Summer bliss at Bedruthan

family_0000_mawgan-porth_large I live in a city, I love the city, but I am not of the city, and I often crave the fresh air and distant horizons of the coast.  So our second annual summer trip to Bedruthan Hotel and Spa with the in-laws was eagerly awaited.  I first heard about the Bedruthan Hotel from Richard Hammond, then editor of the Green Hotelier, now founder and CEO of, when I worked at the International Tourism Partnership, and now, with two young children, I match the hotel’s demographic perfectly.

bed1Bedruthan hotel is perched above Mawgan Porth, a spectacular horseshoe-shaped bay between Newquay and Padstow on Cornwall’s north coast, in the midst of a natural playground.  Our ‘villa’ room, with a children’s bunk room and completely seperate adult king-sized room, had full length windows opening on to a small terrace and then looking out across the bay over the children’s outdoor play area (pictured right).  We could recline on the sun lounger and watch our kids scrabble around the pirate ship, tackle the obstacle course, or the trampoline.  The hotel rooms are in the midst of a refurbishment programme with bright, fresh decor that inevitably takes quite a bashing from younger guests.  The soap and shampoo bars are handmade in Cornwall.  The views are breath-taking, whatever time of day and whatever the weather.

We were blessed with sunshine, so we spent long days at the beach searching rock pools, building castles and wave-jumping.  For £6 a day, we hired a foam surf-board down at the beach and the girls loved their first ‘surfing’ experience.  Older kids were enjoying lessons with Nick, Bedruthan’s resident surf instructor.  I enjoyed swimming out the back of the surf under the watchful gaze of the RNLI lifeguards that man the beach daily from 10am-6pm.  If the swell was too choppy to swim, then a run along the 704%2F1021%2FCarnewas+Joe+Cornish+940x529_thumb_460x0%2C0coast path definitely got my heart rate up.  The first part of my run was a steep climb, but once on the cliff top the bright yellow gorse, brilliant warm hues of the heather and other wildflowers certainly took my mind off the effort.  I ran the couple of miles to Bedruthan Steps, huge rock stacks along Bedruthan beach below the Carnewas National Trust site.  At one time, iron, copper and lead was mined from the cliffs, today you can fill up on tea and cake at the cafe.  Or bring a thermos after dark and marvel at the night sky as the site was recently recognised as a Dark Skies Discovery Site.

There are a range of activities off-campus as well.  Coasteering, swimming through gullies and caves, and kayaking are a couple for those who love the water.  For land-lovers there is the option to cycle the Camel Trail between Padstow (home of Rick Stein’s food empire) and Wadebridge, pony-trekking or wild food walks led by chef Adam Clark (a guide to food foraging is available on Bedruthan’s website).  On a rainy day the Eden Project is not far away, or sample one of the free indoor activities such as making Balinese shadow puppets, singing or a print workshop.  There is entertainment every evening for kids.  Billy Whizz and Chloe the Clown are firm favourites.  Adults can also be entertained every evening from jazz to John Brolly, a brilliant, and original storyteller.  On Sunday evening, a feature-length documentary about getting kids outdoors and reconnecting with nature, Project Wild Thing, is shown.  The film is now a much wider movement, in collaboration with the National Trust and many other organisations, to get kids outdoors as it is better for their well-being. The free Wild Time app offers plenty of suggestions for outdoor fun whether you have ten minutes or a morning.

