white night or white horses....

There are a few things that I find particularly exciting about the design process - the sketching, the thinking, but one of the best elements has to be the learning.

I find it such a wasted opportunity when designers (of any discipline) churn out ideas that have already been seen in another guise - surely we get our kicks from thinking up mad, weird and wonderful ways of doing new and exciting things? Maybe it is just me, but when I design I try and touch the moon - then figure out how I am going to build the damned ladder to do it.

Designing is challenging, and we should challenge ourselves (and our clients) every day.

But sometimes, no matter how much you plan, design, learn and invent, things can merrily gallop into your path, causing you to have a change of plan.

And so it is with our White Night proposal.

I planned for an ethereal, glowing and fluctuating installation, drifting and rocking next to the beautifully skeletal West Pier for White Night 2010 - this coming Saturday night. With the expertise and help of others I learnt about the rise and fall depths of the local tide, the natural drift, how to produce a double anchor system that would work with different wind directions, how to launch the boat, how to retrieve it, what a timed swell is and how it could cause our little boat a huge problem.

I learnt about the fishing boats of Brighton and why there aren't many about, the underlying structure (or lack of it) of the West Pier, and how great a high pressure front is and how nasty a low pressure front can be.

But knowledge can sometimes feel like a bad thing, hence the phrase 'ignorance is bliss'. And when I looked at the extremely complicated weather predictions for the West Pier area yesterday, the bits I had learnt showed me something I didn't want to see. A phone call to the wonderfully helpful and patient experts at the Brighton Seafront Office confirmed my fears.

Saturday night would be great if I wanted to do a bit of surfing at 1.00 am, with a 5ft swell over 12 seconds, but not so favourable for a little 1960's timber dinghy, full of wind generated LED's, next to a large and imposing metal structure.

'mini murmurations' will not float for White Night Brighton 2010.

Instead, she will be located on the beach (well above the high tide mark!) with her rods and LED's wafting in the breeze, albeit from a static base.

But Mother Nature is not to be messed with, and I would rather this than be swimming frantically out to the installation at the ungodly hours of the morning trying to stop it smash into the Pier. My risk assessment is complicated enough thank you.

So there we go - all have agreed that the low pressure looks ominous and even though I am a bit miffed, there is not much I can do. Instead, we will float her on another date when the gods of the sea are having a quiet snooze rather than the planned knees up this weekend.

Best laid plans...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Free Pumpkin Packs Fly...

we were blessed in Brighton to have a wonderfully summery day on Sunday, which made our free pumpkin pack giveaway for 10.10.10 - the global do something day - a much warmer and drier experience than it could have been.

so, donning our vintage style 'ice-cream sellers' tray (which we made from an old mesh bottomed bulb tray) I headed into the centre of Brighton to the very aptly named Gardner Street to begin the giveaway and encourage people to get into their gardens and reduce their food miles.

there were three varieties on offer - Hundredweight, Winter Festival and Marina di Chiogga and very soon the green fingered (and willing converts) were snapping up the free packs, which held two little seeds and a pot saved from our show gardens this year.

within an hour, all 100 packs had gone to new homes - from students to OAP's, families with gardens and 20 somethings with a tiny plot.

and all for free.

so - if you got one of our free packs you can now visit our website to download your free, paperless growing and recipe guide.

and if you didn't nab any free seeds do not despair - you can still download the pdf and make the tasty recipes with your local, seasonal produce available now - try Pumpkin soup, Pumpkin Risotto, Pumpkin and Cobnut Pie and Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Cupcakes (from our chums at the Simple Pleasures Cupcakery).


Thursday, 7 October 2010

10:10:10 - are you doing something this Sunday?

The very observant of you will notice our new little 10:10 Blog logo, which makes a temporary appearance on this post and a permanent appearance on our side bar.

So, what is 10:10? Well, in it's own words:

10:10 is a movement of people, schools, businesses and organisations cutting their carbon by 10% in a year

And we have signed up. We aim to be as eco friendly here at claire potter design as we can, and this is another way we can show our commitment to the global cause. visit the 10:10 website here to sign up and get more info.

PLUS, 10:10:10 (10th October 2010) is the global day of doing, and we will be doing something nice on the streets of Brighton to help people reduce their food miles, grow at home, bake something tasty and with a bit of recycling thrown in.

We will be in the city centre, handing out 100 'Pumpkin Packs' which include FREE mini packs of pumpkin or squash seeds, along with a little plant pot to grown them in next spring (which are left over from our 2010 show gardens).

