Chop on a new block

HAMPSONWOODS_HOMEPAGE_1I have been chopping an awful lot of root vegetables making seasonal warming winter soups and stews.  I recall Dieter Rams’ ten principles that include  ‘good design is aesthetic’ as I look for a board with form and function.  A beautiful object that we use every day can bring with it a daily dose of joy and elevate a small task from the mundane.  As such I have had a roving eye out for chopping boards.

I love the simplicity, and idiosyncrasy of the boards from Hampson Woods (pictured left).  Made from London Plane, and sourced directly from the arborists that have cleared once mighty trees from the city whose name they bear.  Every board is unique, hand carved from rough cut pieces in sympathy with the form of the wood.  Finished with olive oil, the resulting boards have a delicate beauty, perfect food platters for home, cafes, delis or restaurants.  The boards with a handle are priced from £35, there are also geometric boards (245 x 140 x 17mm) priced from £25.

SrO3BnANuIuShBAhRfqASJ-qA-MIf Hampson Woods make best use of materials on our doorsteps, Haidee Drew‘s ‘Handled’ Chopping Boards are made of bamboo sustainably manufactured far further afield.  The shape of the handles are inspired by traditional silverware from the Victoria and Albert Museum providing a decorative edge to a utilitarian product.  Bamboo is a fast-growing (some species grow up to 1m a day) and can be cultivated without pesticides, it is also extremely strong, so offers great durability as a chopping board.  The boards retail from £40 for a board 170mm x 335mm x 20mm.

6-leeborthwick-grain-and-haH1_thumb Sustainably sourced ash and beech are the canvas for Lee Borthwick‘s Grain and Hairy series of boards.  Lee strives to reveal the beauty of natural materials.  Each board has been scorched using a technique called pyrography to highlight its unique grain.  The boards are then oiled and ready for use as food platters, or simply as objects to provoke contemplation.   Prices start from £35 for a 5inch (12.7cm) board.    

EL-0613-10_thumbFor the minted version, I return to savour the work of Eleanor Lakelin, characterised by sculptural vessels and forms in wood from British trees that have been felled in the UK.  Eleanor uses traditional woodturning and carving techniques with great empathy for the natural form of the wood.  Sandblast, bleach or fire are then used to further tease out the grain creating fossil-like forms before finishing with natural oils.  The same techniques are used to make solid wood food boards either in olive ash or sycamore.  The olive ash has a deep chestnut colour with a beautiful grain. The boards (diameter 300mm or 400mm x height 50mm) are turned, lightly sandblasted and scorched around the rim before being oiled to bring out the grain.  In contrast, the sycamore boards are a light, creamy colour.  Also turned on the lathe, the sycamore boards have a distinctive hand carved rim with a dimpled effect.  Each piece has its own story, priced at £260, for 40 x 300 x 300 mms.

4e25a82465b20

Posh Salvage offer a range of chopping boards made from reclaimed teak.  Prices start at £35 for the rectangular board pictured, 37 cm x 18cm, 3cm thick.  Teak has long been used for general construction and boat building in Java, Indonesia because of its strength and durability.  Now new infrastructure built from concrete and steel is replacing the old plantation grown teak.  Long planks are salvaged to make furniture with off cuts and smaller pieces suitable for chopping boards.   Some of the pieces have some even have hand carved graffiti, if not the Posh Salvage range includes boards decorated with wholesome reminders that you are what you eat.

ep10806bks

By way of complete contrast, TopGourmet, supplier to the catering industry, produces very understated, functional chopping boards made of Richlite.  Richlite is a paper-based fibre composite made from FSC-certified and post-consumer waste paper content.  The boards are dishwasher safe and heat resistant to 180c and priced from £14.50 for a 150mmx200mm board.

It seems inevitable that most of the boards are made of wood.  Wood has wonderful aesthetic, tactile and renewable qualities, and with a little care it is extremely durable.  I was expecting a few surprises in terms of alternative materials, but may be they are yet to come.