service_0003_Wild-Cafe-dayThe comprehensive list of local suggestions reflects Bedruthan’s wider commitment to supporting local businesses and use of Cornish suppliers and artisans.  Both the main restaurants, the informal Wild Cafe, and more grown up Herring are members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.  In fact the Wild Cafe has 3 stars from the SRA, their highest accolade, a reflection of their passion for local and seasonal products (85% of suppliers are local, across the hotel they have a business goal to source 70% of consumables from local suppliers).  The food is inspired by food heroes including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Yotam Ottolenghi.  The evening menu changes daily, as well as offering the stalwart burgers and pizzas. Kids dinner (4.30-6pm daily) is a choice of three hot dishes and, or a cold buffet.  The ice creams are delicious, we were addicted to salted almond.  Downstairs is the more formal restaurant, The Herring, serving delicious seasonal food with a focus on Cornish seafood.  A window table, with a chilled glass of 2012 Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Pinot Noir sparkling rose was a real treat!  For an even better view of the sunset, we snuck out one evening for dinner down at The Scarlet, the Bedruthan’s super-sexy sister, complete with natural swimming pool and hot tub with a view.  I can not wait for a weekend away without the kids to indulge in all it has to offer!

gordon-russel-sideboard-lucy-turner-300x200The hotel exhibits a wide variety of work by local artists, such as Sarah Duncan.  The furniture includes eye-catching mid-century pieces, similar to the piece pictured, that have been beautifully up-cycled by local designers such as Lucy Turner (if you like mid-century furniture, Bedruthan are running a Mid-Century Fair in October.  Other pieces are from RE:SOURCE, a Cornish social enterprise that is part of the national drug and alcohol charity Addaction, offers training and work placements to socially excluded people.  Tables and lighting from Unto this Last suit the fresh, contemporary vibe that has defined the hotel since it was built.

The commitment to sustainability is more than aesthetic, it was part of the hotel’s conception.  The parents of the current owners bought a small coastal hotel in 1959 with a vision.  Bedruthan has been innovative from the outset with bold, modern architecture creating less stuffy, open spaces.  Green roofs to improve the view from hotel bedrooms, and insulate, their own bakery and a focus on design (they already had a Scandinavian inspired shop) were ahead of their time. Behind the scenes, there is a strong focus on energy, waste and water conservation.  The building has its limitations in terms of energy, but the hotel purchases from 100% guaranteed renewable tariff.  Other measures have been taken, like using waste energy from fridges to heat hot water in the kitchens saving energy equivalent to boiling 3,250 full kettles each day.  As well as the ubiquitous towel and linen policy, water is conserved in the spa (a newer building) by using rainwater to flush the toilets (not that you would notice).  Elsewhere, toilets have dual flush options and small cisterns, and our taps and showers are fitted with aerators.  The hotel has worked with suppliers to reduce packaging or develop re-usable packaging.  There are recycling bins around the hotel and composting bins for coffee grounds and seaweed from all those spa body-wraps!

New landscaping reflects Bedruthan’s location on the North Cornwall coast, and I noticed many more areas of the grounds and roofs growing wild to encourage wildlife.  The hotel staff organise quarterly beach cleans (last count 25kg of rubbish, plus lots of rope and fishing nets that could not get on the scales).  They are also Business Members of the Cornish Wildlife Trust.  Even the choice of product for treatments in the spa reflects the hotels environmental sensibilities with organic, natural brands of REN, Voya and most recently ila on offer.

The hotel is award-winning, and it is easy to see why.  At the start of peak season there is the occasional hiccup, but it is always remedied with grace.  The hotel is relaxing, friendly and authentic. The hotel’s policy speaks of its ‘Cherish the World’ ethos, with the aim “to create memorable holidays, experiences and escapes which don’t cost the Earth”.  The hotel celebrates and is sympathetic to its location of outstanding, natural beauty.  Our holiday was a real breath of fresh air.

For full details of the hotel’s facilities please visit their website.

Image credits: Bedruthan Hotel, Joe Cornish, Lucy Turner.

