100% Design Show at London Design Week

This weekend we braved another Earls Court event with our 3 girls, all in the name of research. We decided to be totally prepared this time - 16 ham submarine rolls were made before 8am by Jasmine (with a little help from Daddy), I had a bag full of bribes (sorry I meant dried fruit treats, breadsticks & fondant fancies).

After a good porridge breakfast we set off for Earls Court. On arrival we were asked to check in the kids (free thankfully) and entered the wonderful 45m-long LED ‘light-tunnel’ approach to the exhibition leading to a central bar & welcome area. This has taken on the same layout as Grand Designs show having been bought out by Media 10 earlier this year. A winning formula as it made the show very easy to navigate.

The area we were most interested in was Eco Design & Build, though as with all these events we wandered around everywhere just in case something amazing jumps out at you.

So just as we were set to enter the world of windows and electrical wizardry our kids shouting Stop! We're hungry. Didn't even make it past the DJ.

At this point I realised I’d left the submarines in the fridge! Doh! So we had to buy some extortionately priced wraps which of course the kids picked all the contents out of and discarded the rest. Refreshed we were about to set off again (having been here almost an hour already) then came the cry of ‘I need a pee pee’ ok so we take Jasmine in the big girls facilities then & I look for the baby change which of course is all the way on the other side of Earls Court. So almost 1 and a half hours after landing - we finally check out the Eco Build & Design Section.

Initially we were wowed by these Panoramah sliding windows:

This high technology system, explores glass self-supporting characteristics, allowing a large glass area and the use of aluminium vertical profiles with minimal scale and concept which according to the blerb offers a unique approach to nature, stimulates one continuous and close relationship between interior and exterior without any visual disruption. Whatever but they are stunning and probably way too expensive for us! One can dream.

Shortly after I took my head out of the enormous panoramah windows, I realised I'd lost my husband...to the Gira stand. Oh and the kids were entertained by the entrance video monitoring system which were showing Daddy on an IPAD. The Gira switching kit is run on the standard KNX protocol & offers home solutions. Devices communicate with each other and exchange information within the system. For this an KNX/EIB control line is installed parallel to the power line. A whole range of posibilities from control of lighting and heating, central control of light, blinds, ventilation and household devices, programming of specific lighting scenes, multimedia or music entertainment in all rooms, automatic watering of the garden, presence simulations and more. All very flexible, plug & play of other brand KNX solutions and can be built on/added to in the future so we could do the minimum up front & then add to it later when funds permit.

Besides sounding like a futuristic electronic, gadgety home, the main purpose of the intelligent building solution for us would be to control the heating, lighting & airflow into the house. I did like the gadget which allows you to see who is at your door even when you're not home (via skype) though.

There are a lot of companies out there offering KNX installations but GIRA certainly grabbed Mr Fitz’s attention so much so that he suggested taking the installation training course & maybe doing it himself!

On a smaller scale another gadget we thought useful was the Pluto indesk power socket:

These came in a whole range of different colours and with European sockets too. Not only does the Pluto provide power supply in informal areas (e.g. coffee tables) it also gives charging points and data connectivity points. We thought this would be a great idea for a kitchen island where power sockets are often too scarce. You could pop this under the island and then pop it on top when you want to use it. Mixer, laptop, IPAD, phone charging…whatever this looks like a useful device.

The overall feel of the show this year was that of sustainability - lots of natural materials, furniture & lighting designs made from wood, cork, leather, metal & glass. I was pleased to see a focus on craftsmanship & quality rather than plastics. The colour schemes were quite subdued with designers taking a natural & clean look appealing to the wider mass market.

Clearly the main attraction for most visitors was Simon Woodroffe's Yo Home where your living space is hidden under your bed & a guest bed pops out of your office desk.

A good solution if you are strapped for space OR brainwave - we could reverse it put the kids under the living room and that way there would be no doors so they couldn’t let themselves out. Oooh sounds a bit like a dungeon though…maybe not.