Eco-friendly

Warm up your Home with Modern Wood Burning Stoves

Scan 68 wood burning stoves

Scan 68 wood burning stove

As the cold weather persists and we all start piling on the extra layers, I’ve been thinking about changing the fireplace at home. I have an ugly electric fire that we never use which is housed in a horrible laminated orange fire surround. It’s pretty hideous. I’d really like to replace it with a fire surround that is a bit more chunky and industrial looking to fit with the look we’ve created in the living room. I’ve been looking since 2013 and nothing has really jumped out at me. Although Next now have a couple that I quite fancy. I also really like the idea of wood burning stoves. We totally don’t need one as the central heating is more than enough to keep our little flat toasty warm, but I just love the cosy atmosphere they create and you can’t beat the crackling and popping noises of burning wood, not to mention the smell. I’d like to think we could get the fireplace sorted for next winter but my list of home projects is extremely long so it might have to wait. We’ll see! Read More…

Axor Starck Organic World Premier in Berlin

Axor Starck Organic

A few weeks ago I received an invite from the very kind folks at Axor, the luxury arm of the German bathroom company Hansgrohe, asking me if I would like to attend the world premier of their new bathroom collection. Now as many of you know, I have had a particular interest in bathrooms and kitchens ever since I got my first proper writing job working for Designer Kitchen & Bathroom magazine (or Designer magazine as it was called when I worked there), so this invitation immediately caught my attention. And not only was the launch event going to be held in Berlin, but the new range is the  result of Axor’s latest collaboration with international design star Philippe Starck. How could I possibly say no? So I packed my bags, kissed my husband goodbye and off I jetted.

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Little Tree Furniture: Ethical & Eco-Friendly

Little Tree Furniture

Little Tree Furniture is a family-run business based on the South Coast of England in East Sussex. The company specialises in the creation of beautiful handmade hardwood pieces of furniture for inside and outside the home. The  materials that are used in the creation of the pieces are mostly hardwoods that are chosen for quality, durability and solidity.Where possible the materials are also reclaimed and recycled.

The concept for Little Tree was born in India where founder Neil Buckley Jensen worked, lived and travelled before returning to the UK to raise a family.  Consequently, many of the exotic hardwoods used in the pieces originate in India as do many of the highly skilled master craftsmen who create the furniture.

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Introducing BlogTourNYC Sponsor: Du Verre Hardware

Kitchen interior by In Detail Interiors featuring Du Verre Lotus hardware

Kitchen interior by In Detail Interiors featuring Du Verre Lotus hardware

There we are folks, another week has come and gone and its now only a day until I jet off to the Big Apple for BlogTourNYC. So here is another post in my BlogTourNYC series. This time I would like you to discover Du Verre Hardware, a leader in quality and original design for cabinet hardware. Working with highly respected designers from all aspects of the design world, Du Verre has created unique, design-driven collections of knobs and pulls for fine furniture and interiors. I was lucky enough to speak to Gina Lubin, CEO & Creative Director at Du Verre, and she told me a little more about the company and its involvement in BlogTourNYC. Read More…

Sustainable flooring

Dinesen's flooring planks are renowned for their length and width

For the January issue of Designer magazine I wrote an article about how the tough economic climate has prompted consumers and specifiers to opt for more long-lasting, better quality flooring products that have a reduced impact on the environment.

Flooring manufacturers are stepping up to meet the sustainability challenge and we are now seeing a vast array of eco-friendly flooring products on the market. Victoria Redshaw, founder and lead trend forecaster at Scarlet Opus, believes that the ‘trend pendulum’ has swung away from cheap and cheerful back towards quality and longevity.

“Post-recession, there is a strong focus on not wanting to be wasteful. Not wanting to waste time, resources, materials or money. Consumers will increasingly expect products to be long-lasting and kind…and that includes flooring,” she says.

“Flooring must now be designed with the heart as much as the head, by designers and manufacturers with a conscience who bow to environmental concerns, not just commercial concerns,” says Redshaw.

Whilst hard wood has always been a popular choice, many of the more exotic hardwoods are under threat from illegal and unsustainable logging practices. But luckily many manufacturers and retailers are now committed to sourcing their products only from certifiably sustainable sources.

Responsible sourcing
The forests from which Dinesen, a leading Danish manufacturer of plank floors, sources its wood are managed by the principles of “Dauerwald,” which means promising sustainably productive, profitable, environmentally stable, biologically diverse, and socially responsive forests, patterned after nature.

Kährs only uses high-grade hardwood for its top layer, whilst fast growing core materials are used below the joint.