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SustainRCA Show and Award 2014 finalists

RCA.SustainSustainability appeared in many guises at this year’s ShowRCA 2014, so it is not surprising that SustainRCA received a record number of applicants.  Almost 100 graduates from across the Royal College of Art, including the new programmes Interior Design, Service Design and Information Experience Design, applied to join the SustainRCA’s  dedicated programme of tutorials, talks, workshops, specialist resources and access to a professional sustainability network. As I scoured the Show, several of the SustainRCA graduates spoke warmly of the inspiration, mentoring and support that they have received from SustainRCA.  The freedom to explore many meanings of sustainability is reflected in the variety of work.  From new materials and processes to community projects and designs for a fairer, more transparent economy, the 36 SustainRCA Show finalists provide innovative responses to scarcity.  Beauty is a powerful motivator of behavioural change. larson

The declining health of coral reefs has been widely reported recently, with a WWF campaign to prevent dumping in the Great Barrier Reef, and growing concern about ocean acidification, which makes it harder for corals to absorb the calcium carbonate needed to make skeletons.  The delicate beauty of Monette Larson’s Aspiring Nature, certainly captures people’s attention.  The series of filigree glass installations made of small glass spheres fused together in the kiln to create larger organic structures inspired by corals.  Shimmering in the light, the delicate tonal turquoises and blues transport you to a marine landscape, the glass a metaphor for the fragility of marine eco-systems, where coral reefs are necessary to an estimated 25 per cent of all marine life.  nbennett

If Larson’s work excites an appreciation for the sheer beauty of coral, Nell Bennett’s project, Coral3, directly tackles ocean acidification, and provides a potential income for local communities.  Bennett created alkaline substrate structures to be placed up current from coral reefs. Over time, the water dissolves the alkaline structure, making the water surrounding the reef less acidic.  The coral reef is strengthened, enhancing local biodiversity, providing greater coastal protection and an opportunity for well-managed tourism.  The project is envisioned as a large scale social enterprise involving many stakeholders from subsistence fishermen to dive tourists, but offers potential for significant economic and environmental benefits. melchiorri

Julian Melchiorri‘s Silk Leaf & Exhale is another prototype, a biomaterial derived from silk protein and chloroplasts. It is an artificial leaf that absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen and biomass via the photosynthesis of stabilised chloroplasts in the silk protein.  Silk Leaf can generate more oxygen and biomass than a normal leaf, depending on the number of chloroplasts embedded in the silk.  Silk Leaf could be used for a variety of applications from interiors products, such as the lights pictured right, to architectural surfaces that provide air purification.  Green buildings in more ways than one!

Marcin RusakMarcin_Rusak_Monster_Flower_6‘s Flowering Transition is a conceptual project that explores the commoditisation of flowers cultivated for the global cut-flower industry. These mass-produced flowers are often highly-engineered to accentuate their longevity, scent, colour or other commercial virtues.  In consequence, some flowers have lost their scent, sense of local connection and ritual.  This work is divided into five chapters: fragrance; a perishable vase made from waste flowers; a textile printed with waste flowers in gorgeous purple, pink and lilac hues; and then two chapters devoted to Flower Monster which speculates where further genetic engineering of flowers, to suit a commercial wish list, will lead.  rusakRusak collaborated with geneticists, post harvesting specialists, engineers and floral artists to combine existing flower species, each with a different virtue.  The model was 3D scanned, and after some software alchemy printed in 3D.  Beware the monster created by the search for perfection.

Max Danger.Queen bee pinThe cultivated flower industry relies on the services of the humble bee, as do up to 90% of all wild plants, and 70 of the 100 staple crops that provide 90% of world’s food.  Max Danger‘s witty Let it Bee! graphics, drawings and jewellery speculate on the future of bees to stunning effect.  God save the Queen, is a beautiful pin made of 18 ct gold and diamonds.  Gabriele Dini‘s Swarm’s Scale, a large installation of honeycomb provides another perspective from which to appreciate the complexity of bee’s behaviour, as it is derived from swarm data.  Our appreciation needs to be for more than aesthetic.  Bees numbers are in drastic decline due to factors such as diseases and parasites, climate change and wider industrial agricultural practices, including loss of wildflower meadows and deadly insecticides. Julia Johnson_Plan Bee_RCA_2014_007 Julia Johnson’s Plan Bee is a self-monitoring beehive that detects unusual activity in the bee breeding patterns and could help to detect disease or infestations.  In a Plan Bee hive, a scanner captures images of the brood daily, which are then digitally analysed for any unusual patterns, and the beekeeper is alerted to any unusual symptoms.  Perfect for the 99% of beekeepers registered as hobbyists that inspect their hive, on average once a fortnight.

