40 Square Feet/Summer

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40 square feet

Issue 01 | Scotland | Summer 2022

Hello! And welcome to the first-ever issue of 40 Square Feet. I’m Melba Beetham, a specialist in the design of hospitality interiors, workplaces, educational spaces etc. - anywhere where people talk to each other! As well as designing interiors, I am also an interior design educator. I continually learn and teach within a vibrant design community at The Glasgow School of Art. I invite you to take a well-deserved coffee break and enjoy this delicious content. Hit the full-screen button bottom right for a sumptuous ‘flicking through magazine’ feel. Don’t miss out on your chance to win one of five £10 vouchers for Loch Lomond Coffee Co. As well as coffee roasted on the banks of Loch Lomond, you can also buy tote bags and exfoliating soap! FOR A CHANCE TO WIN: Email me with a link to your social media share of 40 Square Feet. design@melbabeetham.com Have a wonderful Summer, Melba

melbabeetham.com LinkedIn: melbabeetham 2

Contents pg 4 - 7: Topänga Atelier, Eva Nieto pg 8 - 13: A Unique Guide to Poland’s Design Scene, Joanna Rosado pg 14 - 15: A Chat About Sound Design, Brian D’Souza pg 16 - 17: Photos from Panipat, Somya Singh pg 18 - 21: Where To Begin When Choosing a Colour, Melba Beetham pg 22-23: Material of the Day, Melba Beetham


Born and raised in Spain, Eva Nieto is the Founder and Creative Director of Topänga Atelier. Designer, Architect, Artisan, Traveller, Scuba Dive Instructor... After leaving Spain in 2001 Eva lived, worked and travelled in Holland, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the United Arab Emirates and the Cayman Islands. Eva arrived in Panama in 2019, where she founded Topänga Atelier, with a mission to create accessories inspired by nature, art, the ocean, her travels and the different cultures she has encountered along the way. Eva is committed to craftsmanship and slow fashion, following the path towards a more sustainable future. (MB) What prompted you to begin your atelier business? (EN) I have always loved making things for myself; clothes, bags and accessories for my home, and this has always made me feel good - both the process of creating and the result. Bags are unique because they can bring instant happiness to people. With clothes, it’s not always easy to get them to look and feel quite as you want them to. There can be size issues, whether they suit you, and body image.

There are so many pressures on women to look a certain way, but with bags none of these problems exist. They can bring instant gratification with ease. Lockdown was an opportunity for me to set up the business and take the first collection to market. 4

What are the connections between your architectural practice and atelier? The design process is the same, no matter what you are designing; a bag, a garment, a building, etc. It starts with inspiration and the point where things click. And then the process of giving shape to this idea and driving it toward an endpoint. In architecture, we constantly respond to the limitations of building regulations and work within this. Yet, with bag design, there aren’t the same limitations.

The freedom of this is exhilarating, but it’s also a challenge; without these restrictions on the design, there are infinite decisions to make. Another difference is that with a typical residential architectural project we know the client. They can tell us exactly what they want, and then we can design with them in mind. With bags, the client is imagined during the design process, built from hypothetical personas. In reality, the buyer could be anybody. 5

What kind of occasions are the bags intended for?

The bags have been designed to be versatile. My customers are teaching me every day that the bags are far more versatile than I imagined. For example, I had anticipated that the feathered bags would be more suited to dressy occasions. Still, I see people wearing them with flip flops, relaxing at the beach, and it works well in this context too. Which is the most popular piece? The bucket bag is the most popular and this is a line I intend to focus on in the coming months.


How have your surroundings inspired the designs? I live in the Canal Zone of Panama City; Tropical rain forest surrounds my home and is part of my everyday experience.

For example, I get hummingbirds on my balcony and see sloths on my way to the supermarket. This experience is integral to the bags, but I would go further than describing it as a deliberate source of inspiration. It was more that the habitat found its way into my process. It would have been impossible not to have this influence on the designs I produce for Topänga.

