Bio Designs and Upcycled Marvels Take Centre Stage at Grand Designs Live

The Green Grads showcase will highlight innovative biodesign projects like living paints, furniture with algae, mycelium building blocks, and products made from waste materials like chopsticks and ceramics. Interactive features include a mending hub for repairing clothes and a solar-powered heating mat designed for refugees.


An enthusiastic cohort of 25 Green Grads will showcase their work with an 18m installation at Grand Designs Live, ExCeL, 4th – 12th May. Founded in 2021 by design editor Barbara Chandler (known for her long-running pages in London’s Evening Standard), Green Grads is a platform for recent graduates of UK Universities whose final projects have in some way addressed one or more of a wide range of eco-issues.

New for 2024 is a trail-blazing installation of groundbreaking biodesign, the new overarching trend. Here designers learn from nature, to work with its living organisms, embrace its systems, and/or to use natural resources. Stars here include: carbon-guzzling algae, featured, for example, in a new paint by Emma Money, who secured a 50K grant for development from the UK government. Then there is algae-filled “living furniture” by Peter Nasielski and a stunning green building façade by Lucia Giron. Mycelium too play their part – grow a house albeit slowly with mycelium building blocks by Dhruv Shah. Biomaterials utilise potato peelings and more, and also featured are age-old resources such a plant dyes by Jessica Kirkpatrick and native timbers by Jacob Marks and Sam McBride. There is even a stool/table “designed by mealworms” by Will Eliot. And “living letters” made by nature-loving Trixi Marx.

Creative use of waste for new materials is another fascinating feature, with a table made of 10,000 discarded chopsticks from Hammersmith Wagamama by Simon Roberts, and new ceramics made of waste materials by Rosy Napper (ReCinder) and Sara Howard (Circular Ceramics). Also on show, a fully-functioning heating mat for refugees, by Sri Hollema which should be shortly available worldwide. Enthusiastically interactive are the girls at The Mending Hub, who will darn, stitch and make throughout the show. Just bring along your torn or holey garments, or remake an item from their stash of old clothes with Lucy Ralph and Jade Durling.

Michael and Barbara comment: “Our vision is to fuel UK environmental action with new talent from UK Universities.” There are now 150 Green Grads listed on their website and they come from a wide range of disciplines, from art to engineering, materials innovation, animation, graphics, ceramics, glass, textiles, fashion, interior design and architecture.

Key highlights at the Green Grads 2024 show at GRAND DESIGNS LIVE are listed below (numbers refer to the detailed biographies which follow):

  • Cyanoskin living paint: Emma Money has received a 50k grant from UK government
  • Algae-filled living furniture makes food and purifies air
  • Stool/table designed by/with mealworms
  • Mycelium building blocks for a DIY house
  • Hidden low-energy system for heating and ventilation
  • Table built from 10,000 chopsticks
  • Ceramic commercial tableware made from industrial waste
  • Exquisite glass chandeliers fashioned from London’s discarded bottles
  • The Mending Hub
  • Solar-powered heating mat for refugees
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