Picture credits: Lee Borthwick, Haidee Drew, Eleanor Lakelin, Hampson Woods, Posh Salvage, Top Gourmet

Discover craft at Heals

heals1It’s time to discover new craft at Heal’s Modern Craft Market, running in their London Tottenham Court Road store until Sunday.  With expert demonstrations and hands-on workshops of contemporary craft as well as the chance to pick up a unique design, it is a real opportunity to invest in  some of the most innovative craft makers of the moment, from as little as £9 for a limited edition pencil sharpener from Will Smith.

IMG_2695Heal’s has a long history of nurturing designers from its beginnings as bed-makers in 1810, to Ambrose Heal’s instrumental role in the Arts and Crafts movement supplying sound, well-designed furniture at reasonable prices, and more recently the Heal’s Discovers Design Competition.  Today the Modern Craft Market, in association with the Crafts Council and Contemporary Applied Arts brings work from a carefully edited selection of artisans using traditional and contemporary techniques, skill, innovative materials and often a wry sense of humour.

jleeChief among the pieces that caught my eye were Jungin Lee’s candlestick holders made from salt.  In a range of colours from spring green to candy pink are a passing joy that can be savoured in the moment, as with any celebration, and then dissolved after use.  Jungin Lee is part of the the WORKS collective, a group of Royal College of Art alumni formed in 2012.

prin2Fellow WORKS design talent Ariane Prin‘s pencils are made from the wood dust, graphite, clay and flour recovered from the floor and canteen of the RCA and compressed into pencils. The pencils are labelled “From Here for Here” as they are waste from various areas of the RCA recycled in a local pencil factory to supply drawing tools to students. The project, shortlisted for the RCA’s Sustain Award, connects making, materials, and product with their place, and environmental principles.  The picture shows the tool, surrounded by pencils arranged in a dial.

stoolAnother wonderful reincarnation courtesy of  WORKS designers are the Well Proven Stools,  from Marjan van Aubel and James Shaw.  Mindful that processing wood products normally incurs 50% to 80% timber wastage Aubel and Shaw looked for ways to recapture the value in that waste.  Mixing a bio-resin with waste shavings caused a chemical reaction resulting in the distinctive foaming wood, a lightweight material reinforced by the fibres in the hardwood shavings.  Aubel and Shaw mixed the porridge-like material with coloured dyes and found it could be easily moulded.  The resulting Well Proven chair was nominated for the Designs of the Year 2013 by the Design Museum.  The stools currently for sale in Heal’s are the next iteration of the Well Proven Chair.  Pairing the foaming wood with  elegant turned American Ash legs creates a partnership of two contrasting forms.  The stools are  available in a variety of heights and colours.

The stools from Ellen Thomas were another pretty place to perch, with their on-trend teal feet and decorative inlay.  Prices start at £220 for a small stool.  Nick Fraser’s witty take on candlestick holders made from brass fittings and pipework are useful objects with industrial form, fitting for more than bachelor pads.  There were also gorgeous woven accessories from Beatrice Larkin and Eleanor Pritchard and equally tactile, though not as cuddly, boiled leather moulded to make lampshades from Hoare and Brady.nest

Everybody needs a home, and for £20 many of us could joyfully accommodate a Bird House from Smith Matthias to provide a home for small British birds such as the tit family and tree sparrow.  The flat packed nesting box is designed to fit in an envelope through a letter box and for easy self-assembly.  The Bird Houses are available in a palette of colours that are kind on the eye.

Go discover, there are many delightful objects with their own story to tell!

Home/Craft London/ Top Drawer – the cc edit

woodcutIt felt like a sprint finish to get round the cavernous halls of Earls Court on the final day of the trinity that was Home, Craft London and Top Drawer 2014, but I was well rewarded for my efforts.  It was a chance to get a sneak preview of new product launches, learn more of the story behind the label, or simply a face to a name.  Here are the cc edited highlights.

