Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Studio Renier Winkelaar’s Convertible Wooden Windmill Table

Furniture that lasts.

Furniture that is constructed entirely without nails or screws!

Inspired by the lasting design of traditional Dutch windmills,  Renier Winkelaar designed an adjustable table that is held together with windmill-style gears.  Not only practical but it looks sensational.

Renier comments: 'With this concept I have designed a table named “craft 2.0”. In the design I had two rules of thumb. I wanted to use only one material and no modern techniques like for example screws. The table of 230 – 270 cm is made of oak and is only to put together by old connections. To slide out the table I have used gears and tooth hills. These gears operate by some kind of a ratchet, made from oak wood. And finally, the table looks really very cool!'

Friday, 13 February 2015

To Wallpaper or not to Wallpaper - that is the question. Featuring MDC Wall, Eco.Se, Madison & Grow

Top 2014 Eco Wallcoverings

I feel that wallcovering is a bit like a lost art. Wallpaper used to be a fundamental tool of the decor trade, is practical, hides a multitiude of textural sins, and wondrously dates a remodel.  Dates in a good way. It is so NOW, it creates such a vibrant and full atmosphere, it makes me sad there are not more out there with the courage to embrace the now and live in the present. Redecorate when the winds of taste change again in ten years until then enjoy it. I know this flies in the face of eco friendly design which centers around designing products and environments for life, but we mustn't lose sight of why we are doing this- we are still creating designer spaces for people to enjoy. If we use healthy responsible products I do not see a problem with using wild and sensational wallcoverings - if they make us happy!!!

I feature a few top picks below and if you read on you will see how you can make your own wallpaper adhesive.

Madison & Grow  - made locally in Pasadena provide a beautiful organic selection of soft color palettes, nature inspired and geometric designs.

Made across the pond in Sweden - Eco Wallpaper www.eco.se - their environmental policy is to have the least possible environmental impact in their manufacturing processes.  The paper is taken from one of the world’s most environmentally friendly forestry operations, with no clear-felling and with meticulous replanting of extracted forest. We do not use PVC or any harmful solvents, and all the printing inks and surface layers in the wallpapers are water-based. At Eco Wallpaper they have their own water treatment facility and conduct all production in combination with energy recovery.

(Dimensions Digital, Tweed & Revival)

For a more contemporary and perhaps commercial projects - MDC wall have a wide range of options. They have taken the time to have their products LEED rated, although sometimes I'm not convinced that this means that much. The MR credit 2 (avoiding landfill) for recycling just means that they accept back trim and scrap wallcovering to be recycled. That is putting the onus on the installer to make the product eco friendly. The MR credit 6 draws on renewable input materials like silk, linen, cottons, jute. This is all very admirable but are they actively contributing to the renewal process? One could argue as long as you used FSC wood paper supplies it was renewable. The MR credit 4 looks legitimately eco friendly with high percentages of recycled content. Still, hat's off for providing the detail into their product and manufacturing processes. I'm glad they will get specified for more LEED Projects as a consequence, raising awareness on a product's process and material inputs can only be a good thing!


DIY wallpaper paste

1 cup flour (wheat, corn, or rice)
3 teaspoons alum
10 drops oil of cloves (natural preservative)

 Combine the flour and alum in a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, set a smaller pan inside a bigger one that contains enough water that can be brought to a boil without overflowing). Add enough water to make a consistency of heavy cream; stir until blended. Heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to a gravy texture. Let cool. Stir in the clove oil. Pour into a glass jar with a screw top. Apply with a glue brush.
Makes 1 cup. Shelf life: 2 weeks refrigerated.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Leonardo Di Caprio's Eco Apartment

Sustainable Design is a word thrown about freely. We read with glee about this new company Delos taking health and sustainable living to a new level.

Consulting with the top institutions for health and wellness across the world, namely the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Columbia Medical School, the Delos Living approach marries science technology to architecture.

Unlike most eco-conscious construction companies offering LED lighting or incorporating recycled materials, the Delos approach takes green living to a deeper health level whilst still maintaining sharp eco interior design.

The team,  came up with such ideas as supportive flooring (to ease impact on hips, knees, and joints), circadian lighting (to improve sleep), and antimicrobial coatings for high-bacteria areas like kitchen counters and door handles. Not to mention vitamin C-infused showers, posture-supportive heat reflexology flooring, and optimal lighting to match your natural circadian rhythm—perfect for a celeb with an unusual sleep schedule.

If you don't believe us, call Leonardo di Caprio, he is all about going green. In addition to his Fisker Karma hybrid car, he owns two units at the eco-friendly 2 River Terrance in Battery Park City, and last year (Q1 2014) bought the below two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath apartment at the WELL Certified Delos residence in Greenwich Village.

We think this is very exciting, they are using beautiful sleek contemporary design and utilizing the ultimate in health and sustainability standards. Delos Living is committed to creating a WELL living standard - check them out - http://delos.com/

Monday, 9 February 2015

Kitchen Countertops- Soapstone

I'm a messy cook.  I can't be bothered with worrying about a spill of tomato sauce or a lemon on the counter while I am trying to get dinner on the table.  I need something that is low maintenance and forgiving.  Add that to a checklist of ecologically responsible and nice to look at and it becomes quite overwhelming to choose a kitchen countertop.  Lucky for you we have sorted through the labyrinth and chosen a few of our favorites to share with you.  As always, there are pros and cons to each choice and your location and lifestyle will play a large part in the equation. Today, we are highlighting soapstone.


This material has been a favorite for kitchen, baths and fireplaces for hundreds of years.  In fact, this material will more than likely, outlive you and your project.  The most eco friendly choice would be to find a slab or sink from a previous project to re purpose in your home. It is not a renewable resource and the transportation is costly.  Stone harvested from Brazil may be damaging the eco-system and should be avoided.  

It is maintenance free.  Yes, it's true.  It requires no sealing and wipes clean with soap and water.  It is a softer stone than granite and it may wear at the corners or nick if you drop a heavy pot.  These "flaws" blend with the natural patina of the stone and add character and warmth.  If you don't like the sound of that, simply buff out any stains with a fine sandpaper and oil once a year to even out the color.  Color varies from grey to black with veining that resembles marble.  Some slabs can have a green cast. The darker colors are more dense and better suited for high use areas. 

Alberene Soapstone offers a kitchen in a box. All you need are a circular saw, jigsaw, drill/driver, grinder, and a sander to assemble your counter top and back splash.  

Fits into any design style- vintage, contemporary, traditional.  This stone is a chameleon.  
Maintenance free- Withstands high heat, is non porous, non reactive, and easy to clean.  
Easy to repair-fix any stains or nicks yourself with sandpaper and oil or wax.
Long lasting- this stone will outlive all of your other design choices.  

Not a renewable source- check the provenance before purchasing.  Pass if the stone was quarried in Brazil.
Not locally sourced for most of the world.

Here are some images of beautiful kitchens that highlight the versatility of soapstone.  



Read Anything Good Lately? Green Accessories

Italy-based Gartenkulter pays tribute to the plant and tree with these beautiful planters made from old and disused books. By removing the heart of the book’s cover and pages and then creating a seal, the book becomes a home for a living and growing tree.

 “As each seed becomes a plant or tree, the book becomes a pot or cradle.”