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Episode One

SpeakEasy with Vanessa Brady OBE

The SBID teamed up with Pierrus Agency to launch the new ‘SpeakEasy’ podcast series. Hosted by founder, Grant Pierrus, we’ll be sitting down for insightful and thought-provoking conversations with leading design professionals across the field of interior design, from international interior designers to innovative product suppliers to uncover their unique perspectives on the industry, the key factors driving industry change, and what they intend to do about it!

Grant gets candid over a coffee with some of the biggest names in the interior design industry. The first episode in the new ‘SpeakEasy‘ series will feature a conversation with award-winning interior designer and founder of SBID, Dr Vanessa Brady OBE, where she sheds light on how climate change is effecting the interior design and construction industries.

Vanessa comments on how she can see the design sector unfolding in the next decade; driven by the newly emerging consumer attitudes which weren’t so prominent in the 90’s, where people were more concerned with showing off their wealth.

“For very first time designers, and people in general, have a conscience … and that conscience says people are interested in how things are made. Obviously if you’re in business you have to be looking at the bottom line – but it’s not the only driver. It’s a social conscience on the things that are involved in making a business tick – giving back, looking after other people, being decent again, and I think that did get lost a little bit in the past.”

Armed with over 30 years expertise in the design industry, she continues to share her thoughts on the broad topic sustainability, how integral this will become for the future of design and what role technology, innovation and manufacturing will need to play in this process.

Highlighting important considerations for designers, whether of interiors or of products, she adds “Sustainability is something that effects everything, from the beginning of the idea to the end user, so it is a sort of cradle to grave process. And I think it’s not just during the use of a product … it’s when its use is over. What happens then?”

Tune in to the whole conversation to discover more.

Upcoming episodes will feature the talented founders of Hill House Interiors, Helen Bygraves and Jenny Weiss, as well as director of Life Kitchens, Oliver Stephenson.

Stay up to date with the latest episodes and click here to find out more.

SBID Accredited Industry Partner, Schneider Electric provide energy and digital automation solutions to residential and commercial markets with an emphasis on efficiency, reliability, safety and sustainability. Committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, Louisa Buckley, Residential Segment Marketing Manager at Schneider Electric tells us about the brand’s 180 year history, and how they are moving even more towards a sustainable future.

What are the origins of your brand?

Schneider Electric is originally from France and was established over 180 years ago by the Schneider brothers. It is a global organisation specialising in Energy and Digital Automation solutions. Our technologies ensure that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone at every moment. Schneider Electric has gone a long way since it first started in the steel and machinery industry in 1836. A few years later it then entered the emerging electricity market. After experiencing two world wars, Charles Schneider restructured the company in 1949. Throughout the 20th century, different companies were acquired and the focus was more on electricity. Then, during the beginning of the 21st century more on products and solutions. Schneider Electric has always kept efficiency, reliability, safety and sustainability at the heart to all of products and solutions for their customers.

As a global company, we committed to the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ to help end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. As part of these goals, we have committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. We are committed to help our customers on this journey to help the planet with our products and solutions.

How do you work with interior designers?

Our electrical accessories are built to complement inspired interiors. Designed by award-winning craftsmen in the Schneider Electric Design Labs, our range of light switches bridge the gap between form and functionality to perfectly fit in any interior. We have a wide range of beautifully crafted, high-quality devices to suit every taste and budget.

Scheider Electric Smart Home Solutions on radiator home interior

What value does your sector add to the interior design industry?

Introducing Electrical Safety, Smart homes, Style and Net Zero products and solutions. This is important for customers who want to be stylish but still be sustainable. Wiser, KNX and C-Bus are smart home solutions that can be implemented in the home to help contribute towards net zero.

How do your services/offering enhance an interior designer’s projects? 

We have an inspirational and visualisation tool called ‘Find your Style’. Our smart home offerings will help futureproof interior designer’s projects e.g. C-Bus/KNX/Wiser. We also have a tool on our website to find an Electrician/Installer to come and install our products for peace of mind. They are approved partners who have had all the relevant trainings to safely install Schneider Electric products and solutions.

What are the latest trends you’ve noticed in your client’s requests?

Sustainability. This is a ‘hot’ topic at the moment from the government and press. Our customers want high quality products that meet their styles whilst improving the energy efficiency and comfort of homes.

Why did you want to become a sponsor of the SBID Awards?