On the threshold of home was Plumen, sculptural lighting that is also energy efficient.  After the look-at-me exuberance of the original Plumen 001, the new kid, Plumen 002, is a simpler, more subtle design.  With luminosity equivalent to a 30W incandescent bulb and colour warmer than the  Plumen 001, the overall lighting effect is softer, but still architectural.  The compact fluorescent bulb has a lifetime of 8000 hours, or 8 years of normal usage and is recyclable.  It is not yet dimmable, but they are working on it!

mG7ClaqvSPiOnMWcvkLdWPAJust across the way was one of my current everyday joys, the Black +Blum Eau Good water bottle complete with charcoal filter.  Then, I made a bee-line for Stuart Gardiner to admire the fun and informative prints on oven mitts, tea towels and aprons.  Stylish aide-memoires to seasonal foods to hand in the kitchen when you need them!

BOJJE - WILD FLOWER SET CUTOUTOther kitchen accessories that caught my eye were the ‘wildflower’ range of utensils fashioned from beech and stainless steel (pictured left).  They are simply beautiful to look at and to hold.  Bojje are based in Suffolk with a passion for the materials they use, particularly wood.  Combining traditional woodworking , woodland crafts and modern technologies the products have a graceful, simplicity and sensuality.

27033759_57400Hop and Peck’s set of platter boards (pictured right) are handmade from sustainable solid oak and finished in Danish oil, from £35.

I had a brief pause to admire Haidee Drew’s bamboo chopping boards. More tableware in bamboo fibre was available from Ekobo who were showing their range of traditional handmade bamboo and laquerware and also Biobu, a range colourful enough for all the family to enjoy eating from.  I love the cool simplicity of the FAT Ceramics designed by Piet Hein Eek for Fair Trade Original.   The contemporary twist provided by Piet Hein Eek’s designs still allow the traditional craftsmanship of the producers in Thailand and Vietnam to shine through.

brushes

The handiwork of veteran crafts makers from Handmade-Japan was on show at Craft London.  I have been on the hunt for a good broom (and a mop) so loved the colourful ‘Nanbu Hoki’, traditional, handmade brooms and brushes made from all natural fibres.

rugNatural fibres such as pure new wool, jute and fair trade, organic cotton are the basis of Waffle Design‘s distinctive textured cushions and throws.  New designs for 2014 also included products made from upcycled aran carpet yarn.  The yarn was rescued from an old carpet factory in Yorkshire, and hand dyed in small batches in East London.  Tweedmill had a whole (makeshift) cabinet of colourful recycled wool and fleece throws on show, pictured left.  They also produce recycled picnic rugs, draft excluders, bags, cushions and even a garden kneeler.

smileAnd on to the bigger ticket items.  Fun furniture with clean lines and contemporary shapes from Lozi Designs.    The smile shelves were generating a lot of interest, and good humour (pictured right).  Close by, Wayfarer Furniture offered another response to eco-urban living with two new collections on show, the Prima and Tempo.  The first, Prima, uses wood, the second, Tempo uses lower grade, but also low carbon materials of fibre and corrugated board, both are a discursive response to ethical living in an urban environment.

acAnother Country‘s approach to sustainability is to make furniture that has timeless appeal crafted using traditional and modern techniques from responsibly sourcing materials.  Good design has physical and emotional longevity, and every piece from Another Country has a simple elegance you can enjoy for a long time.  The new Series 3, made from oiled beech and inspired by Edwardian industrial furniture, would work, literally and metaphorically, well at home or in the office.  The new Soft Series of blankets and cushions made from 100% hand-dyed wool with UK weavers Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company in three graphic designs is a simply covetable collection.

Finally, the beautiful laser cut silhouettes of trees by Clare Cutts, pictured at the top of the page, are an elegant and evocative way to bring the outside in to any space.  The designs are based on photographs of trees taken by Clare. Originally, Clare created the woodcuts to emboss tree prints on paper, but realised the woodcut are things of beauty in their own right.

corkAnd last, but not least, as I prepared for my cycle home, I was wishing for a pair of cork bicycle grips designed by Green and Blue and handmade in Portugal.  Cork is durable, anti-bacterial and offers cushioning, the perfect material for bike grips.  Cork is a naturally renewable, and these grips are hand made from Portuguese cork harvested in managed forests. They have beautiful form, and function.

What a hottie!

Seven_Gauge_Studio_2013_Product_on_White-140_large

The cold winter nights are still with us and one way to warm up is with a hot water bottle.  Who wouldn’t love a cuddle with one of these?

