Tag Archives: Environmental

Wool House – The Campaign For Wool

Sheep_Wool_House (1)A lovely (and free!) exhibition on at Somerset house for the next 2 weeks is Wool House.

Featuring 8 room sets, 2 rooms dedicated to fashion and finally the work of artisans and crafts people; the Wool House showcases the diverse uses of a natural sustainable material.


Arriving in the entrance hall onto the deep pile Chequers carpet by Arabella McNie for Alternative Flooring your eyes shoot over to the  cuddly Mammoth Chair by Amy Somerville. Upholstered in Mongolian Longhaired sheep its a teddy bear of a chair. Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec’s Clouds for Kvadrat creep up the walls (yep they’re made from wool felt) and its makes a change to see this contemporary 3D piece in a classical building.

Crochetdermy_Brown_Bear_Shauna_RichardsonI’d love to snuggle down into the chair but a giant Crocheted (yes crocheted!) life sized bear hovers over it.The Crochetdermy piece is by artist Shauna Richardson I think you probably could sit in the chair but the bear does such a good job I couldn’t!

To take you on the wooly path, Cristian Zuzunaga‘s Infinity Carpet Runner manufactured by Brintons pulls you down the hallways into the adjoining rooms. Felt covered chairs by Ligne & Roset lining the halls.


For the room sets designers were given a different brief to demonstrate the versatility of wool. The rooms ranged from the soft country feel of Josephine Ryan’s Natural Room to the wild clashing colours of Anne Kyyro-Quin’s Modern Room and on to Donna Wilson’s adorable dream-like fantasy Nursery.


Josephine Ryan‘s Natural Room featured naturally coloured and coarser textured wools than the rooms. Inspired by her Celtic roots the chairs are made from recycled Arran jumpers by Champ Upholstery. Josephine used different textures mixing knitted and woven fabrics to created a layered look.



In sharp contrast Anne Kyyro-Quinn‘s Modern Room shows the wild colours you can apply to wool. Her work uses recycled felted wool thats been folded and pleated to create sculptural shapes.



My favourite room was Donna Wilson‘s Nursery. With its huge felt cloud with drops of rain hovering over the end of the Vi Spring‘s Childs Bed and a Sheep by Hanns-Peter Krafft for Thorsten Van Elten, it would be really hard not to love this fantasy dream space. The tree painted on to the wall and covered with Felt leaves made by Donna is a very stealable idea! I don’t normally advocate this but as the leaves aren’t available to buy…. And its very much in the craft tradition to share!


Donna_Wilson_Vi_Spring_Childs_Bed (1)

Donna_Wilson_Felt_Leaves_Wool_House_Nursery (1)



Which brings me on to the final room containing knitters and weavers who were demonstrating the basics. I love knitting, but I have to say, the hand weaving looks like a physically tough job if you had to do it 8 hours a day – they did have a smaller ‘hobby ‘ loom if you feel the urge to try this at home.



I was a little disappointed with the fashion rooms – I think all the fashion houses might be suffering London Fashion Week fatigue. It would have been wonderful if they’d have given this area over to some of the amazing graduates we churn out from our colleges.

That said its well worth catching this exhibition for any lovers of design – and apparently they will be real sheep arriving too!
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Precious mineral and metal resources have hit all time highs in terms of raw material prices. We may be in a banking crisis but the need for raw material isn’t showing any signs of a slow down. Big investors see safety in moving money into precious metals. The price and demand for copper in the UK has seen the organised theft of millions of pounds of cabling and even the Tube has been stopped by audacious thefts. It doesn’t end with copper; oil and coal have huge values. They also have unlikely aesthetic appeal too.Numerous designers have used copper of the past couple of years and it will continue to be a  popular material if only for is beautiful unique colour and shiney properties. But there is also a beauty in raw natural states.Faye_TooGood_Trapped_Sphere_Oil

At the London Design Festival Faye Toogoode showed a range of pieces  at Phillips de Pury that examine iridescence using oil as a medium.

