Design Museum

Designs to change the world at the Design Museum

Good design can change the world, in small and really large ways, so I was looking forward to checking out the Beazley Designs of the Year at London’s Design Museum.  Now in their 10th year, it’s a chance to be amazed by the brilliance and ingenuity of designers from around the world

Design Museum

There exhibition space is impressive and takes you through into the different sections as if you are exploring a set of caves, walls covered in sprayed paper pulp.  Sections look at design through headings such as: activists;  brands;  makers; innovators; and builders.

Design Museum

There are so many great designs to delight and intrigue visitors and here are just a few of my favourites.

  1. Coat woven from ocean waste

This up-cycling project in Spain removes waste from the ocean floor and turns this debris into raw premium quality materials ready for fashion companies to make clothes.  There is hope yet for our seas! Design Museum

2.  A wheelchairs that goes up and down stairs

A bit like the Daleks, it’s now possible for wheelchairs to go up and down stairs – a great breakthrough for both but one much more life affirming! Designed in Switzerland, retractable rubber tracks come out of the chair to enable safe climbing and an additional set of wheels give stability.  Students designed this brilliant innovation to give disabled people real independence.

Design Museum

3. A water tower that harvest the sky

An Italian designer worked with a village in Ethiopia to develop a tower that harvests drinkable water from the atmosphere, collecting rain, fog and dew in its 12 meter tall bamboo construction.  With no reliance on electricity but mimicking nature’s water collecting techniques, it delivers safe water which the villagers can collect from the base – safe and easily accessible water. Design Museum


Design Museum

4. A rescue drone for refugee at sea

This drone can travel long distances to track down refugees crossing the seas in dangerous boats.  As well as detecting these boats to alert rescue ships but It can also drop vital equipment such as life jackets, medical supplies and food.   Using a drone for humanitarian aid instead of as a weapon feels like progress.

Design Museum

5. The high performance hijab.

Working with athletes, Nike has developed this lightweight, stretchy garment. It will stay in place and allow movement for Muslim women to practice the sports they love.

Design Museum

6. An end (at last) to fiddling with screws

Ever struggled to put together a piece of Ikea furniture?  If not then I congratulate you but you are in a small minority.  This  new design does away with screws, Allen keys, screwdrivers and nuts – and in my case wobbly tables!  Ikea’s wedge dowel means you simply slot the pieces together and you can take them apart again. It was on the wall so we couldn’t test it but Ikea say they are going to use it for all new pieces so it’ll be coming your way soon.  Small but welcome progress.

Design Museum

7. A flag for the stateless

This flag was designed for Amnesty International by a Syrian artist and refugee who wore these colours on her life jacket.  Settled in Amsterdam she approached to design a flag for the Refugee Olympic Team of athletes entering the Rio Olympics. The flag is a symbol of hope and a new life, marking that their ability to access this wonderful sporting event despite having to leave their home country and lose their official status.

8. A handmade symbol of women’s solidarity

The pink pussyhat is a protest against Donald Trump’s famous grabbing statement. It was launched ahead of the Washington Women’s March in January 2017 and spread around the world and the basic open source knitting pattern was down loaded and copied resulting in seas of pink, visible solidarity against Trump and his like.

Design Museum


9. A graphic depiction of workplace inequality

This simple but powerful piece shows us a busy workplace focusing on a space shuttle.  Designed for UN Women in Egypt it challenges us to find a woman in the picture of male dominated industries of politics, science and technology in a country where women’s representation in the workforce is one of the lowest at 23% .  Needless to say, I couldn’t find her!


There are so many more designs to enjoy. The exhibition is on until 28th January 2018 and the winner will be announced on 25th January.

To find out more about the exhibition, ticket prices and the Design Museum check out their website:

The Design Museum still feels new in its west London home, to read about more about the museum and the 2016 Beazley Designs of the Year click here.

Full disclosure:  as is customary in the travel industry I was invited to preview the exhibition by the Design Museum

Hoppers restaurant

Hoppers second restaurant is a hit!

Getting a table at London’s no reservations restaurants can be a real pain but usually well worth it when it happens.  Check out my review of The Barbary to see one recent success.  Hoppers is another venue I’d been wanting to try out for months but their Frith Street site was always surrounded by crowds of people wondering whether 2 hours was a reasonable time to wait for a table.  I decided not,  went right to the source and visited Sri Lanka instead!  Hoppers there are everywhere, even on the breakfast buffet in our hotel and I found I really like them.