The warm tones of the Seed hot water bottle from Seven Gauge Studio (pictured left) alone will spark an inner glow.  Each cover is knitted on a hand-powered machine from top quality lambswool, then individually washed and slightly felted for a softer cuddle.  They are priced at £45, including the bottle, and made to order in England.

Hotties-210x210

The hottie covers from Laura’s Loom (pictured right) are made from Bluefaced Leicester wool that is sourced from the Yorkshire Dales.  The lovely colours of these Howgill fabrics deliberately evoke the colours and textures of Britain’s northern landscapes.  All Laura’s Loom products are designed, sourced and made in the UK, proudly celebrating Britain’s woollen heritage.  The hotties are available in the three colours shown, priced £24, and fit a standard 2l bottle (not included).

3863_3

An upcycled alternative, is the selection of hot water bottle covers made from vintage Welsh blankets that have been damaged beyond repair available from Jane Beck.  The blanket remnants are salvaged to make limited numbers of mini and full size hot water bottle covers.  Prices from £19.99 for a mini hottie, with bottle included.

hottiebottie400px_250pxx370_99241f4dd82b68b3c9669f6c284a545bFor a homemade option, the Hottie Bottie hot water bottle cover felt making kit from Gilliangladrag includes the wool tops, ready cut plastic template and full step-by-step feltmaking instructions written by Gillian Harris, author of “Complete Feltmaking” and “Carnival of Felting”.  A basic felt making kit (bamboo mat and net) is also required.  I am quite tempted to sign up for a Learn to Felt course, £65 for the day at the Fluff-a-torium in Dorking.

cherrystonebagThe cherry stone bag from Momosan is an original, and understated alternative to  conventional hot water bottles.  The 100% African cotton bags are filled with cherry stones that are a by-product of jam and kirsch making.  Apparently, Swiss distillery workers traditionally heated bags of the stones on warm stoves to sooth bumps and aching muscles.  If you don’t have a stove to hand, you and I  can heat the cherry stone pillows in the microwave to soothe muscular tension or warm feet in bed.  The bag can also be chilled for use as a cold compress on sprains or headaches.  The bags are available in 9 different patterns and cost £22.

Nights need no longer be chilly!

All pictures are from the suppliers websites.

Clean lines and living at Lozi Designs

lozi1 From the old, to the new at Lozi Designs at their pop-up, 31-32 Alfred Place, WC1E,  just behind the furniture hub that is Tottenham Court Road.  If you are planning a trip to Habitat, Heals or new kid on the block, West Elm, in the coming weeks then spare a few minutes to pop round the corner and pop in to Lozi Designs’ pop up.  On show is their new range of furniture, handcrafted using traditional woodworking techniques and modern technology.

The furniture is made from sustainable materials such as birch plywood, organic glue and milk-based paints.  The pieces are created by bending and shaping the wood into organic and geometric shapes, reducing the need for joints in furniture with clean, contemporary lines.

lozi2I am a particular fan of the bedside table (pictured above, £360) with its offset drawers. The large table (150x200cm, £850) and bench (£340), both pictured right, are a great combination for kitchen, office or study, and mini versions are also available for kids.  The child in all of us will be charmed by the swing (£100), and smiley shelves (from £100) that bring a little joy to storage.

cinemaJust behind the Lozi Design’s pop-up is the current HQ of ADA Projects, a collaboration of artists, designers and architects who share their skills and knowledge through lectures, courses, public events and film screenings.  Enthusiasm and industry were hand in hand, a workshop to one side, and the pop-up cinema to the other.

