RSS Feed

  1. 5 takeaways from Footprint+


    What an enlightening time at FOOTPRINT+ the inaurgural Built Environment event held in Brighton, UK.

    Here's my FIVE TAKEAWAYS:

    1.  Take a look at what's happening in Leeds During the Lockdowns the city council collaborated with business and existing planning applications to 'green up' the city and make it a pleasant place to visit, work and live with less emphasis on car use. It's proved to be very successful and will provide template for other cities, towns, communities and neighbourhoods to follow. It was brilliant to witness this knowledge sharing in progress... with so much care and passion for better by all involved outside and inside the council! Thank you for coming to Brighton to tell us about it.

    2.  MMC = Modern Methods of Construction Off site pre-fabricated modular systems are reported to emit 45% less carbon. In different talks at the event we were shown a number of successful schemes. Timber is very much the solution to the efficient production of Passivhaus standard MMC homes; with the addition of triple glazed windows, air source heat exchangers, ventilation louvres and PVs (photovoltaics).

    3.  VAT continues to be applied to refit, yet new build is VAT exempt. I listened to Lord Callanan's speech on the Government's plans to achieve Zero Carbon. I have to say the huge concern of many in the zero carbon/circular economy community is the positioning of VAT exemption. It rewards demolition to build new (0% VAT) - but doesn't reward REUSE and the circular economy where construction reuses existing buildings. I had the opportunity to ask what the progress on this was and was not given a clear answer.

    4.  Hydrogen Something I knew little about - so I wanted to listen to this talk. Used more and more for buses - which is working well. There was great enthusiasm for its future uses for homes, communities and even rail transport - but it's going to be some time before we see it more widely used.

    5.  Where to start working with better materials? Use databases that already collated to help us. The Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design has this one low embodied carbon materials - both for building + fit-out.

    The next Footprint+ event will be held 6-8 June ‘23.

  2. It's been VEGANUARY  Have you given it a try? 

    It's what finally nudged me to be fully vegan 4 years ago - but it's not an 'all or nothing' thing!   Maybe it's encouraged you to swap out the occasional meal or ingredient for a vegan alternative?  My tip:  One Meal A Day is great inspiration for making those swaps. 

    There is so much on offer to help in terms of Facebook group support and the range of options when shopping.   It's a great opportunity to try out some different food - or even ones without animal content that taste just the same!  We don't have to always do things the same way - and all the time, the food on offer is changing and evolving and becoming more easily available.  

    So.... what has this got to do with interior design?! 

    How about making some swaps in the specifications you use in your interiors in the same way?  It's not only vegans who want to have less impact on the planet.   We are more aware of the impact we are having and know there are better choices to make .....and ....OH and BONUS!....many of the swaps come with a health benefit for the users of the spaces too.   Products are evolving all the time.  There's directories like Cradle to Cradle to help you.  Follow me on Instagram for more tips over the coming months.

    Many of my clients are looking inwards at their buying habits and in doing this, they have lots of talking points about those swaps too - which some use in their own marketing when it's a business interior!   Doing things in a new ways creates lots of stories to tell.

    Would you like some help?

  3. Giving back 1 


    It’s my company's birthday.  My little business is 16!   The perfect time to have a fresh look at my company giving and I’ve decided to make some changes and it's also a time to reflect and show gratitude.

    My job at The Body Shop HQ had come to an amicable end and thanks to Anita’s influence - we were made to feel empowered and encouraged to pursue our own business ideas.

    When I left The Body Shop HQ 16 years ago, I really didn’t have a clear plan at all for Materialise Interiors - just that the name was based on my keen interest in materials - and my love for designing spaces that were beautiful and long lasting.  Sustainable design and ethical business were just so obvious to me that I didn’t think to shout about or promote them.  They were just normal to me.


    I knew I loved using design to problem solve.

    I knew I wanted to work more in my hometown of Brighton which I’d been busy commuting away from to London each day - and flying away from to our trial projects and shopfit factories globally. 


    What I didn’t know was just how much influence the company had had on how I work - how different that was to life outside - and how I’d would go on to desperately want to have an influence on my industry to do better in line with what I'd learnt at The Body Shop.

    So it’s my company birthday.  I’m loving helping my clients achieve lower impact but still beautiful projects and I’m loving being an ethical business on a micro scale.  It feels more than just work.  I really enjoy helping my clients - many of you will be reading this!  Thank you for using my services and for supporting a small business.  

    I wanted to make some changes. I don’t just want to be another business saying broadly “I give away a portion of my profit to charities.”  I might not be large enough to be a B Corp but I still want to give back and be accountable.  I was previously donating 5% of profit a year - and at the beginning of this financial year in April I decided to increase donations to 5% of gross sales (turnover) a year.  I review my giving each year on my company birthday and at the financial year end.   You can read more about who I support on my Ethics Statement


    MICRO-FINANCE LENDING   For many years I’ve enjoyed helping micro-finance loans to small businesses in developing countries via Lend With Care and am now up to 37 loans.


    COOKSTOVES  Offsetting carbon emissions is important, but addressing reduction of them is vital. I love planting trees but have learnt there’s other excellent ways to offset carbon - including providing cookstoves to developing countries.  Cookstoves are more efficient and safer to use than burning wood.  They decrease the use of wood by around 70%.  This reduces carbon emissions by around 2 tonnes per family per year and also leads to reduced smoke & an improved living environment.  In this way, forest areas are protected and women spend less time & energy collecting wood.  I'm glad to report so far this financial tear my donations this year so far have offset 7 tonnes of Co2.

    TREES    I’ve still planted more trees as well.... taking my total to 1,992 trees .  My favourite planting project is that of Jane Goodall Institute and One Tree Planted - working to help the habitat of chimpanzees in the Albertine Rift forests in Uganda. 


    The extra tree news is - I’ve joined the MILLION TREE PLEDGE.  My tree total has been added to the Million Tree Pledge total. This pledge is proof that micro companies like mine can make a difference.  The small action of joining together has a significant group impact.  I’m in great company  too- here’s the other Pledgers.  Let me know if you want to join up too!


    My ongoing tree donation commitment… 

    -  At least 25 trees are planted for each new full project - and 25 more upon completion 

    -  25 trees are planted for every successful client referral 

    -   10 trees are planted each consultation.


    The last bit of birthday news is I’ve joined BUSINESS DECLARES

    Joining up with other businesses who are trying to do business ethically and consciously is really important and we can collaborate, support each other and learn together.  I’ve loved helping to set up Interior Design Declares this year.  We have over 100 signatories and even Finland interior designers have joined us with their own Declaration.  Joining Business Declares this month means more support is there for me to work to Net Zero by 2030- and there will be ripples that spread to my connections in my industry - so it can only be a good thing! 

    Read the Declaration and Action Plan  here.  


    None of this would happen if I didn’t have clients or ethical business heroes to influence me!  Thank you again to my brilliant clients for supporting my little business over all these years and enabling me to do some giving back on a tiny scale - as taught to me by Anita Roddick and The Body Shop HQ.  Thanks too to my network of likeminded businesses,  groups like Circular Brighton & Hove, Clean Growth Platform and the Sustainable Business Partnership ....and also my former colleagues who have been really encouraging and supportive.