GRAND DESIGNS LIVE
McClouded at Grand Designs Live, NEC Birmingham
Exhilarating. Innovative. Homemaker heaven. Just a few words to describe what Birmingham witnessed during one particular weekend. 8-10 October saw the National Exhibition Centre become over populated with design devotees worshipping the latest offerings from the world of home design at Grand Designs Live. The three day event: a spin off the renowned Channel 4 programme Grand Designs which focuses on unusual architectural house-building projects encompassed the latest innovations in interiors, garden, bathrooms, kitchen, and gardens. For daring home enthusiasts were seeking an architectural adventure complete with a technological thrill, plentiful building advice was on offer.
The London Fashion Week equivalent for architectural aficionados, Grand Designs Live almost felt like it offered attendees the opportunity to feel as they were let loose in some sort of play land for grown ups. Sampling was the key term of the day, be it luxuriating in the folded stroke of a real cow hide from Chelsea based City Cows Cowhide or slipping to the Grand Food zone for a spot of culinary therapy. The exhibition failed to disappoint as each design zone was spilling with design inspiration, crammed with solutions for comfortable living and how to further beautify your abode, with a particular emphasis on eco-friendly living. Thought provoking and highly educational seminars were hosted throughout the day and we at BSF got to sharpen our home improvement skills by soaking up wise words from architect and Channel 4′s Home Show and Restoration Man presenter George Clarke whilst he interviewed several architecture and design experts. Meandering through the array of exciting exhibitions, we were talent-analysing; looking at the next step being taken in interior design and architectural evolution and particularly how these two areas are tapping into the modern homemaker’s psyche. So here’s to the highlights of Sunday 10 October at Grand Designs Live.
A fifteen minute pit stop at the House of the Future within the Grand Technology zone left us awestruck. Displaying the could be’s of tomorrow’s homes, the short presentation exhibited breath taking domestic devices at the forefront of technological innovation. The stunning display of gadgetry consisted of products from WiPower, the first completely wireless power technology to be seen by consumers, the Aqualisa HiQu Digital Shower, Mi-Hub Opus Stand, Brazza Velvet oven, Innova Radio from Roca, and many other exciting . With the key aim of proving to onlookers who were fast turning into the waiting list collective for these gadgets, that technological innovation and comfortable living can go hand in hand, we at BSF picked out our favourites fast: The Eco Cleaner: a portable dishwasher and composter that uses ultrasonic waves to ionise food and turn it in to reusable waste (pictured above). Brazza Velvet Oven was another firm favourite. A smart oven that has a full touch screen interface and is easy to clean due to its lack of buttons and handles, opens automatically and calls an engineer itself when something’s wrong!
Mundane bathroom trips are well and truly over thanks to the Innova Radio by Roca with built in touchpad allowing the user to select from stereo FM radio, lighting, demister device, clock, room temperature display and also offers the possibility of connecting a secondary audio source. Wandering in to the Grand Village zone, we were placed into the centre of tomorrow’s vision for eco-building and living in a way that nurtures the environment yet still retains the aesthetic quality expected of a future build. Taking a mini tour of the Pilotis: a recently completed project by experimental architecture and designs specialists Gaukroger consisting of low-tech pods made from English chestnut shingles and a ribbed timber frame stilted on Douglas Fir stilts to reduce heat loss in the winter and aid cooling in the summer and also highly insulated, reducing the need for heating. The inspiration behind the pods is ‘up-cycling’ taking buildings that are considered not worth saving and bringing them back to a habitable state by adding lots of insulation through sustainable resources.
The interior was catered for just as specifically with a modern emphasis on vintage collectables from bygone era’s, retro inspired hand-printed screen prints produced at Sheffield based art company Archipelago adorned the walls, and minimalist vibe was present with glass and leather based furnishings. Once inside the Archipod Garden Office from the garden architecture specialists, we found it impossible to leave, The design concept consists of a 3m diameter sphere constructed predominantly from timber, the world’s most replenish-able construction material and is the eco-friendly alternative for working from home. No more hefty travel costs, road rage or tolerating commuters with a distinct smell about them!
Traipsing gleefully around the Grand Interiors and Grand Arcade zones really was the focus of the day. Adorable and mesmerising design secrets all lined up together made this somewhat of a treasure hunt and some treasures did we find! From quirky music offerings at WoWee, with the WoWee One portable speakers that attach to any surface, transforming it into a speaker and quite frankly turning any situation into a party, to becoming artistically spellbound by the bespoke collection from artist Clare Wright at Zenith Art, Her work consists of a contemporary mix of colour, texture and diverse materials including liquid glass, metals and Swarovski crystal.
Shropshire based interiors company Direct Interiors brought along what is probably the largest know candle to mankind and contemporary art shone thorough at Allan Forsyth who presented stunning art pieces created by digitally manipulating photographs and printing and bonding them onto various materials. One particular Allan Forsyth collection favourite was the Pull Through. A particularly eye-catching stand in the Grand Arcade belonged to This Is A Limited Collection: an aptly named contemporary art company working with over 50 internationally renowned artists and design studios to create limited edition art prints, canvases, home wares and other art wares. Drinking bucket loads tea and doing it ceremoniously is a truly English tradition and what better way to enjoy this fine beverage than sipping it in a This Is A Limited Edition Staffordshire Bone China demitasse cup and saucer, all the while being humoured by the unique prints adorning the set. We are absolutely lusting over the Abraham Obama tea set designed by This Is A Limited artist Ron English, and from November 2010 onwards, This Is A Limited Edition will be stocking at Harrods. Oh joy!
Cola Red had us swooning over their authentic 50′s retro furniture, specially made in North America since 1946. Perfect for that 60′s diner experience; just add the beehive hair-do and a hypnotic print dress! The House of Ugly Fish was another art hotspot at Grand Interiors, showcasing stunning tailor-made fused glass artwork and lighting in an array of strong colours; perfect for sprucing up an unexciting room with a splash of colour. Orloff Creations was one particular name that really had our attention wedged on their dramatic art glass creations.
Using the latest printing technologies, Yorkshire based Orloff Creations specialise in capturing your choice of images into high quality glass to produce a high quality back drop for your favourite place. With each image limited to ten prints worldwide, Orloff Creations is the epitome exclusivity. My Living Space created a spectacle providing an alternative and individual take on modern living. The savvy designer home ware producers had on display exclusive furnishing and other decorative ornaments almost impossible to source on the high street. From eccentric lampshades to vogue fondue sets; from Norman Copenhagen Cognac Glasses to an interesting array of chopping boards, My Living Space really showed you how to create your living space; one that’s a little less ordinary.
Picks of the day for BSF had to be the Diva Worktop Saver by Joseph Joseph; a clever little table lighter from Block and the Big Egg Pod Chair from Febland Specifications. One of each please! Having been through the best of nouveau home decorations and gadgets which amplify the bass in your life, we finally came across the more endearing side to interior decoration in the form of Jan Constantine’s Hand Embroidered Heirlooms of the Future. Patriotic prints were rife at the Jan Constantine stand with a charming collection of hand embroidered cushions in vintage rose, pop art, modern gingham, luxurious velvets and crystal designs. Apart from cushions, Jan Constantine’s line consists of nightwear, rugs; scarves and china ornamented with her bold designs and we particularly loved the beautiful display of hand embroidered cushions decked out on a vintage sofa. A true depiction of eclectic meÂ romanticised ets quintessentially English; Grand Designs Live also welcomed the launch of Jan Constantine’s Christmas collection alongside showcasing her beautiful new ˜Deck of Cards” Collection.
Article by Farhana Nazir
Photos by Farhana Nazir