Episode 12: Water

It’s not quite been a long hot summer – but Abigail and Rachel have been reflecting on the importance of water. It’s also been a busy month or two… so while this was recorded in June we’re releasing it in July. We’ll be taking the rest of the summer ‘off’ (but do you ever REALLY stop thinking about design???) but hopefully will put up a short special to celebrate our 1 year anniversary of Every Day Design – the Podcast.

This Month I:

Abigail has been ‘turning left’. She went to the silent march which commemorated the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Tragedy. This march happens monthly, but this was a larger community event. Which has led to quite a lot of thoughts on the nature of community, place and a sense of belonging.

12 Grenfell March

Rachel went to Persephone Books on Lamb’s Conduit Street – this amazing bookstore dedicated to republishing mid-20th century women authors. There was a wonderful write up of the bookstore in the New York Times.

On this particular pilgrimage Rachel bought Consider the Years a collection of poetry by Virginia Graham. One poem in particular – The Bridge, St James Park – captured Rachel’s imagination and reminded her of another favourite by Wendell Berry – The Peace of Wild Things.

Good Design / Bad Design

Faux Grass? Love? Hate? While no one can argue the convenience, there is the downside of it getting hot in summer and adding more plastic to the eco system. But what are the other solutions?

12 easigrass

Should we lean into the low growing plants or moss? But is it hardy enough for a dog?

12 low plants

Rachel has reached the limits of her love for Farrow and Ball. Having done an entire podcast on the joys of these particular paints – there is apparently a time and a place for these paints. The key here is that the ‘modern’ emulsion cannot be touched up – because the sheen doesn’t quite match up. While it’s wipeable, it’s not touch-upable. So while it’s great for bathrooms and kitchens, the stairwell has not really held up so well. We reached out to Farrow and Ball and they have sent us this helpful F_B Advice Sheet – but confirmed that the recommended approach is to do a whole new coat rather than ‘touch in’.

Water

What’s the first image that comes to you mind when you think about water in design?

For Rachel, she’s always thinking about how cities were designed around water ways – following the course of rivers. Whereas Abigail is far more into the engineered waterways.

Fountains Fountains Fountains! They have become increasingly popular as public art installations and a great way of animating space and gathering people together in cities. But there’s a huge amount of engineering that sits behind these seemingly simple features.

From the incredible fountain at Witley Court, to the Bellagio, to Granary Square in Kings Cross, London – these are places that can bring you both respite and joy.

London is a city literally built around and over water. Both in terms of the Thames, but also London’s lost rivers – which Rachel’s brilliant friend Tom has written about in his book. But fountains aren’t just for playing in, they are also for drinking from. In fact the whole history of urban planning can (loosely) be tied back to water fountains. We paid a visit to Victoria Tower Gardens and reflected on the history of public water fountains.

 

Victoria Tower Gardens – gave us some pause for thought – the pavillion in the centre is an incredible piece of Victorian public infrastructure with the lions’ head water fountains in the centre. Just across the way you can see another disused water fountain, and the modern equivalent selling bottled water and coffee.

Rachel and Abigail also reflected on their local water sources, the brook of Brook Green and the New River both feats of engineering that you can get to from our homes simply by turning left…

12 new river
Ducks on the New River in Finsbury Park

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