Trapped Sphere is a piece that suspends oil in a solid resin block allowing the viewer to examine its beautiful iridescence. Its a work that objectifies this precious material and imprisons it. Its a dangerous material in so many ways; a pollutant and the cause of so many wars. We all know it as a valuable commodity but we rarely see it in its natural state. Captured in the sphere its a reminder of how the world is still so reliant on it.

Faye_Toogood_Element Table SteelElement Table made of sheets of  steel with the iridescent patina of oil metal

Lex-Pott_True_Colours_allLex Pott allows the metal to take on its natural colours. His experiments are shown in the first image on this post “When an element like copper is found in nature it has
a green colour. Iron has an orange / brown  colour when being found inside the earth. Oxidized metal surfaces create colours that provide information about a material. The pallete is a reaction with the base material.
Therefore the coloured surfaces have an organic growth
of colour and not every colour is possible on every surface. Colouring metals requires accurate recipes. This project shows the results of a research on metals and their true colours; a direct relationship between colour, material and information.”

Lex created a series of panels showing this organic growth across different metals in his work True Colours

Lex has gone on to apply the same process in True Colours ShelfLex_Pott_True_Colours_Shelf2Lex_Pot_True_Colours-Shelf_Detail

ballpoint_pen_minimalux_ Minimalux Ballpoint  is made of an almost indestructible solid brass. the unplated shell allows the metal to develop its own patina. “The basic ballpoint pen, or ‘Biro’ as it has become known, has been a useful accessory to our daily lives for many years. Its familiar, cheap plastic casing is synonymous with the product but also its disposability”.

SortofCoal_kuro_cube_largeSort of Coal is  a product that acts as a water and air purifyer  but is actually White Charcoal so not coal! White Charcoal has a higher carbon content than Black Charcoal and has no dust or residue.  Made using the same techniques and processes that have been used for centuries. In this ancient Japanese method pieces of wood are baked in hand-built clay kilns, slowly at first and then at extremely high temperatures with restricted oxygen. This allows carbon to be captured in the wood, a process called pyrolysis.Sort-of-Coal-kishu_binchotan_

Oddly enough for years I’ve had a large lump of Lancashire coal sitting on a shelf near to me. I found it in the cellar at home; we never had a coal fire so it must have been there for decades. It moved around with me as a reminder of home and because its surprisingly beautiful, with iridescent seams. I just thought it was pretty, now I’d like to think its been purifying the air around me too! (probably not)


A warm glow that harks back to an era of candle light; that’s all we really need now. We have so much light coming from the screen of a laptop or the television we don’t really need much more. Lighting can offer a sense of warmth, intimacy and enchantment; becoming a tactile experience, touching changes the light with different pools of light dappled across the room. Such a contrast to a bright single central light.These lights are not merely funcional but interactive installations.

Light_Tray_Daniel_RybakkenThe Light Tray by Daniel Rybakken The tray obscures the power source and gives the appearance of a self powered bulb. Sheathed in hand blown glass domes the intensity of the light can be altered by changing the configuration of the domes.

Candil_Alvaro_Catalan_de_OconCandil by Alvaro Catalan de Ocon offers a tactile experience; a modern version of candlelight as it has no off switch. You lift the bulb from the copper bowl to break the connection that powers the light.

Glow-Mike-Thompson-Gionata_GatoTrap Light a collaboration between Gionata Gato and Mike Thompson. Using a photo-luminescent pigment that was embedded into the hand blown glass body; the glass piece becomes both a shade and source of recycled light. The pigment traps and absorbs light from the conventional led bulb and emits 8 hours of ambient light from a single 30 minute charge. Its offers a wonderful way to save energy but with the slight snag that you can’t turn off the glow; so perhaps not one for the bedroom!

Junggi-Sung_Ember-LightEmber Light by Junggi Sung. The light is set into a wooden chamber and can be increased by pushing out of the chamber.