AND there will be a little temporary page on our website where the lucky recipients can get growing instructions for their pumpkins, along with recipes for their use!

But don't worry - if you don't get a free Pumpkin Pack you can still download our Pumpkin PDF and get the recipes for yourself!

Hopefully see some of you on Sunday! (we will be in the North Laines and the Lanes of Brighton, from around 10am.

Monday, 27 September 2010

do something different in the middle of the night...

We can now announce a few more details about exactly what we will be doing in the middle of the night - more specifically, over the night of 30th October - 31st October...

We are producing this:

This, is to be our sea bound installation for the wonderful White Night Brighton 2010 - 'mini murmuration' and this is what is about.

Responding to the 2010 theme of ‘Illumination’ Claire Potter Design have been commissioned to produce an innovative light installation which will play homage to two icons of the city – the crumbling West Pier and the starlings which call it home.

Over recent years, the West Pier has developed from a skeleton into a living performance, when every night, thousands of starlings mass and whirl in the skies above the structure - known as a murmuration - creating a beautiful dance before they settle to roost. Whilst this dance is beautiful to watch, and has become as iconic as the West Pier itself, many do not realise how important this roosting site is, and how threatened the starlings actually are.

One of the four specially commissioned pieces for White Night Brighton 2010, ‘mini murmuration’ is a light based installation which takes this ‘performance’ as inspiration, and aims to educate viewers as to the threatened status of the birds and the importance of the site.

A sea-based artwork will be created next to the West Pier itself, with around a hundred Mathmos ‘Windlights’ - miniature wind turbine LEDs – glowing and swaying above an old timber boat, creating a fluctuating shape reminiscent of the murmurations of the starlings.

Red LEDs have been chosen to highlight the Red Listed status of the starlings on the RSPB Species of Conservation Concern list, whilst the number of LEDs used (approximately 80 – 100) will highlight the massive numerical decline of the birds. Only a small ‘cloud’ of LED starlings will sway next to the Pier.

We will of course be posting more info on the development of the piece as it is made, but if you want to do something different in the middle of the night, stick the 30th Oct in your diary, and come and say hello.

Friday, 10 September 2010

underfloor heating Tubes...

It is quite ironic that I found this little posting via Inhabitat when our own Underground system is currently completely un-operational due to strikes, but hey ho.

With the energy crisis growing each day, it is wastefullness that many think should be tackled as a priority. If it is a crime to carbon pollute then surely it is more of a crime to waste a by-product of that very carbon useage? Shouldn't we be demanding the very best value for our (carbon) pound?

And for those of you who have ever travelled on the Underground in London, there is a shocking amount of waste energy floating about the air around all us. Some is generated by the trains, some by our very own bods as we sardine squeeze ourself into the cans on rails.


Yep - have you ever thought as you sweat and puff around the tube how that heat could be used? Well, me neither, but fortunately, some clever bods in Paris have.

It was been calculated that every person entering the Metro emits around 100 watts of energy in body heat, which, when added to the heat generated by the trains themselves adds up to a lot of warmth.

So, this heat is to be harnessed to heat 17 apartments in a block above ground which is currently undergoing an eco transformation - directly above the Metro.

Brilliant. A huge ground source heat pump. sort of. But still brilliant.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Micro chic, eco style!!!

Just a little link really - here is the fantastic article that has just been published in the September edition of the Wealden Times - all about our wee house - Farrier Cottage.


Monday, 6 September 2010

staycation memoirs...

just like a holiday, we blinked and it was over - but we are delighted to announce that our studio staycation was a great success!

over the five open days we spoke to nearly 100 different people, who had a variety of queries from which herbs to plant on a semi-shady balcony to what types of natural insulation are available.

we helped people with natural rubber flooring, colour selection and clematis species.

we had a blast.

so much so, that we are planning on starting a new 'free friday' scheme in Brighton - setting up free design clinics an a variety of locations, one every two months, to help whoever wants to come and say hi!

further details will follow, but thank you to all of our visitors at our very first 'staycation'...

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

postcards from the staycation...

busy, busy, one - advice given on herbs for a semi-shade bal
cony, the use of social media and a whole house interior scheme.

more to come, so here are a few pics of our reclaimed space...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

studio staycation (part 2...)

ooh - we have now got our flyer for our staycation sorted - click for a bigger pic!
ps - we have just added the back, which is useful - showing how to find us!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

pop-up studio 'staycation'...

we are not going on holiday this year.

instead, we are decamping from our base in Portslade and creating an eclectic little pop-up studio in Brighton - offering free advice to all visitors for one week only!

situated in a unit in the Brighton Open Market in London Road, the temporary studio will be made from a whole load of reclaimed and recycled bits and pieces and will be our part of the residency with the wonderful compARTment group.

private or business, large or small, pop along and say hello and pick our brains, or send us an email ( to pre-book your ***free*** consultation with one of the team...

