Design and build

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Designed to identify new trends and concepts, it’s not hard to see why an eco-friendly rocking chair that can charge a phone was voted one of the 10 ‘Green Heroes’ at this year’s Grand Designs Live, organised by Media 10. Held at Excel from 4 to 12 May, these ‘hero’ inventions were handpicked by Kevin McCloud, best known as the front man for Channel 4 series Grand Designs. Rocking a pinstripe suit jacket with boots and jeans, the design guru stepped up to the Green Deal debate and told audiences “it’s fundamental to get enthused about having ideas and working together to create a more sustainable future.” Grand Designs invited housing and local government minister Mark Prisk, to the show “because the government needed to hear what the challenges to building or even maintaining sustainability to your home are,” event director Nathan Garnett told EN. “He wanted to hear first hand from our visitors what is stopping them from doing anything. Hopefully that means Grand Designs will be influential in government policy.” The National Self Build Week launched at the show this year, aimed at helping people understand how possible it is to do it yourself. “Probably two years ago we had the initial conversation with the National Association of Self Build (NaSBA) because we have the same ambition to promote and get people to build their own home,” said Garnett. “This is the largest event for the self build market, and it just made sense to base it around the week.” More than 500 exhibitors showcased their products for visitors to build their dream home. Finance and access to buying land were only some of the challenges industry experts were faced with by visitors in the Build Hall. “Ask an Expert has pretty much been with us since the first two or three years, we’re to the point now where we have 30 or so experts per day,” said Garnett. “We’ll always try and get more and more areas covered so that if you’re doing a self-build project, there’s more expertise in there than any other event you could possibly find - it’s all covered,” said Garnett. “That’s probably the key reason why we have won Consumer Event of the Year five times at the Exhibition News Awards. After each show we take everything apart and look at which features we’ll completely refresh or bring new to the table, and which ones we’ll develop rather than scrap.” Garnett told EN it’s all about creating the brand experience of Grand Designs – which would explain the TV show theme tune playing on repeat in the entrance tunnel. “Obviously we have the man himself [Kevin McCloud] and we’ve also got a number of contributors to the TV show, whether it be products, suppliers or architects who will be here, whether they’re in seminars or Ask an Expert.” Also new to the show was the ‘Eco-Tech House’ and the Grand Designs Live Garden Designer of the Year competition. “With the garden shows out there like Chelsea and so on, we could never compete because we’re a nine-day indoor exhibition,” said Garnett. The organisers made the competition more Grand Designs-led focusing on the design and sustainability of the garden. “The spaces are quite small designs so that the majority of the audience here can see how that can translate into a London property.” The Garden Competition will return in the autumn show at The NEC on 4-6 October. “There will be tweaks in the Birmingham show. There are things on the verge of confirming but I won’t say just yet because I don’t want to jinx them,” Garnett teased. This was first published in the June edition of EN. Any comments? Email exhibtionews@mashmedia.net
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