In the bleak mid-winter, Illuminate

ruthin

People have celebrated festivals for thousands of years in the bleak mid-winter.  The festivals, usually involving fires and feasting, around the mid Winter Solstice have many names, Yule, Christmas or Saturnalia (the Roman festival around the middle of December).   Lights are central to all of these festivals.  As we decorate our homes with lights, the Illuminate exhibition at the Ruthin Craft Centre lights up with a selection of lighting from young designers.

scAmong the highlights for me were the Rod Standard lamp (pictured right) from Sebastian Cox.  The stem is a steam-bent  hazel rod, and the shade is made from fine hazel shavings.  The hazel is grown locally to Sebastian and he harvests it every winter.  Coppicing is a way of cutting and  managing trees, creating a diverse woodland, and a sustainable source of timber.  The desk lamp’s shade is made from compressed hazel fibres, and casts a warm glow.

hw

Drws y Coed means Door to the Woods and the row of lights (left) are laser-cut with intricate patterns to create effect of dappled light in the woods.  The lights are made of local Welsh timber and plywood. The designer, Hannah Wardle, grew up in the Clwyd Valley, an area with much woodland, and her experience informs the materials and light effects of her products. Other influences stem from an interest in Japanese architectural ideas and the formal experience of an MSc in Light and Lighting at Bartlett, UCL, and 6 years working as an architectural lighting designer.

Claire Norcross, former head of lighting at Habitat, also takes her inspiration from the natural world, often super scaling a microscopic detail from the natural world to create a surface or structure.  I also appreciated the subtle engineering evident in the Lock Lamp, a collaboration between Colin Chetwood and Nick Grant.  The ‘lock’ stands for the mechanism that positions the light, whether extended, raised or rotated, without the use of springs, counter-weights or screw clamps.  A neat, elegant solution that is simply functional.

For Louise Tucker it is understanding her materials and the intervention of the hand that is central to the design process.

lt

Louise has chosen Pren, the Welsh word for wood as the name for her collection of light sculptures.  Each light is a developed by making a series of intricate small-scale models of the three dimensional structures and refining the models until satisfied the structure of the weave echoes the organic curves of the sculpture.  Hand-making is the alchemy that turns the natural materials into these sophisticated forms showing the subtle beauty of the materials to their best advantage.

Illuminate runs until 4th February 2014, and entrance is free.

Pop-tastic for Christmas

Lauras-Loom-scarves-Blues-150x150 Creative Clerkenwell is open for four more days featuring a selection of jewellery, ceramics and home wares.  It will be a beeline to Laura’s Loom to check out the throws made of 100% British wool, (I have an eye on the Howgill Scarves woven from  Bluefaced Leicester wool, £42, pictured), followed by a pitstop at Waffle Design to hear more about their work with natural fabrics and artisanal production.

SCT_318dJust opened at 118 Shoreditch High Street is a pop-up shop for Restoration Station, a social enterprise that restores vintage and designer furniture for resale.   Some of the team working on Restoration Station have trained with the New Hanbury Project (NHP), a skills training centre for people recovering from addiction.

lucentiaSitting alongside the seasonal ice-rink at Somerset House is the Christmas arcade with the Handmade in Britain Christmas pop-up with work from over 65 designers and makers.  I love the cushions from Lorna Syson, Noa Design rainbow necklace, and Lucentia‘s subtle, translucent place mats and coasters made from recycled plastics and textiles.

If you enjoyed Design Junction in September, you’ll be delighted to hear about their Christmas pop-up that is taking place at 53 Monmouth St, Seven Dials, in collaboration with Clippings.com.

Across the river on the south bank at Gabriel’s Wharf is the Shake the Dust pop-up, selling a bright selection of home wares, kitchen accessories, jewellery and prints that are all collaborations between emerging UK designers and ethical producers in developing countries.

Also on the hit list is a trip to see Lozi Designs pop-up in Alfred Place, WC1E 7EB showcasing their new collection of clean, contemporary furniture made from steam bent birch plywood, organic glue and milk-based paint.  I am looking forward to seeing the bedside table, and kitchen furniture.

Further afield, in Bristol, the Christmas Design Temporium is taking place at the Architecture Centre in Bristol showing a design led and architectural inspired collection of jewellery, textiles, prints and artworks.

More news from Restoration Station and Lozi Designs to follow.

Wonderbag

 

photo

Christmas came early in our house with some relatives going away, and we were given a Wonderbag.  I have long cherished my Mum’s slow-cooked food on her Aga and here is a much smaller, much cheaper way to achieve the same process!  Heat-retention cooking is not a new idea, it is an age-old technique, in a hay box, or a hole in the ground.  Wonderbag just makes it easy to do in your kitchen!

