How to Embrace the Wabi Sabi Design Concept

How to Embrace the Wabi Sabi Design Concept

The perfectly imperfect way to welcome a simple, authentic and natural style of living.

Now is the time to search for the beauty in the disorder; gently expose weaknesses and reveal new strengths. This trend explores resilience and recovery when things breakdown; it is a quest for truth and realness. At its core is ‘Wabi-Sabi’ – the Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection and the art of ‘Kintsugi’ – repairing damage and breakages with precious materials.

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Plastic Pollution; The heart-breaking reality

Plastic Pollution; The heart-breaking reality

The Time Is Now…

For those of you who watched the BBC’s Blue Planet II you will understand why we feel strongly about raising this issue on our blog once again. Sir David Attenborough’s documentary movingly highlighted the growing problem of ocean waste. The episode investigated the detrimental effects that plastics have on the health of our oceans. They pulled on the heart strings of viewers by showing a whale carrying its dead newborn around – killed by human activity in relation to the chemicals found in plastic waste.

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Ocean Waste inspiring #BeautifulDesign

Ocean Waste inspiring #BeautifulDesign

Tackling our ocean waste is a growing concern which we see many innovative designers addressing through modern practices. Considered design is now essential to product development, from the recycling of materials to the impact it has on the environment; in particular the damage it does to our already polluted oceans. Designers have to re-think, re-invent and re-evaluate ways to prevent waste and sustain our natural resources.

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Scientists estimate that about 8 million tons of plastic debris such as food packaging and plastic bottles are being washed into the oceans each year. With this in mind, we have put together a selection of our favorite designers that aspire to raise awareness of protecting and preserving our oceans. From fashion lines to interior product, here are 6 interesting projects that demonstrate the beauty in ocean waste.

  1. Sportswear brand Adidas with British Designer Alexander Taylor launched a prototype shoe with an upper made entirely from yarns and filaments produced using plastic salvaged from the ocean.Adidas
  2. Studio Swine have created a collection called Gyrecraft which includes five pieces that incorporate plastic trawled from the oceans. This piece is named North Pacific Gyre and is made from brass, sea plastic, green abalone shell, rope and shackle.Studio swine
  3. Interface have developed a collection named Net Effect™, a product range inspired by a project called Net-Works™ which collects discarded fishing nets and recycles them into yarn for carpet tiles. The Net Effect™ design is offered in beautiful textures and color reflective of the Ocean.interface
  4. Studio Nienke Hoogvliet is a textile, product and concept design studio based in the Netherlands. RE-SEA ME is a project aiming to ‘raise awareness of the waste issues we have in the oceans’. It aspires to show the beauty of materials we find in the sea in the hope to inspire people to work with them more often. Nienke creates beautiful leather out of fish skins which are a common waste product of the fishing industry. Studio Nienke Hoogvliet
  5. Pharrell Williams launched a collection with G-star Raw. “RAW for the Oceans” is a collaborative project retrieving plastic from the ocean and transforming it into denim. A step-by step-explanation of how they transform the waste plastic from the ocean can be found on their website.  g star raw
  6. Bureo creative skateboards from recycled plastic fishing nets found on the coastlines of Chile. Each skateboard prevents more than 30 square feet of harmful plastic fishnets from entering the ocean while providing support to local Chilean fishing communities. The company succeeds in demonstrating a positive, educational and creative way of addressing the growing problem of ocean plastic pollution. bureo
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Travel Tips from a Trend Forecaster

One of the best aspects of being a Trend Forecaster is all the travelling I do.  I enjoy seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, trying local food and indulging in a spot of shopping. However it’s not until very recently that I’ve come to enjoy the actual travelling part of travelling i.e. the whole tedious flying thing.  I thought it was awful, but it turned out I was just doing it wrong!

So far this year I’ve spent just under 160 hours on planes and in airports.  Here’s what I’ve learnt that could make your next flight better:

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1. Your feet are going to swell a little during a flight and, weird as it sounds, making your feet feel comfortable is a key component to you feeling comfortable. No, sitting in your socks or expecting the people around you to tolerate your bare feet isn’t ok.  Get some slippers that squish into your hand luggage easily, or better still buy some soft shoes that roll or fold up.  I like these stone blue & gold leather ballet pumps from Cocorose London that fold up to fit neatly into a handbag.  Learn from my soggy mistake – slippers with fabric soles are a disaster if you plan on using the toilet on board!

