Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Freecycle faux pas

Last week I popped over to see a house being made-over for a tv programme using furniture from freecycle. Co ordinating this transformation is eco-designer Oliver Heath (now stay calm, girls). I was dropping off some bits and bobs that I had sourced for them and was shown round by Oliver himself. And then, well... then I turned into a drivelling idiot.

Why is it that when I'm nervous I find it impossible to stop myself saying the first thing that comes into my head, however ill-considered, inappropriate or just plain rude it is? Is there a little homunculus sitting in my brain who just lets any old rubbish through the quality control department at the first sign of stress? Cast aspersions on your friend's parking skills? Why not? Question the taste of a respected tv-star-interior-designer? Go right ahead, eat your heart out. In fact, why not drive home your point by expressing disbelief at his poor judgement? Oh yes I did.

Heath was particularly pleased with a white leather sofa, which is dangerous territory at the best of times. When it has been, um, 'pre-loved', shall we say, the white leather sofa is the design equivalent of Marmite: you either love it, or, like me, the first thing that comes out of your mouth is, 'It's vile.'


He assured me that it would be cleaned and covered with cushions and yet... I wasn't convinced. Now, what I wanted to convey was an offer to help him find something slightly, well, nicer. What came out was the rather more confrontational: 'Are you happy with this?' And then in response to a surprised nod, 'Really?'

Somebody shoot me. Please.

So, just to show that I know Oliver Heath has impeccable design-sense, really I do, I thought I'd give you a taste of the aesthetic he calls 'urban eco chic', from the book and blog of the same name. It's characterised by the use of natural textures, as seen in this luxurious contemporary bathroom...

...and in the reclaimed wood (something of a signature) used in this bedroom:

Along with the natural, Heath sees the introduction of vintage elements and the use of cleaner technologies as the key elements of this aesthetic. I do admire the way this philosophy strives to make design meaningful though connections with the past and with nature.

See the urban eco chic blog for some great tips and extracts from the book (and for photos of him windsurfing. Yes, you did read that right) and visit Heath's online store, ecocentric, for sustainable homewares, many of which are designed by him.

When I got home, I realised that I'd stepped in one of the many trays of white paint that were lying around the site (in my new boots, dammit). I guess I'm just good at putting my foot in it.

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