In the Channel 4 series Man Made Home, Kevin McCloud has gone off grid to build a cabin in the woods. He’s been recycling, re-using and re-purposing to create his very own self-designed and self-built haven, a place where he can unhook himself from the madness of modern life and watch the sun go down.
Kevin set out to fulfil his boyhood dream of owning a shed in the woods and to recapture a pleasure he believes many have lost: making things with our own hands. His cabin is in contrast to the world of relentless mass production and is packed with ingenious design solutions.
Kevin bought himself a beautiful piece of woodland in rural Somerset and, together with a hardy band of friends and experts, rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He decided that everything had to be made by hand from his woodland, and if it not, then it had to be sourced from somebody else’s rubbish.
His hand-made haven is a shed of architectural ambition, oak framed and shingle clad. Kevin said: “This is the shed of my imagination; a shedtastic opportunity to explore off-grid ways of living, meet craftspeople of all ages and disciplines and ask whether living a life where we make and do is better than one where we simply buy and consume”.
As Kevin wanted to reuse and recycle as much as possible, among other things, he’s turned a 1930s heavy steel safe into a wood burning stove, built a cheese floor – an ancient Viking invention, made glass from scratch using sand and has made fuel from poo.
In Episode 3 Kevin’s cabin is habitable, but he has yet to add the vital furnishings to turn it into a comfortable home. And, as the cabin will be a place of rest, Kevin decided to make an armchair, hiring The Rag and Bone Man, Paul Firbank to help.
We, at Designsonearth, met Paul recently at design show Tent London and can vouch for him having bags of skill in turning the most unlikely items into things to treasure – he’s the one who designed the amazing chandelier above, which we featured in a previous article. Now, in his Hackney workshop, East London, he helped Kevin design and create the awesome chair on the front porch, out of a 1950′s tractor.
Dubbed the “Designer Recliner”, Paul constructed an ingenious adjustable reclining mechanism to provide ultimate comfort. The seat was finished with a naturally hand-prepared deer skin, which was expertly fitted by leather specialist Bill Amberg.
The Rag and Bone Man also has a shop if you’d like your own piece of the industrial era. Watch him at work in his regular job, here:
For more off-grid inspiration don’t miss the final episode of
Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home next Sunday:
Episode 4, Sunday 14 Oct, 8pm, Channel 4
And for details on how to go about building your own Man Made Home (which we all now want to do!) check out the Channel 4 Scrapbook.
Programme images courtesy of Channel 4.