29 December 2009

Make your own Green Wall

Ever since I saw a show Botanist, artist and creator of the Vertical Garden, Patrick Blanc on TV I have been fascinated by green walls, vertical gardens, green roofs, living walls – whatever you like to call them. Patrick Blanc the original inventor of the vertical garden was here in Sydney this month launching his new and tallest project Treo on a residential building in preparation for his other more ambitious green wall project in Australia.

Generally, I struggle to keep anything alive myself (no natural green thumb), but the thought of being able to grow your herbs on the kitchen wall, create a green space in a store or hotel or commercial property, adds a really earthy mood to an otherwise sterile or blank surface and can apparently boost productivity by 12%! My Cloudland post urged me to further investigate green walls and write a post on the topic:

General Pants - Melbourne


Accenture – Pyrmont by the Greenwall Company


Gazebo Wine Bar – the first green wall built in Australia by Ed Wharburton from Greenwall Australia.


Apparently they cost between $900 - $1800 per metre to have them custom made which sounds a little on the high end – I read somwehere the Gazebo Greenwall estimated to have cost around $23,000 – probably not everyone’s budget. 3-4 story high walls could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

OK – lets start small, ELT, a US based sustainable garden company has DIY kits for as low as US$395. The ones I like best are from gro-wall and they are sold by Lushe for around $250 per kit. These look simplest to me.


Watch this video of a guy from NY building his own:

Just to make it clear, I am NO gardening expert and have never done this before. I spoke to my mate Damon who is a commercial landscaper for Coordinated Landscapes and he reckons as long you you find a DIY type product it is doable. They use a company called Elmich but he thinks they might be a little expensive  but check out this video, makes it sound like quite a DIY system. The main thing he says is to get the irrigation right – especially if it is a north facing garden because there is not a lot of soil in a green wall and it doesn’t stay as moist as the garden. He reckons you can get cheap irrigation products from Bunnings and set that bit up quite easily perhaps with a tray at the bottom to collect the water and a small pump to move the water up. Also, food and plants can be mixed together eg. strawberries, herbs, tomatoes etc.


Here is some great information to help you create your own if you are brave enough to give it a whirl!

Check out this video.

Read a lot of information on the topic eg. Lushe Urban Gardening has some good DIY info and ideas for green walls, Gardening Tips tries to improvise, check out how Nick in NY made one on his apartment wall and other posts.

Other interesting posts: Inhabitat Green Roofs,  Read this SMH article, Green Roofs Australia, ELT.

I would love to create my own but will need some help (hopefully Damon will give me a hand) and if we go down this path I’ll be sure to blog my progress. In the meantime, if you want a quick and easy version, why not this crazy idea?


If anyone has created their own green wall I would love to hear about how easy/hard it was and how you went about it.

21 December 2009

IKEA for Christmas – fa la la la!!

Not sure where my brilliant idea of driving all the way to IKEA in Homebush just before Xmas came from, add one hangover and salt it with a torrential downpour and a smothering of mad Xmas!

After 5 hours (still not sure how that happened - wandering around and checking all the new items) and ended up with 3 trolleys worth of stuff I am not 100% sure I need plus some very cute Xmas pressies for kids (their kids section was brilliant) and generally a whole lot of funky homewares and home furnishings that I simply must have to have! But what really excited me was the Ikea Textiles section!
I don’t remember there being so much of it and for prices as low as $9.99 a metre (actually as low as $3.49) you can’t really beat that. Lots of bold designs, made from 100% cotton, Scandinavian designers many of them I have never heard of – very marimekko, bold colours, simplified motifs, animals, trees and nature prints, with a retro feel to them … Having my camera handy I whipped out a few pics:
ikea3 ikea6
I love them. I can see lots of inspirational home decorating with these fabrics. They even had a cutting station and lots of people around to help you. A huge range too. Check out the ikeafans website with lots of great ideas of things to make with Ikea fabric.
Will need to have a better look, but after the silly season once I have recovered from the last experience!!

15 December 2009

Ice Bear Melting away in Copenhagen Square

What an impactful statement, having a life size Ice Sculpture of a polar bear melting in Copenhagen during the Unit Nations Climate Change Conference to showcase the melting of the polar ice caps.
Created by sculptor Mark Coreth for the Ice Bear Project, the scultpure will be located in Copenhagen’s Nytorv square on 5th December. Over 10 days it will melt away leaving behind a bronze polar bear skeleton held within the ice, a pool of water and a powerful message about the environment. Watch videos of Mark at work on the sculpture.
At 1.8 metres high the ice bear is exactly the same in height as the average thickness of the floating sea ice in the Arctic Ocean measured during the Catlin Arctic Survey earlier this year. Scientists have observed that ice under 2 metres thick is almost certainly too thin to survive the summer melting season.
The Ice Bears will hopefully go on tour to other cities including Bears in Squares for the centres of Copenhagen, Oslo, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, New York, Toronto, Tokyo, Beijing and Sydney!!! Please, Please, Please come!!!!!!!

13 December 2009

Too Cute Cloud Umbrella

I need me one of these little Cloud Umbrellas from Joonsoo Kim! With a little more investigation I discovered the duo Korean design team who studies in the Netherlands Joon & Jung. You carry it around in a little stick which also acts as a pump and then inflate into mini-cumulus clouds of protection when the rain starts to pour!

