London's cultural offer to the world at risk from development
By Coco Piras

The reason cited by millions of visitors to London as to what brings them to the capital is its culture - theatres and galleries large and small, music venues, clubs, arts communities and studios and let's not forget the graffiti and other street art. 

But as planning permission is granted for ever more large scale development - usually for 'luxury' apartment blocks and offices - so the arts are squeezed because high rents means there's nowhere to relocate to. (Teacup chandelier maker Madeleine Boulesteix is a case in point: the arts venue in south London where she and many other artists had lived and worked for decades was closed and the site sold to a developer. She's now based in Devon.)

So the London Assembly's Regeneration Committee has produced a report highlighting the threat posed to the capital's still vibrant art scene by developers which urges the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to take action now. Recommendations include:

 
·         Developing a bold programme to create and promote sustainable culture in the capital.
 
·         Ensuring that the new London Plan includes an affordable cultural workspace policy that means there's affordable cultural workspace in every large new planning development.
 
·         Carrying out research to better understand ‘affordability’ for the cultural and creative sectors. Better quality data on culture in London is essential.
 
·         Urgently piloting a Creative Enterprise Zone in London, which includes both affordable housing and workspace co-located together.
 
·         Protecting not just the famous iconic venues in London, but also smaller grassroots venues.
 
London is home to a staggering 857 galleries, 215 museums, 320 live music venues and 241 theatres and 80 per cent of visitors to London cite ‘culture and heritage’ as the reason for their visit. And don't forget the creative industries account for one in six jobs in London (16.2 per cent), with almost a third of the UK's creative jobs being based in the capital. 
 
However regeneration programmes, which now cover large areas of London, are putting the capital’s cultural offer at risk. Between 2007 and 2015, the city lost 35 per cent of its grassroots music venues, a decline from 136 venues to just 88. And some 3,500 artists are likely to lose their places of work by 2019.
 
The Mayor of London has made the promotion of London’s as the best city in the world for culture one of his priorities, and the Regeneration Committee says that means taking action to curb rising property prices which are forcing artists out of their areas.
 

 

Tags:
Culture, Development, Environment and ecology, art
Calling all couch potatoes..get a standing desk!
By Hari Alexander
Here's something that should get you up on your pins - Britons will spend more than 18 years of their adult lifetime sitting down. And sitting down all the time is not good for us, as we all know.
 
Despite all the gyms and fitness boot camps and home exercise equipment on sale, most of us continue to lead very sedentary lifestyles – spending 51 hours and 44 minutes seated during a typical week, according to recent research. That amounts to more than seven hours a day in their chairs – 4.5  of those hours being at work. The study also found lots of us spend 13.5 hours a week sitting down watching television.
 
Paul Chamberlain at Solgar UK, which commissioned the research, says inactivity is a real problem with the modern lifestyle: 'Our study of 2000 adults found people exercise only for a fraction of the amount of time they spend sitting down, which can lead to joint and muscle problems. We forget that we weren't built to sit still all the time but designed to move.'
 
Forty-five per cent of those questioned say they have no idea how much exercise they should do each week, and three quarters say their workplace does nothing to encourage more movement. (The World Health Organisation recommends adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 30 minutes on at least five days.) And over half of respondents say they sometimes sit still for so long they get a sore back.
 
Fifty per cent of respondents say they’re glued to their desk chairs because they’re too busy to move, and while one in ten of respondents say they worry that colleagues will think they’re not working hard enough if they take a standing break.
 
So good to hear that more than a quarter of respondents say they would welcome a 'standing desk' and this should act as a spur to companies to invest in these pieces of furniture, while we can also use them at home.
 
Standing desk makers include Ai Box, which offers very inexpensive cardboard standing desks, and Ikea, which has a good range.
Ironically inactivity is one of the major causes of joint pain because sitting for long period places pressure on the spine and joints.
 
For some people years of inactivity can lead to weight gain, which increases stress on the joints, along with increasing inflammation which again can impact on joint health.
 
Tags:
Furniture, Health, Lifestyle, recycling, eco friendly
California: slower shipping speeds help protect the whale
By Bea Grbic
Shipping company Evergreen Line has been recognised for its outstanding work in voluntary environmental and ecological protection.
 
From July to November it took part in a protection programme focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vessels and avoiding whale collisions by encouraging slow sailing speeds in California’s Santa Barbara Channel region.
 
Vessels in the programme were required to reduce speeds to 12 knots or less within 95 nautical miles of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This helps minimize greenhouse gas emissions and so improve air quality in port communities; and during the five-month period the result was a reduction of more than 1,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases and 27 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), the smog-forming air pollutant.
 