We are proud to sponsor the SBID International Design Awards. This is a great opportunity to connect with Interior Designers and other professionals from the interior and décor industries. It is a brilliant place to also view some of the best interior design projects, which will support us in inspiring our customers.

Residential Apartment Under £1M Category Sponsor  |  SBID International Design Awards 2020

To find out more about becoming an SBID Awards sponsor, click here or email [email protected]

Project of the Week: SBID Awards Finalists 2019

This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features the timeless explorer’s lodge which beats with the pulse of wild Africa. Lying on the edge of Botswana’s mysterious Savute Channel and within Chobe National Park – where the big five roam, the skies are large and the land is washed with the muted colours of the Savute – the Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge has undergone a full redesign and has since become a tented retreat infused with the romance of a bush camp. This is the result of a robust collaboration among Belmond (owner/operator), Luxury Frontiers (project manager and architectural, infrastructure and back of house design), and Inge Moore of Muza Lab (interior design). Together, the team designed entirely new public areas including an arrival lobby, dining room, lounge and bar, library, pool, spa and game-viewing hide – while also refurbishing the guest accommodation suites. The resulting design is a contemporary tribute to the golden age of exploration. And while the design rightfully evokes a sense of adventure and discovery, guests are also drawn to connect with the natural world and slow down to the rhythm of the land that surrounds them.

SBID Awards: Hotel Public Space finalist sponsored by Viva Lagoon

Practice: Luxury Frontiers

Project: Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge

Location: Chobe, Botswana

Sustainable hotel design by Muza Lab and Luxury Frontiers featuring outdoor dining and seating

What was the client’s brief? 

The Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge has long enjoyed a beautiful location within Chobe National Park, Botswana’s most biologically diverse park with one of Africa’s largest concentrations of game. However, the lodge had become tired, it was not engaged with its location as an experience and it did not reflect Belmond’s commitment to sustainable development and practices.

In addition to design responsibilities, as Lead Consultant and Project Manager for the project, Luxury Frontiers was responsible for the full coordination and contracting of the professional team, bringing on board the local expertise of general contractor Lodge Builders of Botswana and the hotel interiors talent of international designer Inge Moore. With the lodge’s state of affairs, Muza Lab and Luxury Frontiers were tasked with reinvigorating the resort not only to reflect Belmond’s principles, but to also engage guests through curated spaces and to showcase the natural beauty of the locale.

Sustainable hotel design by Muza Lab and Luxury Frontiers featuring living room

What inspired the interior design of the project? 

The goal was to create spaces which both reflect the greatest sense of place and are where people can embrace their surroundings, all while paying the highest respect to the environment through sustainable design. Materials are simple and natural, including limed and white painted saligna wood floors, rattan furniture and fabrics combining bright geometric prints with earthy tones. The tented public areas which include an arrival lobby, dining room, lounge and bar, and library are a collection of tented rooms which flow outdoors onto large terraces with magnificent views. The public areas have been designed to lend a comfortable, lived-in feeling with layers of collected artefacts, yet bring in plenty of local context with clusters of carved poles recalling the sticks used by the indigenous people, traditional decorative screening details and locally crafted lights inspired by the region’s clay pots.

Befitting to Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge’s location within an unadulterated wilderness area, all structures were designed to celebrate the great African bush, frame spectacular views and have a truly experiential function. Take for instance the game-viewing hide which allows guests to inconspicuously watch the area’s beloved herds of elephants and other exotic animals which gather around the lodge’s watering hole. Added to that are the hide’s beautifully simple design and its composite bamboo walls, which cast striking, spindly shadows throughout the space.

What was your team’s highlight of the project?

A real point of pride for the team was the fact that the project was devoted to minimising environmental impact to the lodge’s stunning site and to supporting local businesses and organisations. All of the lodge’s structures were constructed on suspended, timber-based platforms and made of composite boarding and canvas. The previous lodge’s timber was recycled and reused, and the lodge’s decks were rebuilt using composite bamboo – one of today’s highest green timber alternative products. In the guestrooms, local thatching grass purchased from communities in Northern Botswana was chosen to cover the roofs. In fact, all the furniture, fixings and equipment at the lodge was sourced locally in Southern Africa, including gorgeously crafted pieces produced by The Blind Society of South Africa.

What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?