To find out more about Topänga Atelier see details below:

website: en.topanga-atelier.com instagram: topanga_atelier


A Unique Guide to Poland’s Design Scene This guide gives an insider’s insight into emerging & traditional Polish design and has been handpicked by Joanna Rosado, an award winning interior designer and illustrator in Lodz, central Poland. Joanna currently designs for Stravadius, and her illustrations can be found here: Intagram: @gigirosado_illustration

Tartaruga web: tartarugastudio.pl “Tartaruga is a small weaving studio founded in Lodz, Poland in 2017 by Jadzia Lenart and Wiktoria Podolec. As concious designers and craftsmen we’ve decided to stand in opposition to the mass textile industry and all its consequences. That’s why we create handwoven contemporary kilims, rugs and wall hangings. All of our products are handmade with traditional tools and techniques.” 8

RM58 Classic designed in 1958 by Roman Modzelewski web: vzor.com “The RM58 is a modern version of the groundbreaking armchair designed by Roman Modzelewski. Handmade in 1958, it was one of the earliest Polish examples of polyester-glass laminate furniture, but its innovativeness lay not only in the materials used in its production. The fully-closed organic form of the seat had no counterpart in its time, either in Poland or elsewhere. One of the earliest surviving prototypes (in white) was purchased for the permanent design collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The use of new materials and industrial technologies in the production of the RM58 armchair by VZOR made it possible to overcome the constraints of craft manufacturing and to offer a product of consistently high quality which can be produced quickly and relatively cheaply, in large batches. It also allowed for a matte version of the armchair, providing new aesthetic appeal in a variety of new, modern colors specially chosen in consultation with the patent holder, Roman Modzelewski’s widow, Wera Modzelewska”

“The Polish School of Posters

originated at a unique moment in history when posters were the only medium in which artists were allowed relative artistic freedom by the Communist state. The Second World War had just ended and the Polish People’s Republic suffered intense repression under Soviet rule. In most fields related to the arts, artists were forced to conform to a strict Communist art style. The pioneers of the Polish School of Posters, however, struck a deal in which they agreed on the fact that the posters would not have to adhere to the Social Realist style. The artists were instructed to reject Western values in their posters and were to follow rules about appropriate messaging, but other than that, they had complete artistic freedom. This resulted in bold, unique visual impressions which still managed to introduce subversive thinking in subtle ways.” Image right: Roman Cieslewicz, cover of Ty i Ja, 1968 web: magazine.artland.com/ the-polish-school-of-posters 9

Targi Rzeczy Ladnych, Warsaw, is a two-day event celebrating Polish design which run 3 times per year. Image Source: Elle Magazine.

Boleslawiec Pottery is traditional Polish pottery. Each piece is hand painted and signed by its painter.. Image Source: polishpotteryshop.co.uk


Pan Tu Nie Stal is a shop that was first opened in Lodz.

All their products are inspired by the communist era designs and produced locally. The name, “You did not stand here”, is reminiscent of the 1970s and 1980s you had to stand for hours in long queues to buy anything in the shops.

Beza Projekt is a Warsaw-based studio

founded by designers Anna Loskiewicz-Zakrzewska and Zofia Strumillo-Sukiennik. Playfulness, subversion and the unending quest for unexpected solutions lie at the core of the studio’s work. They deal with interior and furniture design.


Label Magazine

Polish design magazine covering design worldwide as well as eastern European. web: label-magazine.com

Folka is a shop run by Karolina Merska . Karolina is an art historian who is interested in traditional folk crafts-

manship of Poland. She visits small villages and searches for people who make decorative objects and cultivate Polish traditions. She sells these objects in her shop and supports the makers. web:folka.com