(Tues 24th - Sat 28th August, about 10 - 5 ish every day...)

Friday, 6 August 2010

and they dined by the light of a comet?

As the nights begin to draw in, but the temperature remains comfortable, exterior lighting is a must for the outdoor eating experience.

There are of course a huge amount of light sources suitable, from solar powered to low energy, but these are possibly some of the most beautiful.

Inspired by, and named after the Halley comet, the LED lighting system by Jordi Vilardell and Meritxell Vidal for Vibia is portable, connectable and beautiful - coming in three different configurations to fit any possible illumination project.

wonderful stuff...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

compARTment launches in Brighton...

It is typical. With all of the drought inducing spells we have had of late you can guarantee that if you wish for a glimmer of sunshine, the clouds will gather.

And so it was with a sigh I opened by blinds on Saturday morning to be confronted by a very Brighton-esque fine drizzle wafting in from the sea.

So why was I longing for the sun? Well, sunshine = people in the city, and today was the long awaited for launch of the compARTment project in the Open Market, London Road, Brighton. After all of the hard work, graft and passion of all those involved, it would really have been a shame for a bit of precipitation to dampen everyones spirits.

But we are a hardy old lot in Brighton, so we donned our macs and headed down to the Open Market to visit the Artist's Market, watch live graffiti, listen to live DJ's and ukuleles and see an installation made from elastic.

Despite the drizzle (which soon passed) there was a distinct buzz to the market, with the rumble of voices and beats audible over the buses and shoppers.

Turning the corner to the south side of the market, stalls 38 and 39 became visible...

One unit houses the elastic installation by compARTment member and co-founder Nic Blair, whilst the other unit featured the first of regular artist / makers markets. It was wonderful.

visit the compARTment website for more details on what is to come at the units over the next few months (including our very own studio staycation at the end of August...)

Monday, 2 August 2010

sexy stumps to seats...

we love a good bit of upcycling here in the claire potter design studio, and we were delighted when we 'stumpled' (ho ho) over these very delicious stools.

made by Ubico Studio, the 'oli' stool is part of the 'stump' series which are all constructed from the small sections of offcut timber discarded by local carpenters.

good eh? what makes the product even better is that Ubico have passed some of the production onto a factory project which employs disabled workers - thus creating the stool into a socially involved piece of furniture.


and we particularly love the industrial strap which bands the piece. very tasty indeed.

Friday, 30 July 2010

an evening at the Greenpower Centre...

Those of you who follow the studio on twitter would have seen a few tweets about a very nice event we attended last week.

Well, as things have been a little hectic this week (more news on this week to follow) we have only just got round to retelling the evening.

Organised by the wonderful South Coast Design Forum, this evening was affectionately called the 'summer do' and was an excuse to meet up in a brand new 'eco' location, eat some snacks, drink some wine and have a good old chinwag.

It was a very lovely evening.

First off we had a little tour of the building, which was built by Fordingbridge on their site as a showcase building to show clients their work, and has been rented on very reasonable terms to local engineering charity, Greenpower.

With a myriad of green technologies, the building functions as both an excellent and beautiful example of sustainable architecture.

Rainwater harvesting, passive solar gain and solar control canopies and external blinds feature on the exterior of the locally sourced glulam timber building, along with the simplest of green roofs I have ever seen. Awash with wildflowers and a few, erm, weeds, we were informed that the waste soil from the project was, well, plonked back on top of the roof with a scattering of seeds. However low-tech, it seems to be working very well indeed, and I will be very interested to see how the strip of pumpkins develop into the autumn...

Inside, the large thermal mass of the concrete foundation and floor helps to regulate temperature very simply, whilst a ultra high tech lighting system (with no wall switches) turns lighting on and off relative to the outside light levels and where you are in the building. Clever stuff.

A ceiling mounted electrical rig allows for a flexible working environment, and a separate mezzanine level is accessed via this truly beautiful bamboo staircase.

A wonderful evening in an inspirational building.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

white night Brighton 2010...

a very quick post - we are very excited in the studio as we have been selected to produce an installation for the forthcoming White Night Brighton on 30 Oct 2010...

more details to follow (once we have stopped jumping about).

expect wind powered LED's, patterns of nature and an old boat...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

taxidermy illuminations...