Cloud Umbrella


I’m not 100% sure how protective it would be, no word on price or even if they are manufactured yet and reading a few blogs they drip a little, but hey – they are still tres cute.

In addition to the crazy little inflatable cloud umbrella, Joon & Jung have also made a range of other very sweet designs like the Pillow Blanket, a snug, cloudy blanket made of pillows you can lie on or throw around you. Or the Cloudmon toy/sculpture, again influences by clouds and rain (I don’t know if you have tried to make polyhedra before, but they are damn hard) and try the melting cup.

image image


On the topic of umbrellas though, there are some xrazy ideas out there – that I just had to throw these ones in for good measure from The Coolist – and my personal favourites are:

The Multi-Unit Superbrella


The home made electric umbrella


The Contracting Polite Umbrella


The Eco Brolly


The Tandem


The Handsfree Numbrella


Crazy little designer people are so funny!!!  Which is your favourite? Mine is still the cloud umbrella.

10 December 2009

@Cloudland Brisbane – I wanna go!

I whinge about getting older, but I wanna go to Cloudland! I’m in Brisbane for work, driving through ‘The Valley’ which is totally gentrified these days, and I spy a very impressive facade of concrete, steel and glass on Ann street.

There are crazy little round planter boxes reminiscent of a science fiction time machine film turning the exterior into a lush vertical garden.

As it says on their website, “if cloudland was to be given a tag “mad maximillion meets neo-decor’ – I’m not 100% sure I know what that means, but time machine springs to mind.
Created for the Katarzyna Group by Melbourne architect Nic Brunner, this three level, 1500-capacity venue boasts a fully retractable roof, an "organic" interior - including a central water feature and vertical "garden" wall - relaxed lounge areas, private function spaces, secluded basement and rooftop bar.

If that’s not enough, check out these photos:
image image
Dazzle me with the amazing outdoor laser lights – with its rings that spin and 4900 lighting channels that create a show, I am impressed!!
I’m sorry, but this place is something you would find in Europe, not Brisbane – it ticks all my boxes, oozing art nouveau meets Antonio Gaudi, meets blade runner - this place looks unreal! Custom furniture, bespoke light fittings, ornate balustrades, hanging wall gardens (yum):

Did I say this already – I wanna go? Hey Brisbanites – is it worth me putting on my frock and stilettos, not to mention the war paint?

Check out this post at Lushe on Cloudland vertical gardens.

06 December 2009

Ode to Irresistible Fabrics

Don’t you just love textiles? Browsing in stores picking up odds and ends of pieces of hand printed fabric, a bolt here a scrap there. I love to touch them, look at them, stack them. Well, thanks to the internet and my visit to Life in Style, I have discovered so many talented designers making wonderful fabrics, so this post is dedicated to them.
Bird Textiles – thinks about the environment from her Byron Bay studio and creates stylish fabrics, homewares, stationery, umbrellas and more. Shibori in Chippendale – creates a range of handmade, Japanese inspired silk fabrics as well as screen printed and digitally created fabrics and homewares.
image image
Stylish fabrics from Surface Art – produced into garments and homewares and all Australian made and printed. They sell fabric by the metre for up to $88 and even little packs of offcuts. What home is complete without some Scandinavian retro print from my Bondi neighbour Funkis. Their fabrics are quite expensive, anything from $90 - $250 per metre, but they are quite sturdy so can be used for many decorating purposes.
Of course my favourite most inspirational read ever was the story of Bholu designer Jodie Freid who not only designed her own fabrics and homewares which are hand emboidered by women in India, but she has also set up her own not for profit building pre-schools for disadvantaged children in India, called the Anganwadi Project. Read this article on Dynamic Business to see what a great entrepreneur she is and to be inspired.
A feature of fabric would be incomplete without a reference to Marimekko from Finland. I do love those northern Europeans, with their clean, crisp distinctive style that is both modern and retro at the same time.
imageI’ve found it hard to find their fabrics in Australia. If you are lucky enough to be in Finland, Sweden, Germany or the UK, you can visit a Marimekko shop. There are a whole bunch of suppliers of the products in Australia but I have not personally stumbled across a place to buy fabric by the metre. If you know where to buy fabrics in Australia, let me know. But check out their cool 2009 Christmas catalogue.
I could prattle on forever, but if you want to see a whole bunch of great fabrics in one place, checkout Funky Fabrix. They have a whole bunch of fabrics from designers all over. Check out some of my faves: Monaluna, Joel Dewberry, Saffron Craig, Michael Miller
imageAnd they have a 10% discount right now on all orders over $100.
I could go on… but I will save it for some other time.
Drop me a note about your favourite textiles designer or fabric haunt.

02 December 2009

Rajasthani Style – Mandawa Havelli

We recently returned from a trip to Rajasthan – an amazing place to go if you want an injection of creative inspiration. We had the good fortune of staying in some wonderful ‘boutique hotels’ called Havelis. These buildings are usually family homes which have been handed down through generations. They are often still family managed which makes them very homely and comfortable. Very few Indians can afford to renovate or convert them and they just disintegrate with time into the dust. 

mandawahotel1 mandawahotel3

We stayed in Mandawa Haveli in the heart of Shekawati, a small region north of Jaipur full of artisans and small villages full of crumbling havelis over 200 years old.


For budding architects out there who would like a challenging renovation project, head to Shekawati. This region has loads of towns with deteriorating havelis out in the desert – a really magical place, worthy of a visit.

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