On my return I heard that a new Hoppers was opening on Wigmore Street, so having learned my lesson from the Barbary experience, we got there as they opened for the evening and secured a fine table by the window.  Would it be worth it, my expectations were high.

Located on the corner of Wigmore Street and James Street, just by the popular St Christopher’s Place area, the exterior is as smart as the interior.

Hoppers restaurant

I ordered a glass of Colombo No. 7 Gin, while I worked my way through the extensive menu, a Sri Lankan beverage with a fascinating story and for the curious among you, here’s a link.   

Apart from the hopper itself which was on the ‘must have’ list, we were torn between ordering the whole menu and thinking through how much we could actually eat.  The menu guides you through in sections such as ‘short eats’. ‘hoppers + dosas’, ‘karis’ and ‘kothu’.  Trying to remember my favourite dishes from my visit to Sri Lanka we picked 4 dishes, some I knew and some which were new to me.

Here goes…

Cauliflower kari turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. Kari (or curry) is the staple dish in Sri Lankan and menus will list dishes with curry as the core so you’ll find curry with fish,  curry with chicken or curry with any other option on every menu. This kari was special, the flavours were perfectly blended with a rich texture from coconut and bursts of coriander and the slight crunch of the cauliflower.  It was beautiful to look at as well!

Hoppers restaurant

Lamb kothu roti was a dish familiar to me from Sri Lanka, consisting of shredded roti bread with lamb and vegetables.  It was good but not quite up to the standards of the ones I had eaten over there but perhaps I had been spoilt.

Hoppers restaurant

In contrast the Goat roti was really good.  The goat was perfectly soft and full of flavour, sandwiched in moist roti bread with a rich dip.  It was really satisfying and so tasty I will definitely order this again.

Hoppers restaurant

Last but not least the eponymous hopper and I chose the egg version as it gives the hopper extra body.  A hopper is a wafer thin type of pancake cooked in a small pan called a hopper. The egg is added once the batter has begun to solidify. It is a light dish and mixed in perfectly with the richer dishes we had chosen.

Hoppers restaurant

There was definitely no space for any dessert tho I was tempted by the ‘Love Cake Ice Cream Sandwich’ for its name alone. The one dish I did miss from my Sri Lanka culinary experiences was Lamprais, rice and meats wrapped in a banana leaf, so I’m hoping they will be featuring it in the future.

The bill came to £55.69 including the gin and a glass of wine.  For more information about Hoppers, their restaurant in Soho and this one their website is:

Full disclosure:  I chose to go to this restaurant myself,  we paid for ourselves and I hope to revisit very soon!

The Barbary

Getting a seat at The Barbary at last

I’m not a fan of the no booking  fad that restaurants in London are so keen on.  I’m not a fan of queuing nor of wandering around to find a restaurant that has a table. But The Barbary in Covent Garden has been on my list of ‘must visit’ restaurants for a while now so when I was in the area early one evening for a play at the nearby Donmar Warehouse, I  thought I’d give it a try and hurrah there was space at the bar for 2! Top tip is to arrive at 5.15pm and to do so before Time Out make it their number one restaurant in London as I fear it will be even more busy now!

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Draper's Hall

London’s Hidden Treasures at Open House

Once a year London lets us into its hidden treasures, the many fine buildings which we usually can only see from the outside. Open House weekend is when it happens and it’s one of my favourite times to be exploring London.  Some of the buildings are accessible all year,  some only for an entry fee but during Open House weekend, a huge list of buildings are there for us to enjoy and it’s all free!

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Jazz Cafe

The Jazz Cafe

London has lots of great music venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, 606 Club, Roundhouse and I would happily count the Jazz Cafe among these.  It’s a fun place to see live music and I went there recently to test it out for 2017 and I wanted to tell you how it went.

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Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival 2017

As a lucky resident, I look forward to the Notting Hill Carnival every year and make sure I get out and about and enjoy the world’s second largest street carnival right on my doorstep.  It splits views in the neighbourhood with many residents making sure they are nowhere near and boarding up their houses against the feared hoards, while others, like myself, enjoy the vibe, the music, the food, the costumes and the all round good time. Continue reading