The July to November period sees an increase in whale population in the Santa Barbara Channel region - these include blue, humpback and fin whales. With thousands of vessels sailing through the Channel each year, ship strikes are a major threat to the endangered whale population. Slowing ship speeds has been proven to reduce the risk of such fatal strikes.
 
Kristi Birney, marine conservation analyst for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center, says shipping companies need to be aware that speed can result in fatal strikes: 'Slower moving ships down provide whale conservation -  as well as cleaner air for us to breathe here on the shore.'
 
 
Tags:
Environment and ecology, Wildlife protection
Ideas for decorating your Christmas dining table
By Jo Littlefair of interior designers Goddard Littlefair
Jo Littlefair is a leading designer and she shares her ideas for achieving a beautifully dressed Christmas table. 
 
'I love to see the outdoors coming indoors at Christmas, via a beautifully-laid table that really reflects the best the season can bring.
 
'Along with clusters of berries or cones to serve as table decorations, you can find really beautiful seed heads – poppies are particularly good  – which look great arranged over individual linen napkins, loosely tied round with a thick silk ribbon.
 
'I think a really elegant table should avoid reds and greens and employ subtler autumn colours such as plum or burnt orange. The sparing use of gold will always add some requisite seasonal glitz. Gold leaf, which is less expensive than you might imagine, can be broken up and applied with Gilding Size (a special adhesive) to apples or pears to make great-looking table decorations.
 
'Candlelight is a must, and a central display of pillar candles of varying heights can’t be beaten, with grosgrain ribbon wrapped generously around the base and tied into artful knots.
 
'It’s great to make the extra effort too to personalise place settings for your guests, using rubber stamps for each guest’s name or embossed paper to wrap an individual gift. 
 
'To keep the children and young people happy there has to be an element of fun. Strips of plain brown wrapping paper can be laid across the table in each direction to serve as a cheap-as-chips table runner. Between courses guests could be asked to write down the answers to a quiz or to make their own Christmas joke, with a prize for the best. And why not get more artistic guests to draw a winter animal or bird – foxes and robins, reindeer or owls.'
 
The pictures above are of the table Jo dressed for an apartment at Southbank Place, a major new development project on London's South Bank.
Tags:
Christmas, Decoration, upcycling, eco friendly, eco home, art
Easy, natural and eco ways to clean your bathroom
By Coco Piras

Black tea to clean your bathroom mirror? yes indeed. Lemon juice for grubby chrome? yes for sure!

Lots of us are becoming wary of household cleaning products because of the potentially harmful chemicals they may contain, and because we want to limit pollutants flooding down our drains.

If that's you, you'll love this infographic showing how you can having a sparkling bathroom using ingredients from the kitchen. Take a look:

 https://www.soakology.co.uk/how-to-bathroom/10-diy-cleaning-hacks-for-your-bathroom-infographic/

Tags:
eco friendly, eco home
Home and lifestyle tech - what's worked, what's not and what's to come?
By Sophie Barritt

Home assistance provider HomeServe has been looking at home technology and how it's developed from the 1960s  - and how it could be impacting our lives in the coming decades. Food mixers, hand held phones, and microwaves have all lasted, but products that didn't include a device that was supposed to sound like a cat and so frighten off rodents-  and dare we say the teasmade isn't a staple in that many bedrooms these days.

See the hits and the misses in this fun infographic: ketchup.homeserve.com/infographics/smart-technology

And HomeServe did a survey of 2000 UK adults to get their views on future technological wizardry:

63 per cent of those questioned think smart thermostats will soon be the norm in our homes (if you haven't already got one..)

32 per cent of people think robotic cleaners sound useful and believe they'll take over from us when it comes to cleaning the house at the weekend.

And 41 per cent of those questioned say the boiler is the most important device in the home, compared to 35 per cent who prioritised the television over the boiler... maybe they're the hardy types who like cold showers and wearing their coat indoors in winter.. 

 

Tags:
eco friendly, eco home
The 2016 home - according to John Lewis
By Coco Piras

John Lewis  and its sales are a bellweather for the British economy, and what we buy from the department store shows where the Brits are at when it comes to homes and interiors

So its 2016 trend report has some interesting findings - particularly that hummingbirds, flamingos and pineapples have caught our fancy in the year of Brexit....

The trend for all things plain and taupe is clearly in abeyance; no, this year we've wanted clashing patterns, colour and quirkiness in our homes. So John Lewis has crunched the numbers and found that...drum roll... 
 
●     Sales of its multi-coloured hummingbird wallpaper (£25 a roll) went up by 94 per cent, while sales of chinaware with bold patterns were up 52 per cent.
 
●     Eye-catching flamingos emblazoned everything from cups and cushions to wallpaper and fairy lights. Searches for 'flamingo' increased by a staggering 200 per cent on  johnlewis.com,  apparently.
 
