Hi and welcome to the first podcast by "Her Own Space”
You can join us totally for free by going to ww.herownspace.com and accessing and joining our Facebook group there.
My name is Ellora and I am the founder of Her Own Space.
So i have worked as a project manager for far longer than I can remember and i trained as an interior designer and have most recently have run my own practice for the last few years working on residential projects in and around London.
Her Own Space came about because of simply that!! The really apparent need for women to have their own space who were managing their home renovations and the building works and really needed to get much better support and clarity right from the very first planning stages of their project from someone they could really trust. It is for women trying to understand the whole fabric of their home from the foundations and bones of their home right through to the finishes.
I really wanted to make it easier, simpler, quicker and while I set up the free facebook group it really has helped me to see what areas women need help with and how to deliver it in the best way possible for them. I have been working for a while behind the scenes to create a membership that is going to be £8 per monthly only - yes that right £8 give you immediate and full access to all the content you need.
It gives women access to all the right tools and a lot more than blank templates but really clever things that can help them kick of their home renovation with no delay or risk of missing out any crucial steps. There are going to be automated questionnaires that will help write your brief, one page checklists for every kind of project, sustainability guides, glossaries and short video guides so you have a succinct way to grasp information quickly and correctly.
All underpinned by great supplier discounts from only sustainable companies
Simply no one else out there had womens success at the core of their business success. I also have a really passionate view on sustainability in the home renovation market and really look forward to supporting from the bottom up the change we need so women an educate the builders, tradespeople and suppliers out there by simply having that appetite and knowledge for change.
So Iv’e made it my mission to explore whats out there and report to you on this podcast on the innovations, changes happening in the UK and showcase solutions for your home renovation project
So our podcast was about reporting back to you on what sustainable choices existed at the recent Surface Design Show. Held at the Design Business Centre in North London.
I believe it is really important to showcase the companies that are doing things the right way for the right reason, I just think it’s about time that they were the only ones that have the stage.
For me if you are creating or manufacturing products in this era we are in, if you cannot be 100% focused on sustainability and putting that at the core of your business then you don’t deserve a space on that stage anymore. I know its controversial and may seem extreme but and we may have to give time to some of those companies also who are striving to be better but aren’t quite there yet!
There was an array of over 100 suppliers from all over Europe who presented primarily options for interior surfaces that covered retail, office and mainly commercial options but the key suppliers I looked at focused on residential too.
It was a chance to see the choices for residential homeowners at the surface design show and to be honest we have a long way to go in a really short space of time.
I always want to stress that the commercial especially retail sector catered for at the show is by far one of the biggest culprits with panelling and cladding and worktops still primarily made of plastics and plenty of recycled plastics suppliers there. While we have to focus on the reuse of existing plastics on this planet because there is no where for them to go we also have a limit to how much plastics can actually be recycled, it’s misunderstood that’s it’s a infinite amount of times and the recycling process also requires high temperatures and therefore causes CO2 emissions.
This coupled with the short life span of retail spaces anyway due to seasonal trend changes mean we aren’t achieving the ideal standards of sustainability. What we would like to have seen are the plastics which proved exceptionally durable, not being re processed but being used for at least far longer lengths of time.
I also have to mention that when speaking to several recycled plastics suppliers about this, they did note that retail clients are dropping fast and office design is being re-imagined and overtaking this, which has a greater chance of existing longer. So there are a lot of changes happening because retail and the high street is morphing and we are re-defining post pandemic especially how we live and work and shop.
So to give you an overview the products and suppliers for homeowners there were suppliers of cladding, panelling, tiling, plasters, acoustic fabrics, paints, renders, and there was nothing really for exterior it was all for interior use.
So lets get on to the residential products out there for you.
I immediately was drawn to go and visit Organoids an Austrian company that make breathable natural wallpaper type coverings from Alpine hay, and petals that comes from as a bi product from local farmers in Austria. It can adhere to walls and ceilings like a wallpaper paper and what you immediately notice is the smell, they actually have a really strong alpine smell of meadows. It’s a beautiful product to cover a wall with and feels very sustainable but is it. The product comes with a self adhesive backing that is where I couldn’t understand how the product can maintain its breathable properties if an adhesive also exists between wall and product. Despite it is a certified climate-neutral company. They use 100 % green energy from waterpower, drive 100 % electric vehicles and heat their production plant with process heat.
It is really beautiful material that can be bought in rolls and used in all manner of home applications but the self adhesive backing and when I asked about what adhesives would need to be used in the other products, I was informed I would have to do my own research in this area and they weren’t responsible for the adhesive that was used. This was a perfect example of how I feel suppliers need to be as much involved in their products application as well as its design and the use of it to make phone cases with plastic cases wasn’t their best example at the stand of how to use this product either.
