Any trip to Grand Designs Live starts with a stroll down the Design Arcade, and inevitably I linger at the Vintage Wonderland Chandeliers stand (E7). The chandeliers are sourced from France, Belgium or Italy and then restored with skill, knowledge and a great deal of love. Those that are beyond repair are reborn as drops and pendants on new bespoke work. The chandeliers are rewired to conform to British standards and supplied with ceiling bell and chain. Alison can also work to create something bespoke to match a client’s colour scheme. They create a magical atmosphere in a room. This is upcycling at its most glamorous!
A few strides further, Green Decore Rugs, is a riot of colourful rugs made from 90% recycled polypropylene plastic. Prices start at £42 for a 120x150cm rug that could be used indoor, outdoor, at the park or on the beach. The bold patterns would brighten any gathering. I wonder where they get their colour?
Happily the Design Arcade is also the most direct route to Kevin McCloud’s Green Heroes. This year the selection is influenced by McCloud’s most recent series on Channel 4, “Kevin’s Supersized Salvage”, in which designers are challenged to repurpose or upcycle an Airbus A320. The Aircraft Workshop, set up by Harry Dwyer and Charlie Waller after working on the programme, have their quirky bird nesting boxes on display. The weatherproof Aircraft BirdBoxes (priced from £110, pictured left) are made out of air ducting pipework with back plates made from cabin flooring and an entrance from wing fuel pipe connectors. The resin-fibre duct pipe can not be recycled an would otherwise be landfill. I also like their egg cups at a more affordable £22!
Making good use of the things that they find are TING. They rework leather belts to create a glossy, subtly textured surface material for floors, walls or table tops (pictured right). The vintage belts, of high grade leather are stripped of buckles, hand cleaned and then carefully made up into panels that balance their pattern and colour. And if customers should ever fancy a change, then TING will accept the tiles back to recycle them.
From the dark to the bright white panels from 3DWalldecor. The panels are available in eight distinct patterns and made of bamboo pulp. Bamboo is often lauded as eco-friendly as it is fast-growing and can be cultivated without pesticides. The panels are modular, paintable, and bang on trend.
The eye-catching ceiling lights from Willem Heeffer are upcycled washing machine drums that have been powder coated in a choice of six subtle colours from light pink to slate grey. The lights are 35cmhx 48cmd, priced 310 euros and supplied with 2m of fabric braided cable. A literally more domestic take on the industrial look.
Taking centre stage is the ‘Eleanor’ bed from the Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company. This elegant bed is built to last, by hand in Norfolk from part recycled iron tube and scaffolding junctions. The ‘William’ in a raw metal finish is closer to its industrial roots. Prices start at £855 for a single bed, and it would no doubt withstand a lot of energetic bouncing kids.
For outdoors, Thomas Bramwell are showcasing their ECOLLECTION of modular outdoor seating, loungers, tables and planters made from 100% up-cycled plastics. The contemporary furniture is chemical, UV and heat resistant. It would make a striking addition to an urban garden.
From furniture to foundations. It is often the invisible elements of site design and construction that have the greatest environmental impact. Screed is what binds a flooring finish to the substrate and incorporates other flooring elements such as acoustic insulation or underfloor heating. Isocrete Green Screed, from Flowcrete UK, does not contain Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC). OPCs are a common ingredient in concrete, but at a high carbon price, accounting for 90% of the construction industry’s Co2 emissions, and the cement industry accounts for 24.9% of global Co2 emissions (source the Materials Council). Isocrete Green Screed is also made up of 40% recycled materials reclaimed from heavy industry, diverting the material from landfill. A heavy duty product with a lighter tread.
Groundshield is a self shuttering, lightweight foundation system from Swedish company, Advanced Foundation Technology Ltd. It is a slab foundation technique based on expanded polystyrene that eliminates the need for screed and is thermally very efficient, so suitable for low energy and passivhaus buildings. In this context the durability of polystyrene is a benefit!
Good insulation is essential for energy-efficiency in buildings, and Inno-THERM (pictured right) is an insulation made from 85% recycled denim and cotton. It is non-itch and does not contain any chemical irritants. It has low embodied energy as it uses 70% less energy in production than conventional inorganic insulation, and can be recycled at its end of life. It has a thermal conductivity of 0.039 WmK and very effective acoustic performance.
And finally, a by-product of a favourite fuel, coffee. Bio-bean collect waste coffee grounds sourced from coffee shops and instant coffee factories in the South-East. London produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds annually, and it generally ends up in landfill. Waste coffee grounds contain up to 20% oil by weight, and Bio-bean have patented a process to convert this oil to biodiesel that conforms to EU standards. The residual grounds are made into biomass pellets and briquettes which are carbon-neutral and suitable for all bio-mass boilers. Oh and they produce a coffee aroma when burnt.
Grand Designs Live 2014 is currently on at the London Excel centre until Sunday 11th May.
Image credits: Green Decore; TING; Vintage Wonderland Chandeliers and the rest are my own .