●     Gold pineapples made a quirky style statement. The retailer had been selling up to 70 a day of its recyclable aluminium pineapples (£30) ...though things have calmed down a bit.
 
The year of the avocado
 
2016 was also the year of the avocado - though fortunately avocado bathroom suites aren't back in vogue - with searches for avocado-related products 85 per cent higher than last year.
 
Doing our bit to cut plastic waste
 
More of us are heeding the plea that we stop buying water in throw-away plastic bottles as that plastic waste is ruining the oceans. JL says so far this year sales of re-fillable water bottles are up 35 per cent. 
 
Smart home
 
You may be a Luddite and not mind drawing your curtains by hand..but more of us want to press a button for things to get things moving at home and we're embracing that word of the moment - connectivity.
 
●     Searches for smart home products on johnlewis.com were up 670 per cent. Yes, you read it right, 670.
 
●     JL has seen an 81 per cent increase in sales of smart home products
 
 
So what are we leaving behind?
 
Well, women don't want to hear big hats anymore, preferring to have a disc-shaped fascinator perched on the head.
 
Are we getting less group-vain? Well, seemingly because sales of selfie sticks are down, and online searches for them are down by 50 per cent compared to last year.
 
Designers, stop designing CD and DVD storage units because we all have on-demand telly these days. And mobile phones are putting alarm clocks out of business - sales are down nearly 10 per cent.  
Tags:
painting and decorating, eco friendly, eco home
If you're visiting people, here are some house guest faux pas you need to know not to commit
By Hari Alexander

This doesn't relate to things eco, but we were amused by it in the Deco office and have wildly differing views on a few of the faux pas..

Anyway, a flooring company has done a survey of 1009 British adults to find out what they consider the most annoying things house guests do.

Top of the list is using a mobile phone at the dinner table (we're all agreed on that) and apparently 77 per cent of those questioned don't like it when guests ask for the wifi password. Well, it does suggest the guest is anticipating being bored and needing to access YouTube Fifa videos...

Third on the list of top irritants is people wearing shoes indoors..and this is where I profoundly disagree. Indeed when I go to someone's house, particularly in the evening and it's not raining and my shoes aren't covered in mud, and I'm asked to take off my shoes, I feel like turning round and heading for home again. I don't want to have to spend the evening in my socks, I find it disempowering to be shoeless in a social gathering and I think it's rude to ask people to take off their shoes at the door.

I mean, let's imagine a posh party and a woman arrives at her hosts' door wearing beautiful high heels which complement her dress and generally make her look terrific, not to mention taller. To expect her to remove her lovely shoes and ruin the look of her outfit for the non existent possibility of damaging the hosts' carpets is unreasonable. Sure if shoes are filthy, take 'em off. But if you're so precious about your carpets, really, don't ask anyone to come round to your house.

Carrying on, we don't like visitors to look into our bedrooms without permission - we feel it's an invasion of privacy. And we hate people opening our fridges and peering inside. I must say, I'm with the survey on that given that my fridge is always pitifully empty bar that lone rotting courgette on the bottom shelf. 
 
When it comes to home entertaining, nearly a quarter of us say we expect guests not to arrive empty handed - a bottle of wine really is de rigeur, though if people are coming for lunch, we don't feel so strongly about it and only three per cent of those surveyed said they'd expect a guest to arrive with a gift. 
 
Apparently 22 per cent think it's very rude if you're a guest and you turn down food you're offered. And if you're staying with people for a few days, beware helping yourself to food! Eighty eight per cent of people questioned say they'd think it incredibly rude if a guest is helping him or herself to the contents of the biscount tin uninvited. 
 
Those top 10 faux pas in full:
Being on your phone over lunch / dinner
Asking for the Wi-Fi code
Wearing shoes on the carpet
Looking in bedrooms without permission
Looking inside the fridge without asking
Turning up to a dinner party without a gift
Helping yourself to food without asking
Putting your feet on the furniture
Turning down food when asked
Bringing around a pet without asking first
 
What do you think? drop us a line at info@decomag.co.uk
 
Tags:
painting and decorating, flooring
It's the Dulux Colour Of The Year...so does that make you want to repaint your home?
By Noah Dugall

I'm always amused when a paint or a colour forecasting company (yes, they do exist..) does a drumroll and declares this or that colour to be the COLOUR OF THE YEAR.

Ah right, so it's the colour of the year. Gosh, I must repaint my house, yes, I'll get onto it straight away. I mean, I certainly do not want to be the only person in the street whose walls are not in the Colour of the Year.

Mmm, but it would be a help if it could be the Colour of Every Other Year, because I've only just finished painting our flat in last year's (ie this year, 2016's) colour of the year, which was Cherished Gold for Dulux. (And they even had a Face of the colour of the year, which was athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, I suppose for her bronzed complexion). And the year before I had to paint the flat in Dulux's Copper Blush..so you can see my arms are starting to ache.