One good thing about the web is the myriad of items you will find, from imaginative minds across the world, every single day.

Yesterday, I found these fantastic lights. Even though they bordered on the very macabre, I was completely enthralled by them:

Found via Inhabitat, these lamps and lights are made by bespoke lighting designer Alex Randall from (already deceased) stuffed animals, which appear to be carrying the lights in their hands or beaks.

Harking back to the Victorian obsession with the collection and cataloguing of the natural world, the lamps feature squirrels, ducks and pigeons.

En masse, they look quite spectacular, if not a tiny bit unsettling.

Randall talks about the beauty of the animals we treat with such disdain, and how this beauty should be both recognised and celebrated.

so, we are looking forward to the possibility of seagull streetlamps illuminating the roads of Brighton?

Friday, 16 July 2010

giving paint a newlife...

I love my job.

I get to meet some really interesting people and specify some fantastic stuff to create some brilliant spaces. Wednesday was no exception as I had a mid week jaunt to the base of a very interesting paint company.

Many of you would have seen me (or heard me) talking about organic, low VOC, natural etc paint, but I have never talked about, or indeed found, recycled paint.

Not quite an alien concept as it sounds, there are groups which collect the waste remnants of paint that have been taken to recycling points at refuse collection sites across the UK and pass them onto charities through various community repaint projects.
But even with these sterling efforts, approximately 50 million litres of paint end up in landfill every year.
They take all the recycled paints in (via the aforementioned recycling points), stack the cans into colour batches, then remix them in large blue containers to create a whole new batch of paint. This is then filtered, processed and repackaged for use as brand new paint.

As well as their standard 20 colours, they are also able to colour match paint to the customers requirements - all using paint which would otherwise be festering in landfill.

We think they are doing a sterling job with a real problem waste product - this really is upcycling at its best!

go check them out here...
STOP PRESS....... Just heard from Amy that Newlife Paints were awarded the Best Recycled Product 2010 at yesterdays National Recycling Awards - Well done Newlife!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

compARTments and MESH...

After my little sneaky peek post yesterday and my telling off for being soooo unfair, I have decided to reveal a little more about what we are doing and have done recently in the studio. It is not ground breaking, but we have been and continue to be excited by the below. Hopefully you will too...

First up - the University of Sussex Product Design Degree Show - you may remember from a couple of posts ago that we had made, and were sponsoring an award and were hot footing it up to Falmer to bestow the 'best eco design' award onto one of the very deserving students.

Well, the winner we selected was Kerry Norwood for her project MESH (Major Emergency Sustainable Housing). This is a truly worthy 'eco' project in so many ways. Using readily available metal sections and mesh sheets, Kerry designed a modular house kit which can be fitted, in multiples, into a standard sized shipping container.

Created for use in sudden emergency situations, the MESH unit can be put together quickly and simply, with the addition of an internal plastic sheet ensuring that the house is weatherproof. The gabion like walls begin empty, but are designed to be filled with the rubble and detritus of the collapsed homes, allowing a new life to be literally built from the remnants of the old.

Its humanitarian and aid advantages are obvious, but it was the beautifully simple eloquence of the 'rebuilding' aspect which I particularly loved. To give someone the chance to help themselves - a new purpose in the chaos - is strikingly powerful.

Kerry is now deciding how to take this project forward, so I will post a little more (including some images) as soon as I am able.

Next - compARTment.

Over the past two weeks, we have become involved in a very exciting project in Brighton, with the compARTment team - a group of makers, designers and artists who are committed to rejuvenating the empty spaces around the city.

The pilot project is utilising two empty units in the soon-to-be-redeveloped Open Market in Brighton - filling them temporarily with a series of art installations, exhibitions and pop up spaces. Running from now until September or October this year, it is hoped that the varied activities will increase the footfall to the market, supporting the remaining stallholders.

We have become involved in the project in a few capacities - helping with some of the set up organisation bits, possibly designing some spaces for other people and actually creating a couple of installations ourselves.

Heard of pop-up shops? Well, we are going to have a pop-up studio - creating an exciting little space to call home for a week, where the good people of Brighton can come and say hello and talk to us about more exciting little (or large) spaces.

So there you go - two little things that we have done and are doing - both of which will be filled out with more info over the next few weeks!

And the solar and wind powered installations? Well, I am afraid that is one for next week. I haven't drawn them up yet.

Monday, 12 July 2010

watch this (previously empty) space...

we have been away, but like Arnie, we are back and with a lot to tell...

some bits are still embargoed, but there will be news VERY soon about a couple of very interesting little projects we are currently involved in.

empty spaces? pop up shops and exhibitions? temporary installations? solar and wind powered lighting creations?

coming soon to an empty space in Brighton soon...