The Wonderbag is a “a non-electric, heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source.”  It is effectively a super thick sleeping bag (filled with recycled foam or  polystyrene granules) for your pan.  Once you have given the pot a kick start with a conventional cooker, you can pop the pot in the bag and it keeps cooking without burning any more fuel, wherever you are, indoors, outdoors, or in the bush.

wonderb

We had a go the next day, the Sunday roast of lamb shoulder became a pot roast.  I cooked it on the hob to brown the meat and then simmer it in a small amount of stock until the pot and meat were both hot.  The pot nestled into the Wonderbag, I tucked on the lid, and out we went for the morning, without any worry of pots boiling over or untended ovens.  The meat was delicious, so tender from the slow-cooking.  The bag also doubled as a popular toy……

The bag comes with a recipe book, and the variety of recipes online is fantastic with lots of nutritious and economical suggestions.  Moroccan vegetable soup will be the next recipe on my list, though the rest of the household has its eyes on sticky syrup pudding.

It is cost-saving and time-saving in my kitchen, but the ambition of Wonderbag’s founder Sarah Collins is much greater.  After years working in social development, and a spell of cold dinners caused by power cuts  drove her to experiment with cushions, Sarah conceived the Wonderbag.  For families in developing countries cooking on  kerosene, paraffin or wood, the stoves and fires don’t just cause smoky homes, they   are expensive, time-consuming and dangerous.  The positive impact of Wonderbag is compelling, clear and far-reaching.  Less deforestation and more time for family and other work are just the immediate and most obvious benefits.   For every Wonderbag sold in the UK or US, a Wonderbag is placed in a family in Africa.  To date 600,000 are in South Africa, each one cutting the average family’s fuel usage by around 30%.

What a wonderful recipe!  Last date for Christmas delivery is to order by midday on 18th December and the Wonderbag starts at £30.  The perfect gift for the difficult to buy for.

 

Window shopping at the New Craftsmen

Image

You can’t exactly window shop as the New Craftsmen pop-up store is in a garage in central London, but I have been trying to find a moment to peak behind the big black doors for a while.

I was immediately struck by the beautiful turquoise glazed, embossed tiles on the walls. What beauty, and expense, to adorn what would have been stables and a  carriage house.  The tiles reflect an attention to detail that is the essence of the New Craftsmen.

Before popping-up, the founders spent two years  touring the country, meeting exceptional makers of traditional crafts, masters of skills that are often centuries old, and capturing their stories.  New Craftsmen is the result.  A selection of beautiful, and useful wares presented to customers in a place, and space that also shares the stories of the people and processes that make them.

Some pieces are produced just as they always have been, such as the Sussex trugs (gardening basket) handcrafted from locally coppiced sweet chestnut and willow by Thomas Smiths since 1829.

TNC_Coventry_DarkGreen_01_compact

Other things are a contemporary take on a classic piece, such as the Coventry chair, pictured.  Made by Sitting Firm in Coventry, the chair is one of a number of variations on the classic Windsor chair that are stocked by the New Craftsmen.  Chris Eckersley designed the chair during a green-woodworking (also know as bodging) project at Clissett Wood, in Herefordshire.  This intensive designer mash-up, now named ‘Bodging Milano’, inspired spin off events such as the ‘Elves and the Chairmakers’ in the Lloyd Loom factory in Spalding when seven chair concepts emerged over two days.  I love the notion of designers’ creative energy sparking off one another to hot house new concepts and experiment freely with materials in their environment.

Bashot_0466_copysmallercropped_compactck to the New Craftsmen, where my eye was caught by a Taylor’s Eye Witness lambsfoot pen knife.  Sheffield, the City of Steel, has a tradition of knife making dating back to the 14th century, and Taylor’s Eye Witness have been fine exemplars of the local skills for over 150 years.  The knife is made entirely by one craftsmen (and comes with a certificate bearing its maker’s signature) from stainless steel and an ironwood handle.   To see how,there is a video on the Taylor’s Eye Witness website. The knife has a reassuring weight in your palm, and yet the wood grain on the handle has a delicate beauty.  Pen knives remind me of my grandfather making all manner of things for us, from whittling sticks to rope ladders. It would make a special present for someone.  A thing of beauty to enjoy forever.

