Grand Designs Live returned again this May to London’s ExCeL Centre, hosted by TV’s Kevin McCloud himself. It’s the perfect show for those seeking inspiration and expert advice for everything from home redecoration, to renovations, or even full scale self-build projects.
Each year, eco champion Kevin’s annual ‘Green Heroes’ exhibition celebrates the latest and best in sustainable design and innovations. “I keep a list in my phone or a note of who I meet and what I see, and we put it together as an exhibit. It is a great thing to see materialise” says McCloud “and is entirely focused on brilliant people who aren’t yet in the public eye, but who really deserve to be.” The exhibit is designed not only to inspire people, but also celebrates Grand Designs Live’s wider message of sustainable living.
Here are some of the designs that caught our eye:
The ROK Espresso Maker is hand-powered, so you can control how much of the coffee oils are released through the pressure you apply. By using hand pressure, coffee making becomes a more involving pleasure.
As you become more experienced you can fine-tune how you use the ROK to produce espressos to your personal taste. It uses no electricity, so it’s perfect for those picnics and camping trips too.
Check out the video below to see how it works.
Around 25% of the world’s food supply is lost to spoilage – berries can quickly turn to mouldy mush; beautiful greens go brown and slimy. This five-inch square paper is simply placed into refrigerator drawers, cartons, bags and containers, to preserve the life of our perishables.
A sheet can extend produce life by two to four times, without preservatives such as zeolite, sodium permanganate, charcoal, or plastic. The paper is comprised of edible organic extracts; the simple magic happens thanks to a mix of herbs that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. Sheets are used and reused over the course of two or three weeks and then can be composted.
Royal VKB’s water carafe is a self-cooling terracotta water container – even when it’s positioned in the sun. Through natural evaporation the temperature of the water inside will drop; increased heat on the outside causes more evaporation, cooling the bottle even more. A silicone base prevents scratching of surfaces.
Designer Paul Firbank is a scavenger around London town. He sorts and sifts through the scrap yards, railway arch grease shops and the thrift markets, searching out the remains of vintage engineered machinery – the scrap of British industrial history.
Restoring, welding, turning, stripping, polishing and lacquering, he develops each piece into beautifully designed objects, including lights, seats and desks. Paul recently appeared on Kevin McClouds Man Made Home where he helped Kevin design and create a reclining chair out of a vintage 1950s tractor.
Deckstool transform old skateboards, destined for landfill, into quirky, high quality stools and benches. Designs are based on how skateboards break during use and, due to the variable nature of recycled skateboard decks, every stool is unique and will feature a one-of-a-kind combination of art, scrapes, colours and graffiti.
The old boards are collected from skateboard shops and parks in the US and Canada. A portion of the money goes back to the shop, or to local skateboard projects.
This range is a great example of ‘closed loop recycling’. The same plastic plant pot, bought from the local garden centre last month, is recycled and back instore being sold as something else – for example, a bird feeder.
Based near Truro in Cornwall, ‘a short walk’ from the sea, this small design and manufacturing company offers a range of pioneering eco products, made from recycled plant pots and coffee cups. The waste plastic is shredded and reprocessed into new sheets of material. These sheets are then sanded, cut, cleaned and assembled into a variety of lovely products for us all to enjoy.
TGO Green Energy Gym Technology converts people power into electricity, through their cardio outdoor gym. They want us all to get more active, without having to pay exorbitant fitness centre memberships.
The company’s aim is to have Green Energy Gyms right across the UK, where people can keep fit, while at the same time making good use of the energy they burn off.
Human powered electricity is used to light the zone at night enabling people to use the facility for longer and any excess power can be fed into local buildings, or into the National Grid.
Right next door to Kevin McCloud’s Green Heroes was The Grand Village. We were tempted over to take a look at the spectacular Tree Tent, which also featured recently on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.
Tree Tent believe that forests are our future and, to sustain this future, forests need to be used for more than just harvesting timber. Research, conservation, work, play and retreat are all important activities that can be enjoyed as part of the forests cycle.
The Tree Tent concept is a culmination of over 3 years work and decades of experience in sustainable shelter systems and tree top living. The company wanted to develop an efficient lightweight structure using recyclable, recycled and natural materials.
The frame is made of aluminium and steam bent green ash, with a hard wearing cotton canvas skin. It can be self standing, or rigged between trees or buildings and is easily transported and assembled on site, with minimal impact on the environment.
This spherical 3 metre diameter shelter has room to sleep two comfortably. A thermal wool lining enables all year round camping and there are optional extras, such as a wood burning stove, water and renewable electrics to add to the comfort.
This year, Grand Designs Live launched a competition to find the London Garden Designer of the year. Four of the best design entries were built at the show, ready to be judged by the celebrity panel – James Alexander-Sinclair and Kevin McCloud. We particularly liked Andy Stedman’s up-cycled green getaway.
Andy has worked within the landscape industry for over ten years. He believes that ethical and environmental responsibility needs to be taken seriously and promotes the use of eco friendly, up-cycled and recycled materials in the gardens and landscapes he designs.
For the Grand Designs Live garden Andy used architectural salvage; RSJ’s, scaffolding poles and metal sheets created bold, contemporary statement features, which would require minimal maintenance.
The high screen fencing and feature pot wall provide extended areas of vertical planting, giving a sense of privacy, away from the surrounding city.