A design challenge – but one which was embraced – was the team’s commitment to making the lodge completely self-sufficient. As a specialist in infrastructure and back of house design in off-the-grid locales, Luxury Frontiers was excited to think outside the box and come up with efficient, cutting-edge solutions. Previously, the whole lodge was run on generators, which could consume up to 300 liters of diesel daily. This was replaced with a state-of-the-art solar farm of 665 panels and a Tesla battery system (one of the first in Botswana), and this has cut fossil fuel consumption by approximately 90%. Luxury Frontiers had installed a new anaerobic Sewage Treatment Plant, replaced the gas-fired hot water heaters with power-efficient thermodynamic geysers for each of the guestrooms, and put in an automated biodigester (the first of its kind in Botswana). The machine processes five tons of kitchen food waste monthly and turns this into compost, which is then bagged and used in local community-based farming initiatives.

Why did you enter the SBID Awards?

The Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge project team was excited to enter the SBID Awards to give credit to the complexity of the project, which was further heightened by the sensitivity of the project’s site (an unadulterated wilderness site within a national park). As projects are judged by SBID on both aesthetic creativity and technical merit, we knew the work done at Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge needed to be highlighted and heralded in the design community as world-class interior design was thoughtfully married to the utmost sustainable design considerations. Through our work here, we hope the design community (and the hospitality world) witness and strive to further the push the boundaries in sustainable design.

Questions answered by Graeme Labe, Principal & Managing Director at Luxury Frontiers with support from Inge Moore, Principal at Muza Lab

If you missed last week’s Project of the Week featuring Art Déco inspired interiors for a luxury residence, click here to see more.

We hope you feel inspired by this week’s sustainable Hotel design! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire

SBID Awards 2019 | Hotel Public Space finalist sponsored by Viva Lagoon

Sustainable hotel design by Muza Lab and Luxury Frontiers featuring outdoor dining and seating

Project of the Week

This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features the immersive metaphor for managed forests and the future of renewable construction designed in a collaboration between STACKLAB, Community Agency, and Great Gulf.  This public space design presents an abstracted representation of a house being gradually overgrown by a nascent pine forest. At the centre of the 60-square-metre exhibit, a twig-wrapped base-building column acts as the figurative tree trunk. Suspended around it were the ‘leaves’: 4,085 glass test tubes, filled with soil and pine saplings, hanging from a CNC-milled birch plywood trellis bolted to the existing concrete ceiling. The Lightframe display system integrates programmable multi-colour LEDs within reconfigurable structural aluminium modules, allowing for infinitely customisable spatial forms and lighting patterns. That attribute was exploited to make Wild Abode an immersive, multi-sensory experience, with slowly undulating waves of light from the LEDs timed to simulate a body’s breathing and heartbeat.

Sector: Public Space Design


Project: Wild Abode 

Location: Toronto, Canada

What was the client’s brief? 

The Wild Abode is a collaboration between Stacklab and a Community Agency in Toronto for visionary developer, Great Gulf. It was Launched at the inaugural EDIT festival; The Expo for Design, Innovation, and Technology in Toronto from 28th September to 8th October 2017.

Great Gulf asked our partnering firms to demonstrate their leadership in efficient, and environmentally-sustainable-construction systems.

What inspired the interior design of the project? 

This was an immersive metaphor for managed forests and the future of renewable construction – a living, breathing, growing attraction, beautifully and starkly contrasted by an efficient, integrated building system.

The Wild Abode features the first public launch of Stacklab project’s prototypic “Lightframe” system, which they developed in collaboration with architect, and University of Waterloo professor, Jonathan Enns in 2015 and 2016. Wild Abode used the Lightframe system to present an abstracted home being gradually consumed by a nascent pine forest. Arrayed around a central, sculptural tree trunk made of salvaged twigs, were 4870 pine saplings and soil in test tubes, ready to be planted for later use as a renewable building material. The Lightframe prototype was programmed with slowly undulating waves of light from the LEDs, timed to simulate a body’s breathing and heartbeat. The scale of the Lightframe module’s 8 by 8-foot bay relates comfortably to the human body. The dimensions permit easy, flat-pack shipping, and hauling inside a standard elevator. All of the Wild Abode exhibit components fit inside an 18-wheeler truck.

STACKLAB'S public space design with immersive exhibit, Wild Abode
STACKLAB'S public space design with immersive exhibit, Wild Abode

What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?