Related articles:

East London Design Show – the CC edit

935606_748233341857996_477679725_nIt was a trip for all the family to the East London Design Show.  The website said, “Bring the kids” so we did, and they were catered for making hats, colouring and perusing the stands.  Their edit might have been different to mine.

Like a magpie draw to the bright and brilliant, I honed in on the Galapagos stand.  I have admired their uber-luxurious take on up-cycling before at Tent London, and there were plenty more mid-century chairs reupholstered in colourful, contemporary prints  to covet  at the ELDS this weekend.  The founder of Galapagos, Lucy Mortimer, is on a mission to provide “high design products without the environmental impact”, and to make buying vintage furniture as accessible as buying new. The chairs are so beautifully reupholstered they look like new too.  I love the latest collaboration with Parris Wakefield (thats the chevron print on the chair to the left).

clock

Re-purpose is at the heart of [re]design, a social enterprise that promotes ‘Good and Gorgeous design that is friendly to both people and planet’.  Here is a picture of clocks made from playing cards, a neat re-use of that deck of cards that is missing a few.  For the instructions on how to make the clock, and other things such as a pallanter (that is a planter made from a pallet, get it?), or a bath mat from a wetsuit, have a peak in [re]craft, a book full of everyday designs to make at home, from waste.   For more seasonal inspiration, try “Why don’t you…[re]design Christmas?”  I can’t help having a flashback to 1980s kids TV programming….

480774_10150923607836059_462348813_nMore making good use of the things that we find, was on display with Eco-pouffe, a social enterprise.  The pouffe is handmade in Shoreditch from recycled car tyres, bicycle inner tubes and legs turned from recycled timber.  The stool is traditionally upholstered using cotton felt (a by-product from mattress-making) and covered in fabric from Holdsworth, suppliers to the Tube, or a fabric of your choice.  It is certainly built to last.

CUS-group_2-580x482

From London to Laos and the beautiful, subtle textiles of Passa Paa.  Founder Heather Smith, a graduate of Chelsea Design School, combines traditional handcrafting techniques with innovative materials to create textiles that are firmly rooted in the patterns and symbols of traditional textiles in Laos, but re-interpreted for today.

The Hmong people of Laos have long used hemp for clothing and household items.   Pass Paa hand screen print the hemp with indigo and black environmentally-friendly dyes to make these stunning cushions, some of which are finished with applique work.

58_8b3b438d-645c-4ae7-b0b8-83edf31f535c_largeAlso from the east, and drawing on traditional skills are the place mats, storage boxes and picture frames from cuvcuv. The debut collection, ‘Wild One’ is  made from mendong, a rapidly renewable (growing!) aquatic grass grown in North West Java, Indonesia.  cuvcuv founder, Ruth, has been working with a small family business to develop this, first range for four years.  As a former buyer for Fortnum and Mason, Ruth knows a thing or two about quality, artisanal skills and provenance, and her new venture, cuvcuv is full of them.

Around the corner was another new (ad)venture in renewable materials, Mind the Cork.  I only had chance for a fly-by chat with Jenny Santo as the kids were hungry by this point.  Suffice to say, Alice (aged 3) loved the place mats, or more specifically the holes that had been punched through the cork to create a floral design. I love cork, its look, feel and material qualities.

I was all touchy, feely with the gorgeous jumpers at  Monkstone Knitwear.  The wool for Monkstone knitwear comes from the Monkstone flock at Trevayne Farm, a mix of Black Welsh Mountains and Dorsets.  After the sheep are shorn, the fleeces are washed, and spun into yarn for hand or machine knitting. You can buy the yarn (£5 per 50g of undyed, naturally colour wool) or a delightful chunky jumper that is ready to wear.

Other stands we flew by wishing we could linger longer were HAM to admire the playful, minimalist prints of a pig, horse and rabbit on 100% British homewards; and Group Design to talk about their bamboo shelves.

And then we were off!