Images by B. Alter
London's Grand Designs Live is the place to go if you are looking for the latest in design, technology and ideas for old and new homes. Its driving force, Kevin McCloud, who also has a t.v. show and magazine, is a passionate advocate of environmental building and the show reflects this interest.
In addition to naming his Green Heroes, and building 4 environmental model homes on site, he also has a Design Arcade. It's a subsidised space for up and coming designers so they can show their wares to a new and huge audience. We were delighted to discover the modernist printed bamboo cotton fabrics designed by a new fabric designer, theletterM there. The creator has just started selling her modern looking curtain and upholstery fabrics to the market. Her inspiration for them was old discarded piano rolls from player pianos. The ones she used for these fabrics were filled with Chopin concerts, so that's what you will see on your curtains. Each dash and dot relating to a note on the piano has been faithfully reproduced onto the fabrics. Another pattern was inspired by the pieces of a discarded printer; each one is reproduced on the material.
Another first-timer, direct from university, with her first display ever, is surface designer Tara Lyndsey Badger. She makes these lovely aprons and hand towels from pure natural unbleached cotton. She dyes them naturally, using the vegetables which she grows in her garden. So the red is from beets and the brown from birch bark, the yellow is marigold and the red is cabbage. Cutch root provides another shade of brown.
There was something very solid and almost Scandinavian about the table and chairs by Jody Leach. Called the Teanest, the chairs fit right into the table so that it is a compact unit for a small apartment. The table top and chair seat and back are made of birch plywood.
The Quadrex, by Jason Heap, is made out of sheets of oak, with a glass top. The sculptural form can be accentuated by using stained wood, rather than natural. He makes every effort to use wood from Britain in "order to support local business and good forest management."
Squint is a small furniture operation that has become very fashionable; seen in every exhibit of new British design and fashion. Famous for its patchwork upholstery, they take old sofas and chairs and rework them to make a bright and eye catching piece for a living room. Because the furniture is old and the fabric made out of old and new bits, each one is unique.