Lodz Design Festival “This year’s edition of Lódz Design Festival 2022, under the motto RE:GENERATION, is an incentive to look for answers to the challenges we face at the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century. At the festival we will present activities that foster both individual and systemic regeneration. We will look for ways to regenerate not only the natural environment, but also the urban fabric, social institutions, and most importantly – each and everyone of us. The organisers have prepared a varied programme, including the make me! international design competition for young designers and the must have plebiscite for the best Polish products. From May 12th to 22nd, visitors will also be able to see exhibitions in the Art_Incubator space and its accompanying venues, participate in debates and panel discussions, and enjoy activities for the younger audience. The idea behind all the events is to encourage a deeper reflection on the condition of the current world and the challenges it poses to us. The final conclusion is that the title RE:GENERATION must be treated as a permanent process that will stay with us forever.” web:lodzdesign.com


Brian d’Souza, founder & CEO of Open Ear Music & Swell talks to Melba Beetham about sound design. web: openearmusic.com (MB) For venues seeking to develop a sound strategy (and new to this), what would you suggest is a good starting point? (BDS) Firstly, remember that sound is a constant – your customers ears are always open and every single sound they hear whilst in your venue will be received by their ears and processed by their brain either consciously or subconsciously. That gives all businesses a massive opportunity to use sound to communicate the right messages to customers and create sonic environments that make them feel comfortable and at home. The fact that so few businesses really think about this gives the ones that do a huge opportunity to do something special.

The best place to start is think about all the sources of sound in your space – the coffee machine, the kitchen sounds, the acoustics, the types of materials used, the music, the speaker placements, etc. All these contribute to the soundscape of the space and can quickly mount up to an environment that could be too noisy, and detrimental to the venue. So, think about how to best balance all these elements to create an environment that is conducive to whatever your venue does. The next place to go is think about all the other touch points you have with your customers and how sound can be used – on social media, online, via events, etc. A 360º approach is what helps businesses implement a successful sound strategy.


Do you think tangible factors in sound determine a sense of time and seasonality, for example, ‘morning’ or ‘evening’, ‘Summer’ or ‘Winter’? Yes, for sure, and the best example of that for me was at the start of the pandemic – it was spring and the birds were in full voice. They really represented that moment in the year, in the same as that birdsong represents the new day through the warmer months. We are all affected by our acoustic ecology, but interesting to think about how the rising noise levels in our urban environments are having a detrimental effect to our relationship with nature and the seasons. I set up Ambient Flo radio www.ambientflo.com with this in mind – the playlists reflect the time of day and a nature/birdsong stream can be added on top of the music to create a more natural listening soundscape, depending on listener tastes. When curating or creating sounds that enhance wellbeing, do you distinguish between ‘relaxation’ and ‘mindfulness’? That is a good question! I’ve spent a long time getting frustrated at how things are packaged up as pertaining to ‘relaxation’.

Whilst we all want to feel relaxed, the sound is much more powerful than its mere ability to reduce stress, lower cortisol levels and reduce brainwave state. Being active in your listening practise is much more akin to being mindful – you will most likely feel relaxed, but you will also have an opportunity for greater clarity of thought, to explore realms of consciousness and objectively look at a whole variety of aspects in your life, your relationships and your place in the world that would be impossible to achieve in normal waking state. We set up a company called Swell http://swellstudio.io that is dedicated to this: using the power of sound to unlock a variety of states of consciousness to positively affect the listener. And how does this distinction influence the process of curation/creation? It is important to recognise who the listener is and what the intention is. So, if the purpose is for them to feel relaxed than that is how we create or curate the sounds for them. If they happen to get into a mindful, transcendental state, then that is a bonus!


TO&FROM is a London based design studio founded by Somya Singh, an interior designer and Bob de Graaf, a product and exhibition designer. web: toandfrom.co Inspired by a film directed by Meghna Gupta, Somya travelled to Panipat, north India, to find out more about the fabric recycling process that takes place here, turning western cast-offs into yarn and then rugs. Here she shares the photographic journal of this journey, capturing the process of fabric recycling, the creation of rugs and the local people at the heart of this project.


