Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Bike Shelf by Chris Brigham (Knife & Saw)

Space is a premium for inner city living. So storage solutions must really work to help maximise every available inch. For anyone with a bike you will know just how frustrating it is to find a safe, handy place to put it. Leaving it on the street is just asking for trouble and so they find their way into the apartment and end up propped up against a wall. No doubt your bike will be conveniently placed so you can then spend your life tripping over it.

Chris Brigham at Work

I imagine Chris Brigham, the creative genius and mastermind behind Knife & Saw must have thought the exact same thing when he created the Bike Shelf. This is a man of many talents from graphic designer, photographer and now furniture designer. Custom made from solid wood the Bike Shelf can be adjusted to your personal preference and to ensure it fits your bike. Continue reading

Seeing Red in London – The Return of the Routemaster

I can still remember my first trip to London and even now when I think about London I see RED.

Not anger but the actual colour. As a child, wide eyed with excitement, it seemed that everything cool & interesting was boldly highlighted in a shade of RED:

  • From the changing guards at Buckingham Palace
  • The Life Guards (Household Cavalry) as they trotted by, in St James Park
  • The wonderful K6 (Kiosk no6) phone boxes 
  • The Royal Mail pillar boxes
  • The tube signs that stood as markers for the entrances that led to almost Tolken-esk mystical journeys into London’s own Mines of Moria to board the tube. Mind the Gap!

Changing the Guard at Buckingham PalaceLife Guards trotting past

Red Phone Box

Royal Mail Pillar Box

Mind the Gap!

And of course the double-decker Routemaster bus. As a small boy there was something amazing about seeing London from this vantage point.

A Small Boys Souvenir of London - the Double Decker Bus

Maybe it was the height that gave you such a unique perspective on London life. A new side of the city appeared around every turn from monuments to glamorous hotels, streets with their beautiful Victorian & Edwardian architecture to the high-rise towers of modern living… it was the city landscape that you never got to see on the tube.

The Routemaster Double Decker Bus

Or maybe it was the simple childlike pleasures of racing up the narrow stairs to get the seat right at the front, above the driver. Then there was the thrill, as you got near your destination, when you raced back down the stairs to the “hop-on hop-off” rear platform and as the bus slowed, leapt out.

Hop On Hop Off - The Platform to Your London Adventure (photo by A Hudson, Getty Images)

When, at the end of 2005, Ken Livingstone (the then mayor) started to phase out the Routemaster my heart sank. Did this signal the demise of the London icons. Would the Hackney cabs be next? What about the Ravens at the Tower? Or indeed the Beefeaters (Yeoman Warders)? Would it be a last bow for the street performers at Covent Garden? Will Big Ben fall silent…

London Icons - Big Ben & the London Bus

Thankfully the new mayor Boris Johnson pledged that he would introduce a new Routemaster. Northern Ireland firm Wrightbus (perfect name to build the right bus) teamed up with Thomas Heatherwick & Heatherwick Studios to bring this icon back to life.

The Proposed Design by Thomas Heatherwick (Heatherwick Studios)

But this wasn’t about dreamy eyed nostalgia – This had to be a workhorse for the modern city. It wasn’t about making a copy but rather a successor to the crown. I think it is a huge challenge to successfully design something for the modern world that is based around such a beloved London treasure. Yet that is exactly what they have achieved.

The New Routemaster Double Decker Bus (photo by Peter MacDiarmid)

The Old vs The New

I believe that for a design to really work it has to be thought about. How can it best suit its enviroment and the needs of the people who are going to use it. In this case:

  • People are Time Poor – The design has 3 entrances including one with specific access for wheel chairs to increase the speed that people can board and disembark.
  • Form & Function – From the outside two diagonal glass windows curve around joining the two floors and following the course of the two staircases. This visually stunning design idea now allows light to fill the once dark & dingy staircase well(s).
  • Natural Light – The whole bus seems to be flooded with natural light and anyone who has spent time working in London during the winter is sure to appreciate that!
  • Sustainable Solutions – This new bus will features the latest green technology, meaning it will be 15% more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses and 40% more efficient than conventional diesel double deckers.
  • Improve the Layout – There is more room to fit more people – perfect to meet the needs of the growing city.

London Lord Mayor Unveils the New Routemaster Bus (photo by Peter MacDiarmid)

And of course to my personal delight there is the “hop-on hop off” platform. London now has a bus that is more sustainable to run, can carry more people and is a visually stunning. Great design, for me, is about embracing the existing beauty but being open to see what can be modified & improved in terms of  form and function.


Candle Lit Dinner With Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine

It appears that there were several Saint Valentines and like all good martyrs, they found themselves at the pointy end of a sharp object. In one case, the Roman Emperor Claudius II had one Saint Valentine beheaded because he continued to marry young couples even though Emperor forbade it.

It’s a little sketchy on why the Emperor was being such a kill joy but there is a suggestion that these were young soldiers getting married and he felt they were more effective warriors as single men. Given that Rome was taking on the might of the barbarian Goths I can see why he was keen to have an effective fighting force but it hardly promotes the message “love conquers all”. Continue reading

The Hunt to Extinction


This brilliant film was created by Heal the Bay and narrated by actor Jeremy Iron. It is designed to make people aware of California’s plastic bag pollution problem. Continue reading

Thinking outside the packaging box…

I unwrapped another item as we began to dress the client’s house. I looked over at the pile of packaging that was steadily growing. Thankfully a lot of it can be recycled. It is obvious what to do with the cardboard and the biodegradable void fill. There are now solutions with the plastic wrapping that will vary on your location from curb side pick up to drop off points.  

But what about  the polystyrene?

Polystyrene packaging waste outside a shopIn our love of Technology it appears that our gadgets are getting bigger and better. None more so than the TV. As they get bigger so do does the amount of packaging required to keep them safe during transit. The problem is what happens with it after it has been delivered. Tom Ballhatchet has come up with a genius solution. Its simplicity is what makes it so clever – don’t throw them out but rather have them as part of the overall entertainment unit!“Sorry say that again” I hear you yell...TV Packaging turns into TV Stand (Concept by Tom Ballhatchet)

Once they have served their purpose as packaging, the pieces are reassembled to become your new entertainment stand with a built in cable management system. While currently still in a prototype stage it is easy to see how this could revolutionise packaging in the future.

Eco Friendly TV Stand designed by Tom Ballhatchet