Lightframe is a modular, structural lighting system – a design that strategically alters an existing, pre-engineered German-made aluminium extrusion. These modifications took over a year to develop successfully. Once designed, they enabled the creation of a new series of four standard modular lightbars, each embedded with complex wiring runs and LEDs. Each lightbar is individually addressable and is programmed from a central computer.

What was your team’s highlight of the project?

We wanted to see a genuine confidence in an informed return to the basics. Our audience reported that they felt energised about the future of smart, sustainable building systems and encouraged by the scope of the research surrounding it.

Why did you enter the SBID Awards?

We feel that SBID is committed to recognising meaningful design innovation, and often brings industry leaders together to engage in provocative discourse that is relevant across many disciplines.

Questions answered by Jeffrey Forrest, Founder of STACKLAB.

If you missed last week’s Project of the Week featuring an office overflowing with inspirations to help spark the imaginations of clients in search of creative ideas, click here to see more.

We hope you feel inspired by this week’s pubic space design! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire

SBID International Design Awards 2018 Finalist  |  Public Space Design category sponsored by Sans Souci

Project of the Week

This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series took a dilapidated former department store from 1906 and re-imagined it to create an inspiring and multi-disciplinary architecture and design practice. The building was stripped of years of incremental additions to reveal original features. Existing interiors were assessed to ensure that elements such as 111-year-old Burmese teak flooring, a grand tiled-staircase and historic colours were preserved, as well as artworks created by squatters dating from the 1990s.

Voids cut through the building, provided volume and connections between levels. A striking reception and model-shop animate the ground floor, while a large basement event space includes cycle storage, changing-rooms and showers. Open-plan office design concepts were used to create workspaces and meeting areas which are also located on first to third floors. Topped by a new rooftop bar/restaurant for staff and the public, comprised of a series of oak-framed pavilions and a bespoke glazed dome that marks the end of a south-facing terrace.

Sector: Office Design

Company: Squire and Partners

Project: The Department Store

Project Location: London, United Kingdom

What was the client’s brief? 

Our brief was to take an unoccupied, dilapidated former department store from 1906 and re-imagine the building to create a series of inspiring office design which serves as work and social spaces for our multi-disciplinary architecture and design practice.

We sought to sensitively restore the Edwardian building, retaining and recycling as much of the building fabric as possible to bring it back to life, whilst also delivering a workplace that meets current and future needs in its offering of excellent facilities, with a forward-thinking approach to sustainability and wellbeing.

What inspired the interior design of the project? 

Stripping the building back to its raw state revealed a decayed grandeur and an extraordinary commitment to craft and detail by the original artisans. We looked to reveal and highlight these elements, in their found state, as well as exposing remnants left by more recent inhabitants, whilst adding a series of contemporary interventions in order to re-purpose the building as an inspiring modern workspace.

All aspects of the building’s history have been revealed, from its grand beginnings through to periods of misuse and decay, including a decade of use as a squat. Original graffiti sits alongside high end finishes, and modern furniture pieces co-exist with antique retail display cases in a highly curated interior filled with crafted curiosities which span the lifetime of the building.

What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?

Working with an existing building that had remained unoccupied (aside from squatters) and neglected for 40 years was challenging given its state of dilapidation. However, the building was of a robust construction, and after investigations it was decided that enough of the original fabric and character remained to provide a glimpse of its illustrious past and inform the approach of the new design, where possible embracing and capturing the building’s mistreatment over the decades.

A challenge during the restoration process was communicating to the build team the level of rawness and the overall aesthetic we wanted to achieve, as it was a non-standard finish and often a process of trial and error. During construction it was harder to see when surfaces were at their desired level of finish – we had a strong presence on site throughout the process and would stick signs to walls saying ‘this is finished’!

What was your team’s highlight of the project?

Re-activating the street level, which comprises a series of creative and retail units for local businesses, including an independent coffee roastery, café and record shop and a new home for the community Post Office. The café/bar at The Department Store’s apex is in the spirit of Café de Floris in Paris, which supported the original Bon Marché.

Squire and Partners’ own windows are utilised as a platform for creative arts within the local community, with a rolling programme that ranges from work by established and emerging artists to collaborations with local school children, as well offering views into the dedicated Downstairs events space used year round. These animated uses have transformed the building’s existing impermeable and hostile frontage into a friendly and open part of the community, bringing the building back into their hands following years of neglect.

