Designed In Hackney Day

On 1 August, online design and architecture magazine Dezeen and writer/curator Beatrice Galilee hosted an exciting day of design-themed talks at Hackney House, in partnership with Hackney Council.

There was a brilliant line-up featuring some of the most interesting architects and designers living and working in the East London borough of Hackney. Chaired by Marcus Fairs, we were treated to a jam-packed day of presentations and displays. The event also gave participants a chance to discuss both the opportunities and threats to creative businesses in this fast-changing part of London. It explored experimental design strategies that are emerging in the borough, with discussions involving leading Hackney critics and curators – all inspiring stuff!

There was a buzzing market area too, where local designers were able to show off their talents, and demonstrate their ideas. After having a good nosey around, we honed in on those with aspects of sustainability to their work.


While studying for her MA in Product Design, at the RCA in London, Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh had an idea. She didn’t want to “buy new stuff all the time”. She wanted to “hack” the things she already had so they worked better for her. The product she developed to make this happen is Sugru, the self-setting rubber for gadget lovers, or anyone who wants to improve or repair their stuff.

Sugru is a multi-purpose rubber that resembles modelling clay. It is malleable when removed from its airtight packaging, retains its mould-ability for thirty minutes and is self-curing at room temperature after approximately 24 hours.

It bonds to almost anything and, when set, is strong, flexible and grippy. It’s easy to clean with soap and water, and it’s durable in the harsh conditions of a washing machine or dishwasher – even in the sea. Tens of thousands of people in 76 countries are using Sugru to help with everything from fixing their sink to paragliding and deep sea diving.

This week the team at Sugru are particularly excited as James Davis, the youngest member of the GB fencing team, competing in the London 2012 Olympics, has used Sugru to make his weapon work even better for him.


This inspiring company is dedicated to helping people to produce and not just consume technology. Devices, gadgets and computers are a fundamental part of our everyday lives, yet most people know very little about what these things are made of, let alone how to fix them.

Technology Will Save Us believe we can all live more creative and sustainable lives by understanding what goes into the things we use daily, rather than simply throwing away what we no longer have use for. They are part of an exciting emerging shift in society, where people are finding inventive ways to re-skill and have the new-found potential to fix, re-use and re-purpose the things around them.

Their workshops are aimed at anyone and everyone who wants to learn the basics and get an introduction into simple electronics and building interactive projects – plus they have kits for all sorts of ingenious projects, such as DIY Speakers, a Thirsty Plant Indicator and the Lumiphone. Wonderful!


Oliver Goodhall and Holly Lewis, of architecture & design practice We Made That, are committed to conversation and collaboration in their work and not only want to engage with the communities they work in, they also want people to engage more with the environments around them – and believe you can’t do that by just talking about buildings.

As part of the ‘High Street 2012’ initiative, they were commissioned to produce a series of newspapers, which were published over the late summer months of 2011.

The Unlimited Edition is a super-local newspaper focused purely on the East London areas of Aldgate, Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road, Bow Road and Stratford High Street, with the intention to explore familiar surroundings and to celebrate and speculate on the possibilities that lie in future.

Guest writers, artists, urban designers and community members were invited to contribute creative snapshots of the area. The papers were distributed, for free, from dedicated news-stands.


Make Do & Draw blur the boundary of art and architecture. Geraldine Holland and Laura Georgina Smith run a multi-disciplinary studio, with multi-scale projects. Their work can be fleeting, or last for hundreds of years and all with the aim of creating enjoyable, magical and socially empowering spaces.

They are currently involved in a continuing East London Terrace research project, which involves inhabiting vacant or derelict shop spaces in East London with a view to revitalising them. They’ll lend their architectural services in exchange for the temporary occupancy of a vacant or derelict high-street shop. They want to catch the attention of local people and attract curiosity from visitors to the area, through theatrical events, which will house dramatic presentations of East London history and local stories.

As part of this project they have created pint-sized model buildings, at 1:100 scale, produced in flat-pack, so community members can build their own high street, creating a sense of involvement and ownership.

This month Make Do & Draw will be taking to the streets, or rather the canals, at London’s Floating Market, where they’ll be peddling their wares from their bike-driven cart.


A young and energetic architecture practice working on a diverse set of projects across the country, Studio Weave are known for fabulously creative and quirky work.

This beautiful construction, Paleys Upon Pilers, is an intricate timber palace that marks the spot of Aldgate and commemorates its most distinguished resident, Geoffrey Chaucer. It also celebrates the gateway from the City of London to the Olympic Park for the London Festival of Architecture 2012.

The historic eastern gateway into the City existed as a physical entity from Roman times until 1761. This grand structure now signals the vast transformation that this area is going to see, in terms of development, over the next decade.

Paleys Upon Pilers has a custodian in the shape of Geoffrey the Owl, who perches high up, keeping an eye on the world below him (in particular pigeons who are considering a fancy new home).


Something & Son is a design practice creating popular, provocative and witty solutions, while tackling the big design and social challenges of our time. They love seeing their ideas get out into the world, inspiring people to make positive change. Their projects are diverse, which has led them to work alongside swift experts, mushroom men, scrapyard merchants, farmers, scientists and sociologists.

Swift nest boxes take on the form of a setting sun. The first birds migrating from Africa should make the sculpture their home in 2012.

The transformation of a car into a park – an alternative to a city landscape dominated by cars.

“How much food can we grow in a shop?”. Something & Son began the transformation of a four storey empty shop into a farm at 20 Dalston Lane, London. Up and running since Spring 2011 they are now operating as a sustainable business growing fish, chickens and lots of salad, and running a cafe, workspace and events venue.

For more on Hackney House and to see the calendar of events visit

For more on Designed in Hackney visit