I want to look more into Unilin a company that produce an alternative to chipboard made of 100% recovered wood so they said they use the branches all the bits of the tree that usually doesn’t get processed and they also use waste wood from manufacturing. Its a very similar product to Egger, and when I asked they said that was their main competitor and so you can make wardrobes, cupboards, kitchens, worktops and any kind of interior project that you can think of.
However, when I went to their website to try and find out more, there really wasn’t anything under panels that even began to explain their sustainable standards.
The next company which I looked at was by a company called Tomas and Yani an East Sussex based business that used coffee ground waste and mixed with certain metals like copper or bronze a bi product from automotive, music and metalworks industries and even spices to create beautiful plastic free surfaces. When I asked about its suitability as a kitchen worktop they said they had bio resins that could be added if they required more durable protection so had thought about it.
It could be ordered in panels of various sizes and used in all manner of interior projects from built in furniture to worktops, even a kitchen. Due to the processing from waste, it would mean that there would be always variations in the product colour, which was a really nice feature and up close the product looked like coffee and copper and turmeric were mixed through and created a beautiful earthy patina.
The owner was there and clearly very passionate about the product and it drew a huge amount of interest and they even make all kinds of homeware and furniture from this product which you canny online. Do check them out I really see them having a place in our homes in the future and hopefully as with everything the more we purchase for the right suppliers the more affordable these solutions will become.
With the huge amount of coffee waste in the UK Tomas and Yani is a great example of a waste bi-product being turned into something really beautiful with a mention of closed loop responsibility.
Closed loop derives from the circular economy concept where by where’ your product ends and begin is the same point so therefore how it gets reused, re-purposed and every aspect of waste you generate in any manufacturing process is also your responsibility to ensure meets criteria of standards.
Do look up circular economy it was originally championed if possible derived by Ellen McArthur the round the world sailer many years ago and I was fortunate to hear her foundation speak to us many years ago. The story is that when she realised on her sailing boat round the world how much she used as one person and how much waste she created plus being on that boat really made her think about how her boat was our planet. Therefore where does that waste go and its a very important mindset that makes us conscious of where we take things from it source, how we use things and how we throw things away and how to change that. Closed loop is again a phrase that explains this concept and something you may notice more and more now you know what it refers to.
So the other suppliers I looked at next were very much focused on mineral paints and plasters and in the mineral paint area, those that really stood out for me were Graphenstone and I have been talking to Patrick Folkes the last few weeks, its founder on email who have produced a mineral paint that has been chosen by the Eden Project as their paint supplier and is not only breathable, uses zero plastics, but also has added technology from natural graphene that enhances the durability and flexibility of this mineral paint.
It even claims to clean the air removing CO2* and other toxins and is one of the most certified sustainable paints company in the world. The colours are matt - Patrick is very clear that any paint supplier that uses gloss/shiny paints are using plastics.
Their main competitor is Kiem, who had been around for a very long time and all the colours as well use natural pigments and therefore darker colours like dark blue do cost slightly more than the lighter colours.
Both companies I would definitely consider for my next project.
Then finally we come on to plasters and there were several lime plaster companies there like Armour coat, who launched their new lime plaster called Clime which in addition to clay and lime uses recycle crushed marble and can create stencilled walls,.
They suppliers confirmed there has been a surge in people up skilling in the application of lime plasters with the ability to create stencils and patterns on the walls using various techniques
One company that stood out were Clay Works. who produce beautiful breathable natural clay plasters that could be applied in any residential projects with a variety of textures and finishes including hay and pre-pigmented and needed no treatment after in a variety of earthy shades. So for those who just love a natural untreated wall this company really satisfied. They have a great example of so many residential projects on their website and also they have around 90 tradespeople across the uk who could apply their product and they can provide great training to anyone who wishes to add this to the belt of skills.
It is a business owned by a husband and wife team Adam and Katy Weismann who first wrote “Building with Cob” a book published in 2006 a step y step guide to building sustainable homes with lime finishes, clay plasters, renders and paints that is still such a brilliant book definitely worth reading.
They really stood out for me at the show and unlike everyones show stand theirs was a linen and wood yurt with zero plastic used with simple plastered wooden display clay boards and when you entered their yurt the smell of the clay was really poignant. They had no business cards and they really showed how to live your business right through to their customer touchpoint and they really deserved that special mention, so do look them up, read their book, absorb their beautiful approach to residential projects and I think you can get some great inspiration from them on their website www.clay-works.com
It only feels right to end with a special mention to the students showcasing their work. What was great to see was how every single one of the students, there were between 20-30 showcasing their products, had really put sustainability at their core, waste bi-products ranged from CD’s, wool, vegetable plastics, seaweed, coffee, mycelium to even COVID tests and it cannot come sooner for them to take the stand with their own stands at the show next time!
Thanks and I hope you enjoyed this podcast by Ellora at Her Own Space.