Why did you enter the SBID International Design Awards?

The chance to be recognised by the SBID International Design Awards is a chance to be recognised internationally, by industry experts, and alongside the world’s leading designers of interiors.

Office Design by Squire & Partners
Squire and Partners, The Department Store office design project images for SBID interior design blog, Project of the Week

Questions answered by Tim Gledstone, Partner at Squire and Partners

If you missed last week’s Project of the Week featuring a traditional Cape Dutch style house inspired by South African street art, click here to see more.

We hope you feel inspired by this week’s office design! Let us know what inspired you #SBIDinspire

Squire and Partners  | SBID International Design Awards

Creating spaces and buildings that are as eco-conscious as they are design-forward is becoming a pressing requirement for the interiors industry. Russell Owens from Zip Water UK explains why the future lies in making sustainable design beautiful. ‘Sustainable design’ aims to reduce or eliminate negative environmental impact through thoughtful design. This means working to create buildings and products that are more energy-efficient, reduce waste and use limited resources throughout their life-cycle. Further to this, specifiers and designers can give preference to materials that will contribute to people’s health and wellbeing – another important element of sustainability that is often overlooked. . .

This content is available exclusively to SBID members with SBIDPro.

To access exclsuive member-only content,
click here to find out more about becoming an SBID member.

Feast your eyes on this month’s product update for the latest products and innovations to specify for your projects. If your focus is to design with sustainability in mind, why not check out the industry’s most advanced drinking water appliances with multi-functional, energy-efficient taps, or even a new range of stylish and recyclable bathroom suites with baths, shower floors and washbasins made from entirely natural materials…

Alexander Joseph product feature for SBID interior design blog

Introducing Alexander Joseph’s range of Luxury Cordless Lamps

Alexander Joseph have just launched the world’s first luxury cordless lamps. The decision to create the range of lamps came following a fruitless search by the founder, Mark Robinson. He explains, “around a year ago my wife and I looked for decorative cordless lamps, all we could find were entry level or novelty varieties with very limited endurance. I spoke to several interiors’ organisations, lighting companies and retailers, then decided there was a place in the market for Luxury Cordless Lamps”. The patent pending technology used to power lamps provides at least 50 hours of continuous use before the need for recharging. Put another way, 3-4 weeks of normal use. Hidden in a sealed base, the technology is discrete and robust. The company have designed their own LED bulb, preferring to house the drivers in the base rather than within the bulb itself. This allows Alexander Joseph to provide a consistent soft light equivalent to a traditional 60w bulb. The idea has always been to hide the technology so lamps look as decorative as other luxury brands, but without the cord and plug.

Click to shop


Atelier MIRU product feature for SBID interior design blog

The first mini-collection by Atelier MIRU in 2018; designed for the daring

Atelier MIRU delivers to daring individuals with an artistic flair and appreciation for the mastery of hand-made craftsmanship. The Resurrection Collection of bespoke, painted furniture by Atelier MIRU was born from a poignant moment in the artist’s life, which became the main inspiration in her creative process.  All Eyes on You was created exclusively as part of this collection. Hand painted in oil, the mirror is reminiscent of the human iris and alludes to its various anthropological symbolic values. The eye is not only a gate to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness, but also enlightenment and mindfulness among many. Through its magnified and in-your-face quality, the piece emphasises and deliberates these connotations. By enticing both the visual and emotional, this mirror will easily become the focal point of any luxury interior.

Click to shop


Bette product feature for SBID interior design blog

Bette showcases the latest in bathroom design, colour and safety at Sleep + Eat

German bathroom product manufacturer, Bette, will be exhibiting its ‘30 year warranty’ glazed titanium-steel baths, shower floors and washbasins; showcasing the latest in bathroom design, colour and safety at Sleep + Eat (November 20-21). They will be giving live demonstrations on the durability of its products, which are finished in BetteGlaze; a glass-like surface which is harder than marble, plastic or epoxy granite, is non-porous, scratch-resistant and easy to clean.