mitsuiIf the many of the projects remind us that nature’s bounty is fragile and precious, others provide ways to make better use of raw materials and rescue the value that is often lost to waste.  With New Value Of The Waste, Hana Mitsui developed a weaving process that revitalises discarded cloth into new, luxurious materials.  Mitsui’s original yarns created from textile waste can be used for industrial and hand-weaving looms.  Mitsui creates rich woven patterns inspired by traditional ikat fabrics.  ladNeha Lad‘s Beauty In The Discarded literally shimmers as Lad’s experiments combine precious and up-cycled materials with traditional handicraft techniques.

Timothy Sadler‘s VIBE is a computer interface that uses vibration to transfer information to a digital output, without electrical circuit board. This streamlined product vastly reduces the amounts of critical raw materials used, and so their waste streams.  Two projects envision a circular economy model for consumer electronics.  Paul Stawenow‘s Project PHOENIX, supports design for disassembly and material recovery to tackle the a small percentage of small electronic appliances are currently recycled. PHOENIX products would be designed so the user can separate the electronic parts from the casing in a delightful way. Parts would either be put in domestic recycling or returned to the manufacturer in a pre-addressed envelope.  In many portable devices, raw materials are hard to recover as components are stuck together to achieve a sleeker look and feel.  Andreas Bilicki’s, eGlu is a reversible adhesive for electronic components that would enable easier bonding and separating of components, making it easier to replace a broken screen or recycle a smart phone.

2e893105-3860-42aa-a709-93cc4a89bc7c-620x413With festival season in full swing, Sol Lee‘s Smart Festivals is a rental system for camping equipment with a colourful intelligent wrist band.  No more lugging sleeping bags, tents and other gear to the site for festival goers.  The aftermath of Glastonbury 2014 (pictured left) is typical of desolate post-festival fields littered with tents abandoned after a single use.  With an average 10kg rubbish per person, much of it textile waste, the scheme would reduce the great clean up for organisers.  The system would also enable intelligent affiliate partnerships, with further development.  Festival goes in 2015 can travel light, travel far for their summer rites.

ShenaiChange Ringing is a collaborative artwork by artist Peter Shenai and composer Laurence Osborn that would chime perfectly with Glastonbury as it combines music, sculpture, and performance to literally convey the sound of climate change.  The six bronze bells have been cast in shapes mathematically derived from graphic statistical representations of summer temperatures at seventeen-year intervals over the course of the twentieth century.  Arranged, and struck in order the bells ring out a sombre, inharmonious warning.  It simply does not ring true.  What a wonderful example of Information Experience Design, making the intangible data of climate change intuitively comprehensible.

degarmoFinally, a super, simple gadget.  Ashley de Garmo and Federico Trucchia’s Mag-Cook uses a series of spinning magnets to create induction heat to cook your supper without gas or electricity.  It is manually operated, so could be used anywhere you have space to pull the cord!

As Head of SustainRCA, Clare Brass said: ‘The diversity, depth and quantity of graduate work this year is unprecedented. There’s growing awareness that sustainability – environmental and social equality and justice – really underpins the fabric of our future.”

The winners across four categories, Moving Minds, Visionary Process, Inspired Product and Solutions for Society, will be selected from the 36 finalists, and announced at a private view on 17 September.  Each receive a bursary of £5,000 to support their ongoing work in sustainability.  The SustainRCA Show and Awards will then run from 18 September–3 October, supported by the Genesys Foundation and Climate-Kic.  I hope to catch up with a few of the finalists before the show to tell their story in fuller form, so watch this space!