2. Don’t eat inflight meals if you can help it – they’re generally disappointing at best and tasteless mush at worst.  Although there is a temptation to eat and drink everything offered to you, simply because it’s being offered to you, it can make you feel bloated.  Your body has enough stuff to deal with during a flight without adding food digestion to the mix! I tend to eat at the airport well before I board the flight.  We often begin our outward journeys out of Heathrow so if I have time I eat at Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant.  But I always carry a bag of nuts and a small packet of biscuits with me in case I get peckish and my blood sugar gets low during the flight.

3. No matter how warm the temperature is in the city you’re flying out of or to, at some point during the flight they’re going to turn the cabin thermostat to freezing!  Sure you could use the blanket the airline provides, but after a girlfriend of mine got a nasty skin rash from one, I prefer to take a large scarf.  Small enough to loop onto the handle of my hand luggage (using a Parisian loop knot) or worn around my neck – I then use it as a leg blanket, pillow or wrap during the chilly periods of a flight.  I love this handwoven ombre effect merino wool wrap from Uruguay-based Etsy seller Claudia Rosillo, trading as Texturable.  She ships worldwide!  I also tend to wear bamboo tops when I travel because of the inherent temperature control qualities of bamboo and the amazing comfort.  I buy mine from No Balls in the UK.

4. Everyone knows you need to stay hydrated during a flight, and lots of people now carry their own water canister.  However not as much consideration is given to how dehyrated your skin can get from the dry air circulating on planes during a long flight.  To avoid walking through the Arrivals Lounge looking like a dried-up prune I use a mini thermal spring water face spray from La Roche-Posay (a tip from Miss P in Dubai) and ‘All About Eyes’ eye cream from Clinique to reduce puffiness or dark rings, plus Applelicious Glossy Lip Balm (in Caramel Apple) from NewYorkColor to stop my lips from getting dry.

5. The headphones handed out by airlines during flights are RUBBISH!  The sound quality is sooo bad and they’re often uncomfortable.  On my last trip to Australia I invested in Bose SoundTrue headphones in Mint.  All time great decision!

6. When we’re doing any trip overseas that involves more than one flight I always take a full change of clothes for a quick outfit refresh in the transfer airport toilets.  Obviously this requires a handbag large enough to carry a change of clothes, wash bag etc… but I also use my bag as a kind of foot rest on flights, placed under the seat in front of me (I can sleep better on flights if my knees aren’t in a bent position).  I spotted this great canvas travel tote bag from Bags Wish, which has plenty of space and lots of handy compartments.  Roll your clothes – they take up less space this way and it stops them from creasing as much.

7. I find the middle period of long flights the worst.  I’ll have watched a movie, done some work, had a little snooze, eaten my biscuits, made a list of some sort (I love making lists). But then I look at my watch and we’re only half way through the flight and I’m in despair.  If I need to kill a couple of hours and have a sense of escape, so I can totally forget where I am, I read.  I always take a good book on flights.  Recently my reading companions have been Jon Ronson, Lionel Shriver and Andrea Zittel.

8. As soon as I get on a flight I change my watch to the local time in the destination I’m travelling to.  I find it helps me to begin to psychologically adjust to my new time zone before I get there.  I simply convince myself that, that is now the actual time.  Right now I’m LOVING the understated design of this genuine carrara Marble watch by Australian brand AÃRK – style at its most simple.

Miss V

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Design Trend Seminars – Why hold, or visit One?

A couple of weeks ago we were invited by Connection to give a talk, on their behalf, in their new London Showroom. They would invite the audience of Interior Designers, Architects and specifiers working in the commercial sector.

The Connection showroom is a special place, it’s design is all that you’d expect of a company actually ‘living what they preach’ about the agile workplace and employee wellbeing and freedom. The showroom is brand new designed to resemble an industrial loft apartment, an urban workspace and a home; it successfully achieves this. It’s what we would describe as #SOCool!