This page bottom left: Bundles of colour-coded denims arrive ready to be recycled This page bottom right: Vibrant blues post carding Opposite page: Shades of yellow cloth fibre being hand inspected post carding



Where to begin when choosing a colour Meba Beetham Colour is always part of interior design - even if one takes the decision to desaturate the interior. Earlier this year, and slightly by accident, I began isolating this and selling a ‘Pick My Paint’ paint colour consultancy service, detaching it from a full design service that I usually offer. It came about when some messages from people seeking colour consultancy online were forwarded my way. Some of the manufacturers that offer this service had paused due to lockdown, and that had prompted customers to look elsewhere. Researching paint and colour for this purpose has opened my eyes to this complex and highly emotive design aspect. In my experience, interior designers tend to think of choosing paint colours as the most straightforward aspect of a project, yet it seems to be where clients feel the most worry. I’ve noticed that wall colours can provoke emotion, overwhelm and ‘getting it wrong’ fears more than any other aspect of interior design. Not to worry, I believe a good decision can be made by following a simple process. When I approach paint colour selection, I never start with a blank canvas; I begin by establishing what’s already there. For example, I would look at the proposed furniture and materials. For instance, if I’m designing a bar, I consider the front and back bar and other bespoke features. The wonderful thing about paint is that there is virtually no delivery lead time; painters can be given specifications and have them on-site the next day. The other great thing is that they are one of the easiest things to sample. Painters are well accustomed to painting large samples before placing a large order. It’s vital to take time to do the sampling properly and paint them as big as the client needs them to get a true sense of the colour in situ. They may also need coaching that the colour will only truly settle in and make sense once the interior is full of furniture and fittings, and the lighting is in place. 19


Designing for domestic interiors becomes a lot more complex and requires a slightly different approach. The reality is that most of us have things in our homes that reflect our taste and also things that have been inherited, gifted or are affordable rather than desirable. This means that scanning a person’s home for colour reference needs a process of inquiry. I did an exercise with a client once that was highly revealing. We took pictures of everything in her home, including fixed elements and loose objects. I then printed the photographs and spread them out on her table. She grouped the photos into things she loved and those she either felt indifferent toward or disliked. “This is strange”, she said, looking at the two piles, “pretty much all the ones I like I bought them myself and the ones I don’t are mostly gifts from previous relationships.” This gave a powerful visual palette to guide her choices on the new things she brought into her home during the refurbishment. Within this was a beautiful narrative and solid, coherent thread. In other words, everything you need to launch a detailed design process. We all have a very unique relationship with colour, having built years of personal and cultural association with particular colours. On top of this, colour trends influence the collective psyche and can further tilt their meaning. We feel differently about colour, and we also see it differently. The experience ranges significantly. Colour blindness affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. Some people experience tetrachromacy as “an enhanced type of colour vision that may allow the individual to see colours that others cannot.” With all this in mind, no wonder it can feel like a minefield. But it’s just paint and all will be fine. Simplify by defining the reference, trust your bodily response to colour, and relax.

Newcastle University: research.ncl.ac.uk/tetrachromacy/ thescience The World According to Color: A Cultural History by James Fox colourblindawareness.org 21

You may have heard the statistic that the construction industry accounts for around 38% of CO2 emissions, and the plan to achieve a zero-carbon built environment by 2045. Reflecting on the materials we use in interiors has never been a hotter topic, so to speak. . And the appetite for innovation in this area is huge right now. Aside from seeking healthier and less harmful materials, the surface textures, colours, patterns, and transparency have always been a mode of expression in interior design. Keeping knowledge of materials fresh is critical for design practices to captivate the imagination of those that inhabit the interiors they design. I post regularly about materials on Linked In. Please drop me a line if you’d like to know more and follow my #materialoftheday LinkedIn: Melba Beetham Images shown top to bottom: Digitally crafted from upcycled marine plastic with 3D printing, by The New Raw. Origami paper patterns by Foldability Flexible wood by Dukta


Thank you to our contributors: Eva Nieto, Joanna Rosado, Brian D’Souza, Somya Singh. If you enjoyed this edition of 40 Square Feet, please make sure you receive the next issue in Winter 2022 by subscribing here: melbabeetham.com/40squarefeet


copyright @ Melba Beetham 21/06/2022 contact design@melbabeetham.com