Image credits: Adam Gray/; SustainRCA

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Rethinking at New Designers Part 2

liddardPart 2 of New Designers 2014 welcomed graduates from furniture and product design, visual communications, motion arts and theatre design.  I was delighted to see Oliver Liddard’s Rethink Sink.  In last summer’s dry spell, I could regularly be seen emptying water from my kitchen sink into the garden to revive wilting peas and beans.  My efforts at grey water recycling would have been much more efficient with Oliver’s RSA Award winning design.  Rethink the Sink uses two basins to make users visually aware of how much water they are using.  The first basin is plug less, so you have to consciously pour or ‘throw away’ water into the second basin.  This act enables users to intervene and recycle the grey water elsewhere in the home.  The design aims to decrease water consumption by making us aware of the volumes we use.  An elegant intervention.

keoghAfter the abundance of blooms at Part 1, one of the first works that caught my eye was Sam Janzen‘s Eco-System Composter.  Designed for an Electrolux Design Lab competition, the gravity-fed system takes food waste in, and fresh food out with the system sitting on top of a seed incubator.  The green-fingered amateur was also in the mind of Joshua Keogh when he designed Cultivate, as a client project for Joseph Joseph.  The self-watering system uses two silicone pots of different sizes making it easier to repot in the early stages of plant growth.

IMG_0022To propagate and cultivate plants, we need bees, and Jon Steven is a man on a mission to make bee-keeping more accessible with his eco-friendly and affordable Pine Hive.  Made of economical pine, with hemp rope handles, the hive has the same internal dimensions as the National Hive, and allows interchangeability of pre-existing parts such as frames and mesh floors, reducing waste from potential upgrades, and is stackable, so it can be readily expanded.

For a splash of colour,  Effie Koukia has developed paint and print products that are literally good enough to eat.  Effie set out to replace the hazardous chemicals in spray paints used for graffiti with a safer and healthier alternative.  The dyes and solvents used in the EXTRACT range are derived from 100% natural products and biodegradable.  The paints are available in three formats (paint, spray paint and screen-print) and safe for users, including children, in case of contact with the skin, ingestion or inhalation.  The hot pink on show was picture perfect!

yamazakiRecycled plastic bags provide inspiration and material for Reiji Yamazaki‘s work.  Heat is used to shrink the bags into a durable, flexible material that Reiji used to make colourful accessories.  seaibyWael Seaiby reminds us that one million plastic bags are used every minute around the world and around 93% of these bags end up in landfill.  With PLAG, Wael recycles some of these discarded bags into hand-worked vessels, that would bring a vibrant splash of colour into anyone’s home.

DSC_0003At last year’s New Designers 2013 I enjoyed Kai Venus Designs‘ Bambureau, made of formaldehyde-free bamboo ply, so I was delighted to catch up with him at One Year On. This year Kai exhibited a cabinet of curiosities made of birch ply, up-cycled kitchen knives and ash chopping boards.  The chopping boards are made from ash from Kai’s uncle’s farm that has been seasoned for several years, rather than months, revealing a deep grain and rich colour.  The “Zero-Carbon Knives” are made from up-cycling used saw blades, finished with handles of hardwood off-cuts.  The high-carbon spring steel used for saw blades is the same as that of Japanese sushi knives, so provides a razor sharp edge, which stays sharp for an exceptionally long time.  You just have to clean and dry the knife as soon as you have used it so the blade does not discolour.

obtineoStorage1Kai’s knives would be perfectly complemented by Tom Hutchinson’s considered and elegant Obtineo Storage jars made in the UK from the finest solid ash, felt and glass.  The glass is hand-blown at a works that can trace its roots right back to 1612. The felt, made of 100% wool, is from one of the last British felt factories.  Each of Oliver Richardson‘s three Kitchen Totems provide further decorative function to the rituals of eating an egg, steak or evening glass of wine.  Michael Papworth’s design project, sponsored by black + blum, looks to influence our drinking habits, designing a water carafe, based on black + blum’s charcoal products, as a functional table centre piece.