Products are available in both gloss and matt finishes, in an extensive range of colours, with the opportunity to colour-match ceramic items, such as tiles. Bespoke colours can be created to fit with interior themes, as well as bespoke sized products to fit the desired space perfectly. The latest edition to Bette’s range of baths will be exhibited with the freestanding bath in one of their new stand-out shimmering colours; welcoming the BetteLux Oval Silhouette bath in new ‘Blue Satin’ finish. What’s more, is Bette baths, shower floors and washbasins are made from entirely natural materials and are 100% recyclable. Bette has also invested heavily in green technologies at its factory in Germany to create 2/3 of its energy requirements from renewable resources!

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Diane Berry Kitchens product feature for SBID interior design blog

The new ‘Unique’ collection of kitchens and furnishings is designed for the ultimate timeless and minimal aesthetic

Since 2006, eggersmann has been busy realising the idea of manufacturing and further developing a collection of kitchens and equipment which can hardly be matched for its timelessness and minimalism. The name UNIQUE really says it all. The focus is on individuality, also exceptional and exquisite materials. A decisive and fundamental idea for this system is the homogeneity of all relevant surfaces. Front and side surfaces, also handles and working surfaces are made of just one identical material, creating this very unique and stunning style for the discerning clientele.

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Zip Water UK product feature for SBID interior design blog

Zip’s new HydroTap All-in-One Celsius Arc offers homeowners function and style

Next level functionality meets flawless design in Zip Water UK’s latest HydroTap, the All-in-One Celsius Arc. The brand behind the world’s most advanced drinking water systems brings homeowners the very best in style and substance with this high-performance multi-functional tap. The new HydroTap instantly dispenses five different water types from a single tap and under-counter unit, including highly filtered boiling, chilled and sparkling water, plus unfiltered hot and cold water for washing up. Available in Zip’s expansive range of stylish finishes, including rose gold, brushed gold and gunmetal, all this functionality is also wrapped up in the Arc’s elegant ‘swan neck’ and dual-lever design making it perfectly suited to both modern and period kitchens.

As well as offering interior enthusiasts huge design scope, the HydroTap also boasts filtration 25 times more powerful than a water filter jug. Eliminating the need for still and sparkling bottled water, a kettle and additional mixer tap, owners can de-clutter countertops at the same time as reducing their household’s single-use plastic waste. By specifying the Zip HydroTap All-in-One Celsius Arc, clients can also be confident that they’re contributing to the energy efficiency of their home. With advanced energy saving features and best-in-class air-cooled technology, the tap performs to the highest standards of environmental responsibility and sustainability.

Click to shop

As an interior designer I am always on the lookout for products designed with environmental consideration in mind.  What better place to find such products than to visit the “ecobuild” exhibition held annually at the Excel, London.

This year again the event was buzzing with manufacturers showcasing their sustainable designs of new and innovative products and technologies, for the construction industry, lighting design, interior design and garden design.

Two products caught my attention this year as I wandered around the exhibition.

Beautiful hand made decorative lighting designed by Sarah Turner.

Sarah hand makes these decorative lights from every day waste plastic drinking bottles collected locally.  You would not be able to tell where they originate from once the lighting had been created.  They looked magnificent.  After cleaning the bottles she sand blasts them to give the opaque look.  They are then hand cut and sculpted in to decorative forms.  Sarah uses her talent to help recycle just a few plastic bottles and thus contribute towards resolving problems of landfill site.

Timco wood is a wood plastic composite product made from 100% recycled wood chip and high-density plastics.  This eco-friendly product is used for decking, cladding, fencing and balustrade system.  It has the warm feel of wood with durability and water resistance of polyethylene plastic.  As such the product is easy to install and it doesn’t splinter, rot or warp.  It is also low maintenance and will look good for years to come.

The availability of the range of colours, materials and textures allows you to create many stunning contemporary as well as conventional looks.

The product is readily used in commercial environment but I would specify this product for busy, budget and time discerning families who prefer to spend their time enjoying the garden and family rather than worry about the maintenance and the condition of the decking, time and cost.

Written by interior designer Sangeeta Goyal

The use of reclaimed and recycled materials is starting to become relatively standard, with many designers embracing the challenges that using a non virgin material brings.

There are myriad advantages to using any type of reclaimed material, but despite ecological and sustainable design becoming part of any discerning design studio’s working practices there can still be the misconception that ‘eco’ design does not necessarily mean ‘refined’ design.

Even though there can be distinct limitations to the reuse of an object or material, these can, and should inform the design process, with the clearest and strongest qualities being developed for the new object.

What is encouraging to see is that there are more and more products being developed along these lines, with a recycled foundation but a refined end result.

