A look at Kevin's Green Heroes

Each year Kevin McCloud hand picks a selection of the best eco-innovations on the market and showcases them at Grand Designs Live. In its fifth year it provides a platform for un-sung product designers to showcase their innovations and designs to a large audience at the exhibition.

Over the years on Grand Designs he's seen many new buildings which has provided exposure to the latest technologies and new sustainable practices in the construction market which gives him a unique insight into innovative ideas and inventive products.

Grand Designs is one of my most favourite TV programmes ever and I love to see how the builds develop, the innovations they use and of course how they furnish and live in the resulting spaces.

Here's some of the innovations that caught my eye.

Solo from Cycloc

You'll not be surprised to know that this wall mounted bike storage solution caught my eye. Our bikes currently live in our conservatory, and while it's a large conservatory it does mean that along with everything else we've got stored in there, we don't make the most of that space.

The Solo was designed in London's creative East End and is manufactured in the UK. Bikes can be stored vertically or horizontally and it's made from 100% recycled Polypropylene.L

And while I think it's great it isn't for us as we don't have the wall space for it. MOH did tentatively suggest it instead of the picture we opted for, but I think realised his mistake pretty quickly. It would work for his bike (if we had the room) as his bike is light, but I wouldn't fancy lifting my 13kg bike onto it, although it would look pretty on the wall!

Kevin says

"Some people hang guitars on their walls. Others Ducati motorcycles. Now that some pushbikes command equally stratospheric prices you can turn yours into an instant work of art with the Cycloc. And then use it to go to work the very next day. This has to be one of the simplest and most practical ways of dealing with two-wheeled clutter."

Wooden lighting by Tom Raffield

These lights are beautiful and are hand-made using sustainable timber and an eco-friendly steam bending process. They're designed to fit into a space but at the same time stand out as a statement piece in their own right.  Tom gets his inspiration from the beauty of nature and the heritage of Cornwall. I think they're just the sort of lights I could spend ages looking at with my eyes following each of the curves and the shadows they'd give.

Kevin says

"Tom and Danielle Raffield and their team grow, season and craft British native timbers before steam-bending them into mind-bogglingly shaped furniture and lighting. Tom is perhaps the leading exponent of this low-impact process (that should not be confused with laminated plywood) to the extend he and Dani are now building a steam-bent house besides their workshop in Cornwall."

Reclaimed wood flooring

This flooring by the Reclaimed Flooring Company split opinions between MOH and I. I liked the white distressed finish but he thought it looked like it needed a good rub down and a coat of paint and preferred the more usual wooden finish, which I also liked. We both weren't sure about the paint splodged version, so that was something.

The wood is from Panama where exotic, old growth timbers are harvested from forgotten underwater jungles. The company's vision is to become a leading eco friendly and socially aware business and this new line of eco-flooring for developers and architects was due to launch in the UK this year.

Kevin says

"Beautiful, sustainable hardwood is hard to find. Logging it from virgin forest is often criminal and unregulated. So to find timber which has been logged underwater with eco-friendly chainsaws from forests flooded a century ago seems both far-fetched and worthy of a closer look. This is not a renewable resource, but it is, to all intents and purposes, from a junk forest."


Now this was really interesting and we spoke to the designer about this product and it's actually one we'll consider for our conservatory. The problem it addresses is moisture in our living areas, which can create condensation and this can lead to mould and stuffy, unhealthy air.  We spend 90% of our time indoors. 2.6 million homes have problems with condensation and damp houses increase the likelihood of asthma, and already there's 30 million asthmatics in Europe alone.

This product is a bio-based building material that provides a low carbon alternative to plasterboard. And it breathes, and so regulates the moisture levels created by daily activities (such as cooking or showering). It's also totally compostable.  It's used in the same way as plasterboard, but it absorbs excess moisture and reduces the likelihood of condensation. Then when there is less moisture in our rooms it releases the moisture back into the environment.  

Clever hey? And ideal for those rooms which feel damp, hence our conservatory. We'll lose the width of the board in the room, but if it improves the usability of this room (once we've cleared all the junk out) then it'll be worth it.

Kevin says

Actually I'm not sure what Kevin said about this as I was too busy thinking how clever it was after talking to the designer, but I'm pretty sure he thinks it's fab!

Recycled glass tiles

The Natural Tile Company based in Holt, Norfolk (one of my favourite Norfolk towns) aims to bring stunning, innovative and luxurious ceramic, porcelain and glass tiles to the UK market with a bespoke service for every customer. The tiles looked great and would bring a touch of style wherever they're used.

They're manufactured in California and are made from 100% recycled raw waste glass sourced locally. It's crushed, natural pigment added and then fired and transformed into a stunning recycled glass tile.

Kevin says

"Ceramics are normally made from some kind of refined clay heated up until they chemically change and harden. Ceramic glaze is a durable, waterproof applied coating made from glass, also heated in the kiln until it melts. These tiles are in effect 100% glaze because they're 100% recycled glass from lowly old computers. And they are beautiful."

Multi drawer cabinets

These are made by Rupert Blanchard who trawls the streets searching for discarded waste & undervalued materials.  Each piece is unique, made with reclaimed plywood building site hoardings as the main framework, and reclaimed drawers, doors, signs, fixtures and fittings completing the piece.

I'd love something like this in my house - I've no idea where I'd put it, but that's not the point. These were the things that caught my attention and called me over to the display, and once there I was caught up in it all but returned to spend more time with these beautiful pieces of furniture.

Kevin says

"There are people up cycling old furniture, reassembling it, painting it and reinventing it. Rupert however cleverly makes new furniture in steel around unwanted remnants of old junk - it started with a pile of broken furniture from a scout hut. He breathes new life into scrap and in so doing, forges entirely new pieces."


This was another unexpected section of Grand Designs live, but one that provided both inspiration and innovation.

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