Kevin McCloud's Green Heroes

Kevin McCloud's green heroes

Grand Designs Live 2017 at London's Excel again sees designer and TV presenter Kevin McCloud select innovative products for the home that get a big eco thumbs up from him

Kevin McCloud

Kevin McCloud is the star turn at Grand Designs Live. The 2017 event at Excel in London runs from 29 April - 7 May and bills itself as six shows in one, with some 500 exhibitors. This year's Green Heroes include two UK companies, The Used Kitchen Company and SolidwoolTwo tickets £22 - buy online.

The Government's decision to relax planning rules may be inspiring you to build an extension, put up a home-office pod in your garden, convert your loft or even demolish your house and replace it with a Huf haus... In which case at some point your attention will turn to how to furnish your space. And if you want to do things in the most eco friendly way, well, this is where Kevin's Green Heroes comes in.

The Used Kitchen Company sells used kitchens, saving perfectly good product from going to landfill
Mush-Lume Light is grown from mushroom mycelium. By Danielle Trofe
Solidwool uses British sheep's wool in resin to make a fibreglass-like material for chairs and accessories.
Dear Human uses recycled paper to make 3D products such as paper tiles, lampshades and acoustic tiles. Based in Montreal. dear
Piñatex is an alternative to leather and it's made from the leaves of pineapples. Piñatex maker Ananas Anam is based in south London

McCloud is interested in all things eco and he has selected innovative eco products that have particulary impressed him which you can see at this year's Grand Designs Live at London's Excel. 'From the start I wanted a mix of ideas,' he says about his Green Heroes, 'radical, environmentally-friendly products from large manufacturers that we should be using more; clever, recycled materials; stuff from small makers and craftspeople; low-energy technologies and brilliant cross-fertilized, creative ideas. It’s fantastic to be able to showcase these products to visitors at the show.' 

2017 Green Heroes include the Mush-Lume light by New Yorker Danielle Trofe, a lamp grown from mushroom mycellium. The Mush-Lume lighting collection redefines what interior objects are made from and encourages a departure from conventional materials. By tapping into a unique material science, such as mushroom mycelium, we start to reimagine a more sustainable future.

It's amazing how many people do still throw out a perfectly good kitchen when they move house, feeling they'll be making their mark on the property by installing a new one. And the problem with throwing away a kitchen is, of course, that it goes to landfill where it'll take hundreds of years to decompose. Which is why The Used Kitchen Company was set up - to offer a recycling service for kitchens, both from households and from kitchen showrooms which have to replace display kitchens fairly regularly. If you are in the market for a 'new' kitchen, check out TUKC's great collection of used and ex-display ones and you can often find top brand kitchens on sale at just 30 per cent of the recommended retail price. 

Solidwool was developed by a Devon-based couple and it's a composite material that uses British sheep wool in bio-resin to make a fibreglass-like material that can be used for chairs, countertops, accessories such as knife handles and rims for spectacles and much more in between.  A hard yet warm material was 'invented' as a way of putting waste wool to good use. McCloud says: 'Solidwool has found a way to address multiple problems, while simultaneously creating a high-value product that can serve many purposes'.

London-based Ananas Anam is a company that has developed an alternative to leather, called Piñatex. It's made from pineapple leaves and those leaves are collected during normal harvest periods, so no extra land has to be made available to cultivate more pineapple trees. And the waste from the leaves can be used for biomass.

Don't think recycled paper can only be turned into more flat sheets of paper. Montreal-based creative studio Dear Human has come up with a way to turn recycled paper into stylish functional furniture, lighting and wall tiles. One of their projects is called Wallpapering, and it takes waste paper collected locally and turns it into acoustic tiles that have been tested and shown to perform as well as acoustic foam tiles. The tiles are square or hexagonal and can be configured as required.  

NewspaperWood reverses a traditional production process, not from wood to paper but from newspaper to wood. NewspaperWood BV is dedicated to the production and development of the NewspaperWood material in order to find new intermediate products and innovative applications.


GDL is segmented into zones - such as Gardens
A cardboard clad boat... there's always a lot of inspired innovation at the show

Previous Green Heroes include:

The Raindrop rain barrel by 27-year-old Dutch designer Bas van der Veer, manufactured by Elho. It makes saving water easy by providing a watering can that fills up automatically when it rains. 

The Kirkwood Chair from south London design studio  Hendzel + Hunt, which is made from reclaimed hardwood and Victorian floorboards. The studio specialises in the design and manufacture of bespoke cabinets and furniture using reclaimed materials.

MissPrint wallpapers, which are developed from the Essex studio's hand-drawn illustrations. MissPrint papers are UK-made and the business believes ecological issues are important, so products use paper made from sustainably sourced wood, and organic pigment inks. 

Ecofans® generate their own electricity from the surface of a wood stove and circulate warm air throughout a room, increasing comfort and providing savings of up to 14 per cent on fuel costs. 


GDL at Excel, 27 April to 7 May.