An example of this developing strand of design is beautifully illustrated by Canadian designer Tat Chao with the BIPOLAR range of pendant lights.

At first glance, these pendants appear to be lit glass lozenges which have been pinched around the middle with a metal ‘belt’, possibly during the glass blowing process.

But their appearance is rather deceptive. These are not hand blown glass shapes. They are recycled wine glasses.

Forming part of Chao’s IN VITRO range, the BIPOLAR light uses two reclaimed wine glasses to form each of the pendants. Their bases are removed and used in another project and the stems are shaped to a point before they are joined about the rim with a thin anodised aluminium band, housing a strip of LED lights.

The result is a simple, glowing pendant light which ticks not only the sustainability boxes but excels at being a piece of elegant design.

Whilst this is not a ‘bespoke’ piece as such, the fact that reclaimed materials are used in the process of construction ensure that each BIPOLAR is different from the next, with each light varying in glass design, shape and size.

Plus, this is a project where the concept can be carried across a range of found materials with ease, ensuring that the design is adaptable – an essential element of any true ‘sustainable’ product that uses recycled pieces. There is no point designing a product which becomes so popular that virgin materials have to be used. Design a process which can adapt.

The BIPOLAR light succeeds on all of these main points – it is simple yet elegant – in conception, construction and when finally suspended and lit. A great example of a truly beautiful, sustainable lighting design.

Visit for further information on the range.

Written by eco interior architect & designer guest blogger Claire Potter

The energy saving bulb has been with us for a number of years, but even though many of us elected to purchase them when our old bulbs blew, the phasing out of the incandescent bulb has meant that it is one of the cheapest and most readily available replacement choices for consumers.

Not that this is at all a bad thing – changing just one fitting to use an energy saving bulb could save around £3 a year in electricity. Multiply this across the fittings throughout the home and the savings soon begin to add up.

New lighting technologies are being developed and released very regularly, with highly efficient LED technology being packaged into a bigger and bigger range of fittings available to the industry and directly to the public. Price does still pay a big factor in the design and bulb chosen, but the increase in purchasing inevitably creates lower prices over time.

But the one bugbear of many a designer and client has been the overall design of the energy saving bulb – namely the ‘standard’ range available at the lowest prices.

The ‘column’ type bulbs can look rather stark and the ‘ice cream’ style bulbs also have a particular look which any not contribute to your scheme. This is, of course, a very personal decision between the designer and the client and we have used both of these low cost fittings to great effect – making no apologies for their shapes.

There is however, another choice for the energy saving bulb which addresses this design issue – the Plumen 001 bulb by Samuel Wilkinson for Hulger.

Working on the logic that the glass tubes that make up all of the standard energy saving bulbs can actually be bent in a whole variety of shapes, the Plumen 001 (and newly launched, smaller sized ‘Baby Plumen’) has rethought what an energy saving bulb can be.

Using ‘plumes’ of feathers as inspiration, the bulbs two twisting tubes create a sculptural form which changes shape as you move around the fitting.

The simplicity of the design actually creates a very complex and aesthetically pleasing form, which has been designed to sit, completely unclothed in a space, making it perfect for a statement ‘bare bulbs’ scheme.

It can however, be used to great effect when paired carefully with pendants – especially simple pieces which really let the bulb’s shapes shine, or enclosed glass fittings which ‘frame’ the bulbs like little pieces of art.

And this is exactly what Plumen’s new shade sets to achieve. The ‘Pharaoh’ shade has been designed for Danish firm Lightyears, specifically for the Plumen 001 and was launched at the recent Stockholm furniture fair. The simply shaped shade is mirror finished and appears a solid piece when the bulb is off, but as soon as the piece is illuminated the shade becomes transparent – enhancing the silhouetted shape of the bulb as the focus of the piece.

Alternatively, if you want to go super simple, the Plumen 001 can be paired with one of their newly developed pendant / drop sets, which are available in a series of colours and have been designed to completely contain the black section of the bulb, meaning that the form of the bulb sits directly beneath the fitting.

The beautiful thing about the Plumen 001 is just that – its beauty of sculptural form which brings energy saving bubs out of the ‘required’ box and into our ‘desired’ box when designing and specifying.

Visit for details on their bulbs and pendant sets.

Written by eco interior architect & designer guest blogger Claire Potter


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