One special feature about the sharing attitude Connection has is remarkable, anyone can pop in and work there for a while. Stef Dickinson is the showroom manager and a really welcoming person so go say hello to her. Experience the really great product, use the free WiFi, have a tea, coffee or cold drink and they won’t charge you anything for this generous courtesy. Of course, the expectation (not obligation) is that you will sign up for a newsletter, or if you know a potential client for them that you’ll tell that person of your experience. It is in our view, a really fair swap, a central London hot-desk, meeting space or temporary office (only miles better than the corporate one’s available and sooooo much better than a hotel lounge) in return for you providing them some good PR with people they can trade with. It’s a nice way to do business a ‘swapping of kindnesses’.

Hi Level ' Farmhouse Kitchen' Meeting Table
Hi Level ‘ Farmhouse Kitchen’ Meeting Table

Of course, we are always very keen to work with such a company and we are hoping to be at the start of a long partnership with Kelvin and his team at Connection; so we took the assignment!

Below is a short blog that Niall – the Marketing Expert at Connection – wrote about the event that we thought would be nice to share with you.

 

The events are ‘no selling’ events, providing a very comfortable, safe networking opportunity in a lovely environment with truly mouth-watering finger food and several glasses of the drink of your choice. If you want to enquire about Connection product at the time then you’re free to, or you can follow-up at another time.

Anyway, this is what Niall wrote:

Scarlet Opus seminar in London 

We’d asked the Scarlet Opus team to author a seminar for us about the ‘agile’ workplace and about Key trends that are influencing workspace product design. At Connection we believe that being ‘agile’ isn’t about how high you can jump, it’s about creating a variety of work settings that deliver spatial efficiency, personal productivity and corporate expression. It’s about providing a high performing workspace that meets your business needs today and in the future. 

We recently opened our Clerkenwell showroom doors and in partnership with Scarlet Opus we delivered an evening dedicated to the key trends that are informing workplace and product design.

Stef Dickinson, Showroom Manager, greets guests
Stef Dickinson, Showroom Manager, greets guests

Scarlet Opus have given seminars for us previously and the standard is always very high (if you haven’t yet been to one of these seminars, do keep an eye out when we announce more!). And the bar was kept high again, courtesy of the very engaging Victoria Redshaw.

She loves a talk ... and a Prosecco!
She loves a talk … and a Prosecco!

Victoria brought a range of themes to life. These included agile working, ‘digital nomads’, the productivity ‘tension’ between social and focus spaces and collaborative learning. A wide-ranging but fascinating, interconnected set of ideas and conversation catalysts.

Scarlet Opus Seminar in London ROOM

It was good to see that we are in the right place with both our product R&D and existing portfolio. Products such as Hive Cubbi and Tryst ‘speak’ to the demands and needs of multi-use, agile spaces, something that Victoria discussed during her talk. And the fabrics we use are definitely on target in terms of surface design, colours and materials used.

Don’t take our word for it though, have a look around the website and get in touch with us. And if you missed this seminar then don’t worry: we’ll be running more with Scarlet Opus on a regional basis as well as in the London showroom. See you soon we hope!

From Team Opus, thank you for your kind words Niall and thank you for building Victoria up to such an extent we now have the week to hear all about it from her!!

If you’re interested in discovering more about how our Trend Seminars can work successfully for you as a PR or Prospecting event then email phil@scarletopus.com or give him a call to chat it through +44 7896 088 996

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Garden Trends: Bringing the indoors outdoors

Back in March I was asked for an interview by a journalist putting together a feature on domestic gardens for the Sainsbury’s Bank/Guardian co-hub.  They wanted a glimpse of possible changes 10 years into the future, specifically how the way we use our gardens in the UK might change.  I’d like to share that interview and our predictions with you here.  If you are a UK Home Builder; Interior Designer; Garden Landscaper; Outdoor Product Retailer, Manufacturer or Designer the following insights are essential reading.
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ABOVE: Grid modular outdoor teak furniture from Gloster

Q1. As we shift increasingly towards thinking of our gardens as an ‘extra room’, are there shifts in the way we might think about them as a space – more or less decorative, for instance?

Victoria: Over the next decade we forecast a strong shift towards using our gardens in the UK much more as multi-functional outdoor rooms.  The trend for bringing the outside inside is well established, but for the future we advocate the concept of bringing the inside outside!