Kährs of Sweden has a similar approach to eco-standards. Most timber is sourced locally with over 88 per cent of raw material sourced within a 124-mile radius of the factory in Nybro, Sweden. This not only reduces transportation costs but also allows Kährs to utilise waste wood; timber that cannot be used in floor production is converted into bio-fuel, which provides heat for the plant and the homes of 45,000 local residents.

Kebony, a Norway based producer, has developed an alternative to the unsustainable use of tropical timber for flooring. Through an innovative process known as ‘Kebonization’, the company is able to permanently change sustainable softwoods into hardwoods by impregnating them with a liquid derived from agricultural crop waste.

“This technology provides a global eco-solution to the major environmental challenge of rain forest deforestation,” says Christian Jebsen, CEO of Kebony.

Alternative woods
However, when it comes to the use of hardwood for flooring, some consumers and specifiers are seeking completely different alternatives to the traditional rainforest timber.

The Bamboo Flooring Company provides bamboo flooring as an alternative to traditional hard woods

Chris Elliot, MD of the Bamboo Flooring Company, believes that bamboo has many advantages over the more traditional hardwoods. “Bamboo is a cheaper raw material so the floors are around a third cheaper. They are as hard as oak and some, for example strand woven bamboo, are harder than any wood.”

Being a grass, as opposed to timber, gives bamboo the edge as not only a building product, but also as a sustainable resource: wood takes approximately 15-20 years to reach maturity, whereas the non-harmful harvesting of bamboo takes a mere 3 to 5 years.

Natural rubber
Whilst wood is always a popular flooring option, the question of sustainability has seen many other materials gaining in popularity, such as natural rubber. Rubber flooring manufacturer Dalsouple made the decision to improve the environmental profile of its products by going back to nature with the introduction of DalNaturel, a product that boasts over 90 per cent natural ingredients.

Dalsouple's natural rubber flooring is made from 90% natural ingredients

Natural rubber is a wholly renewable raw material. It is easy to recycle many times over, is long-lasting and is low in toxicity. The benefits it offers as flooring are myriad including the fact that it is tough, anti-slip and burn resistant, it feels soft and warm underfoot and has excellent noise absorption properties, is dust free, hygienic and easy to maintain.

Recycled content
The use of recycled content in manufacturing has also gained ground in recent years not only due to the environmental benefits, but also because, in most cases, it makes sound business sense.

Some ceramic tile manufacturers are also incorporating recycled content into the production process. Johnson Tiles of Stoke-on-Trent in the UK recycle 20,000 tonnes of ceramic waste from their own production processes and those of 14 other local ceramic manufacturers each year.

The ceramic waste, which includes plates, cups and saucers, is ground to a suitable size and added to standard ceramic materials to create the tile body. The recycled materials comprise on average 25 per cent of the raw material but can be as high as 36 per cent. Reusing this much ceramic waste annually saves approximately 24,000 cubic metres of landfill.

So it is easy to see that there is no shortage of eco-friendly, sustainable products out there that meet the needs of today’s increasingly discerning consumers and specifiers. Customers these days are looking for more: more quality, more longevity, more thoughtful production and above all more of a story.

“And this is when recycling, up-cycling and repurposing takes centre stage. Products with a history, a past life, a story to tell, this is what appeals,” says Redshaw.

Grand Designs Live

Grand Designs Live London is based on the successful Channel 4 show hosted by Kevin McCloud.  It is one of the UK’s leading consumer events for home, build, interior designs and cutting edge technology and building advancements, making it the perfect place for sourcing information on any home build or renovation projects.

The show is set to take place over nine days from 1-9 May 2010 and will combine cutting-edge design products, interactivity and an eco-friendly message.

Grand Designs Live is perfect for anyone who has an interest in interiors, build, kitchens, bathrooms,gardens, shopping, food, village and technology. With yearly exhibitions taking place in London and Birmingham, visitors will be able to buy, build and furnish a house, all under one roof. If you’re looking to make the most of your home, the show will provide you with plenty of amazing ideas to unlock its potential and turn your dream home into a reality.

Easy Living

Easy Living is a modular washing machine

Easy Living is a modular washing machine

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve needed to do washing but haven’t had enough to make up a full load of either coloured or white washing.

One design that could go a long way in solving this is called Easy Living, a concept which was conceived by French designer David Genin as part of this year’s James Dyson Award.

Easy Living is a perfect concept for those who want to do their washing individually. The system comprises a single wall unit that has three separate, detachable pods, ideal for when you want to do two or more loads of washing simultaneously.

It also offers an advantage for families or house-sharers in that the pods can be removed and used in individual rooms, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. They can be used to store dirty washing and when full they can be hooked up to the base unit.

And because each of the four drums is relatively small, the appliance uses less water and takes less time, therefore saving energy as well as space. Genius!

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