Monday, 21 June 2010

that was the week that was...

Last week was pretty hectic here in the studio. there were a series of deadlines, a juggling of projects, an award to be awarded and two out-of-the-office trips.
It started relatively calmly, creating the outline concept for a new urban front garden for a gentleman on the sunny south coast. minimalist, lots of hedges and a variety of textural grasses and clipped forms. At the end of my scribbling I realised that it looked just like a screenshot from that good old '90's wonder, Tetras. I liked it very much. Fortunately, so did our client, so we are now pressing on with constructional drawings.

Next, we had to make an award. Not to go on our shelf you understand, but to be awarded to a graduate on the University of Sussex Product Design degree show - to the person, who, in our humble opinion could wear the badge of 'Best Eco Design 2010'.
We looked around the studio and found some bits and bobs and assembled this:

Made from recycled plastic with bank notes in, a hugely water damaged book, some screws and threaded rod and an old set of printers blocks. We were quite pleased with the finished effort.

So we then had to decide who was going to receive our assembled award, so I trundled up to the Falmer site of the University of Sussex to view the Innovate 2010 show.

I was blown away. The quality and range of projects was truly excellent and after much umming and aarhing I whittled it down to four very notable eco designs. And after even more umming I finally selected the winner.......(to be continued...)

Thursday found me whizzing up to Birmingham where the ever eclectic Gardeners' World Live show was squeezed into the stale halls and concrete expanses of the NEC, which has to be one of the most depressing places in all of the UK.

Once I had parked my car (to the tune of £8) and reminded myself that I was not in some technicolour 80's theme park I started to enjoy the show.

I loved the Girl Guides garden - there was something about the repetitional structure of the quote sticks against the waft of the wildflowers which particularly drew me in. Other lovelies included the rose Re-Bound garden by Andy Tudbury where I was allowed to sit on the pristine white bench and take in the scent that was captured in the space. The dappled shade on the hedges was lovely and the lawn was so flat you could have ironed a perfect crease on your trousers using it as a base.
I also caught up with Tom and Malcolm at Hooksgreen Herbs, and I was over the moon to hear that they were given a Gold medal for their exhibit. I was chuffed to bits for them and got a very stern look from the BBC film crew when I squealed with delight at the news.

Inside the sheds I found the fantastic James Alexander-Sinclair, who was working harder than a donkey on Blackpool beach in summer in the darkest corner of the NEC you could possibly find. Not the most inspiring of places, but James was lighting up the bleakness with his bright and sharp wit so no head torches were required.
After battling my way out of the car park I rumbled diagonally down the country to the lovely little market town of Bromyard where I was staying for the night before my Friday at the Three Counties Show.

The little sections I did see of Bromyard were lovely, which included my lovely little room in the beautiful Bay Horse pub on the High Street. A stunning oak beamed 16th C coach house, The Bay Horse was so full of character you could make a fortune bottling it and selling it to tourists. Everything was wonky, crittall windows creaked in the sun and it oozed history. Coffee in hand, I sat down and watched Gareth at Glyndebourne (which took me back a few years to when I was at music college) and relaxed for the first time in an age.

Breakfast was excellent, with a no-fuss vegetarian option and nice toast in a beautiful section of the dining room downstairs. Thank you to all of the Bay Horse - I can highly recommend it for a stay if you are around those parts...

A mini rally drive down to Malvern and I was at my second home, the Three Counties Showground for the Three Counties Show in watery sunshine.

I headed straight for our 25th Anniversary Garden, which had been developing over the last 5 weeks since it's first outing at the Spring Show. Like a proud mother hen, I clucked around the space, smiling at how lovely the Stipa tenuissima looked, how the fennel had developed into smokey bronze clouds and how the spots of alliums drew the eyes from one section of the garden to another.

Today, Monday the 21st June, it will be dismantled forever.

But, that is what happens with showgardens, they are fleeting.

After taking far too many photos, I wandered around the show with a massive handwoven willow dragonfly I had bought as a Father's Day present for my Dad and eventually met up with the beautiful and fabulous Nina Acton and the very lovely Mark Diacono who I had met a bit before. We all continued around the show, tasting some lovely beer, talking about yellow courgettes and buying more huge dragonflies made from willow. It was grand.

The drizzle signalled my departure from Worcestershire and after shoehorning the dragonflies into the car I whizzed back down south, with a brief delay on the ever predictable and accident laden M25.

What a week.