What will this mean?  Well firstly it will mean really comfortable, quality furniture and accessories, more usually associated with living room and dining area styles, being incorporated into outdoor room schemes.  And overall the look becomes more decorative, from lighting and outdoor rugs to stylish outdoor storage pieces akin to sideboards, it has a less temporary feel about it and a much more considered decorative style … the same level of decorative consideration we would give to our living rooms or bedrooms.  Of course adaptable covered areas that allow us to stay outside when the inevitable UK rain comes will also need to be incorporated into designs (climate change in the UK could simply mean hotter, wetter weather).  It’s about creating a sense of home in our gardens no matter where we live or how small the outdoor space is.

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ABOVE: 1. Stylish Frame chaise longue from Paola Lenti with a braided rope fixed cover, deep seat pad & cushions.  2. Outdoor Blue Hydrangeas Pillow by London-based Etsy seller Amanda Jane Dalby.  Amanda’s stunning photos are printed onto weather-resistant & fade-resistant polyester poplin fabric, which is then individually cut & sewn by hand to make the final double-sided cushions.  They are such a clever and simple way to add extra floral colour to an outdoor seating area (I have her White Hydrangea Pillows on my terrace!).  3. Alison Iroko Outdoor Furniture from Minotti’s new 2015 collection.  The squared-off, architectural lines and bold use of exotic Iroko Heartwood make this a quality outdoor furniture statement.

Victoria: We will also need to incorporate fast, effective heating solutions that enable us to relax, cook, eat, entertain and work in our gardens during any season, even when the weather is cooler.  Plus we predict a move away from ‘drag it out/store it away again’ barbeques and instead an investment in modular outdoor kitchen solutions, which allow the preparation of food to take place outdoors, as well as the actually cooking.

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ABOVE: 1. The WWOO Outdoor Kitchen, created by designer Piet-Jan van den Kommer, is a virtually maintenance-free prep’ & cook area made up of personalised components, which are set along a modular wall, and can include a Big Green Egg, stainless steel sink, integrated steel fireplace, South African braai, rugged wood storage crates and olive-wood cutting boards. 2.This stunning outdoor kitchen was built by Australian-based company Brick and Stone Construction (contracted by Harrison Landscaping for a project in Mosman, on Sydney’s North Shore).  The kitchen includes a wood fired pizza oven, BBQ grill and sink. The splashback & bench top are hand cut & polished Bluestone, and the doors are made of Cedar.  3. This cleverly concealed outdoor kitchen was created for a home in Brighton (the one in Melbourne!) by Interior & Landscape Designer MR.MITCHELL.  The reclaimed Australian hardwood adds visual warmth and softens this otherwise minimalist, grey outdoor area.  4. This super stylish prep’ & cook area includes a Belgium-made traditional wood-burning open fireplace by metalfire.

Q2. What about using gardens as playspace, especially for children: do you think that is going to change (and if so, will that affect the look or feel, or indeed the equipment we keep in them)?

Victoria: Creating garden spaces that allow free, unstructured play for children is an increasingly important focus for many parents, as is enabling fun opportunities to exercise.  Purpose built, recreation park quality outdoor play features, from climbing walls to mini skatepark ramps, will provide children with secure spaces at home to play, practice skills and exercise.  This could lead to an increased demand for all-weather safety flooring, better outdoor lighting solutions and even products as simple as outdoor drinks dispensers.

An emphasis on discovery and learning associated with environmental awareness and food origin also drives a trend for dedicating space to mini allotments for children within the garden.  And therefore practical problem solving associated with this, like having outdoor hand washing facilities available for children to use, will also begin to be addressed.  

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ABOVE: 1. An amazing home skate circuit in the garden that still looks great because it incorporates planting.  2. A home rock climbing wall out on the patio by Elevated Climbing Walls 3. Vegetables, salad & herbs grown in small, raised, colourful boxed beds/patches that are manageable for children to maintain and inexpensive to make.  4. A brilliantly simple, inexpensive but effective vertical garden solution for small children.

Q3. Will we have, overall, just less room in gardens?

Victoria: Population boom projections and mass migration to cities mean that smaller homes, and therefore smaller gardens, are very likely in the future for many places around the world.  Often in the UK we make the mistake of thinking about an outdoor area as a flat space, and that limits its potential.  We will need to be smarter about how we use the space in our gardens by creating multi-levels, buying multi-functional furniture or furniture that also incorporates storage space, as well as utilising wall space in creative ways, for example using wall space to create vertical gardens to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit or fold down desks that create a work desk outdoors in the sunshine!

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