In case you are a dedicated follower of fashion and don't see a load of old marketing tosh staring you in the face, this week Dulux announced that its Colour of the Year (for 2017 that is) is...wait for it...a hue called Denim Drift (I wonder how many celebs are keen to be the Face of Denim Blue?). Denim..blue, ok get that, and drift..maybe the grey of driftwood. Because Denim Drift is a bluey-grey colour. It looks nice, so if you like blue and blue goes with your things and your walls needs re-decorating, then perhaps its Colour of the Year status will make you want it.

I suppose it's hard for paint companies to get us excited about paint because every possible colour under the sun is already available - have you ever seen a Dulux professional painter's paint fan? I mean it weighs a tonne! So giving us a Colour of the Year could be one way to jolt us indolent consumers with dirty/faded/flaking walls into action.

Except it doesn't. No one repaints in a colour because it's the colour of the year. I will never want gold walls, or copper walls. And blue walls? Nah, I'll stick with the nice pinky grey I mixed up by combining a pink and a grey paint together in a bucket with half a pot of white emulsion. It's my colour of last year, this year and next year and quite probably the year after that. That said should we ever change the colour of our sofa or carpet, then we might have to re-think the colour scheme.

But the bottom line is if blue or green or pink or yellow doesn't go with your stuff, or you just don't like it - I will never ever like mustard or purple - then no matter its Colour of the Year status, it's not going to work.

 

Tags:
painting and decorating, upcycling, eco friendly, eco home
Ikea: Life At Home Report
By Abby Trow

Ikea's brought out its third annual Life at Home report, which the company says focuses on ..you've guessed it.. those elusive little somethings that make a house a home. A bit corny, non?

One thing that struck me immediately..and it's a surprising oversight from a company that does have very strong eco credentials I think... is that the report (read it here) DOES NOT have a section on what we're all doing to be more eco friendly at home...you know, like composting our veg peelings and food waste; turning down the thermostat by a degree and limiting our hot showers to four minutes.

Ikea says it interviewed people in 12 cities inclduing Stockholm, Shanghai, Mumbai, New York and surely it would have been fascinating to look at ways people in different parts of the world are - or aren't - trying to be less wasteful of energy and whether they care about sustainability when it comes to furniture and belongings. i.e have we moved on from the throw-away mentality?

High five for wi-fi

I'm not sure the report offers anything particularly riveting, let alone surprising. Unless you're surprised by the importance of wi-fi to.... well...pretty much everyone.

So, apparently, one in four of us say good wi-fi is more important in a home than having space for socialising.

One in five of us prefer to keep up with friends by 'visiting' them online rather than actually asking them to come to our homes in the flesh.

And (not quite sure how this works...) 16 per cent of millennials (folks born after 1985) admit 'to eating or drinking together through social media than in person'.

What seems very sad - and it's not something Ikea can do much about, alas - is that too many of us are living in overcrowded accommodation and yearn for privacy at home (anecdotes include how people look forward to their morning/evening stint in the bathroom because it's the one place they can be on their own in a property...).

But this report glosses over this burning issue that affects people in so many towns and cities around the world. And it makes you wonder if global businesses involved in furniture, which needs to have a house/flat to go to, couldn't get involved in the affordable housing debate so we aren't all squashed like sardines in our flats. (For example, Ikea might support Userhuus..a Swiss project that's developed super eco modular housing, and put its clout behind a campaign to free up land... See our blog piece on Userhuus.)

Anyway, I'm digressing.. Ikea is happier to tell us that young people like music (didn't we know that?) and they play stuff they like in their bedrooms so things feel more homely.

30 per cent of people questioned associate a certain food with home, and while 63 per cent cook to create the feeling of home (73 per cent in Moscow!)
 
16 per cent of respondents say they would not have any problems throwing away and replacing all the things they have in their home. (Hope they're not looking despairingly at all their Ikea furniture and wondering where the nearest recycling centre is...) 
 
25 per cent of respondents would choose to spend an hour alone if they had one spare during the day, rather than with friends or family.
 
I'm not sure this Life At Home report has anything meaningful to offer other than trifles and observations of the obvious. But read between the lines and you see what we crave is space.
 
Bigger flats and houses, bigger rooms. Is this a problem of over-population or a global economy that has turned living space into one of the most valuable assets on earth, with those lucky enough to own land/property determined to squeeze people who need a roof over their heads until the pips squeak?
 
Ikea's survey was carried out in April and May 2016 in 12 cities: Berlin, London, Madrid, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto and Zurich. It received 12,000 responses.
 
Tags:
eco friendly, eco home

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