hpatelAs my children grow, I am left with a litter of toddlers’ toys, so the future-proof design of Heena Patel’s baby walker that transforms into a smart Scandi-style occasional table really appeals.  hknowlesHannah Knowles approach to changing lifestyles is to design modular, flat-pack furniture from everyday products such as pipefittings, ash dowels and pipes.  The copper adds a sense of luxury to her affordable, functional and fixable occasional table.

hongYonghui Hong’s stools are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable.  An eco-friendly alternative to polypropylene, PLA (polylactic acid) is a thermoplastic derived from plants (corn, sugar-cane and tapioca roots).  Yonghui designed two stools: the first, is injection-molded from Fibrolon F8530, a compound of PLA and natural fibres; the second, designed for low volume batch production is made from a composite of PLA woven with Biotex flax fibre shaped on a heated steel mould.

IMG_3345Monica Prieto Alzate won an Ercol design contest for her reinterpretation of a Windsor chair, Lucia.  Her bijoux vanity set, Kyo (pictured right) suits space-constrained urban-living and her decorative laser-cut hanging solutions, Familia, would be an affordable hanging choice.  A sensitive choice of materials and playful nature permeate all her work.

numaDaniel Brooks tackled another blight on life in a small flat, getting your clothes dry without the space or cost of a tumble dryer. His design, Numa, which won the Wilko Award for Innovation, is a heatless clothes dryer that can try up to 5kg of wet clothing 3 times faster than an airing rack, at a cost of 5p an hour.  A top-mounted fan creates constant air flow, encouraging evaporation, and a dehumidifier then extracts the moisture from the air to prevent damp and mildew.  Brilliant.

osborneFor a final decorative edge, Emilie Osborne, a paper artist, One Year On, displayed her three-dimensional surface designs.  Made of paper that is 75% recycled and 100% recyclable, the geometric designs create optical illusions of shape, depth and perspective.  The effect is decorative, dynamic and bang-on trend.

Image credits: Daniel Brooks, Effie Koukia, Kai Venus Designs, Monica Prieto Design, Purplewax, Tom Hutchinson Design




Carefully Curated goes more than SCIN deep

The SCIN Gallery and Carefully Curated are delighted to announce their collaboration bringing you a fresh perspective and surprising materials.
“The SCIN Gallery is housed in a wonderful old warehouse style building in Clerkenwell, EC1, the heart of the architectural community in the UK.  Arranged over four floors, with over 1,000 sq ft per floor, we showcase products and architectural materials from all over the globe. We are an independent showroom, both informal and informed, which is invaluable to architects and designers. Materials experts are on hand in the basement library to advise and explain, Monday to Friday, and we encourage our visitors to rummage and explore our incredible collection of over 4,000 fascinating materials samples housed in orange boxes. We are an inspirational resource for architects and designers looking for uniquely designed and sustainable solutions for their projects. SCIN also acts as a hub for networking and meet up opportunities, the perfect venue for anything from a board meeting or think tank to a product launch or trend forecasting day.”
Early 2015, the SCIN Gallery will launch their Green Room, which will be located in the existing ground floor of the gallery.  Visitors (architects, designers, specifiers and students and the public) will be welcome to investigate and research cutting-edge materials in the resource centre, supported by a stimulating agenda of seminars, creative workshops and product launches.  It promises to be a lively, engaging and thought-provoking programme, uniquely focussed on promoting sustainable design and construction.
Carefully Curated seeks and shares joyful things for everyday living for places and spaces for one or many people to eat, work, sleep, refresh and play.
Carefully because I care about where things come from, how they were made and by whom. Curated because our space is a collection we each arrange.  Our spaces are a powerful reflection of who we are and our values.  Carefully Curated celebrates products with provenance from designers and makers, whether small or large scale, who have made things with honest form and function for us to enjoy for many years.  
Together, SCIN Gallery and Carefully Curated want to share stories of new materials, new manufacturing processes and new technologies that are innovative, engaging and better alternatives.  Watch out for the wow factor, but perhaps not as you know it!
The SCIN Gallery’s latest exhibition “Plausible, Implausible” runs until September, at Morelands 27 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HL.