The 104th Ideal Home Show at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London running from March 16th 2012 until April 1st 2012. On the opening day, after a performance by the Grenadier Guards Brass Band, HRH Prince of Wales cut the ribbon to open this year’s show to the public. Celebrities in attendance included Myleene Klass, Suzi Perry, Gregg Wallace and George Clarke.
The show welcomes more than a quarter of a million visitors each year and brings together hundreds of exhibitors from around the world, covering areas such as arts and crafts, home décor, technology, kitchenware cookery and gardening. Highlights included the Prince’s Foundation Craft House, the Santiago Town House and an Ikea sponsored Swedish House. Other attractions included the Home of the Future showing a range of new technology and the How To Theatre with expert workshops and presentations from celebrities such as Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who gave advice on Ideal Interiors. The Prince’s Pavilions showcased quality foods, interiors and the work of arts and crafts exhibitors.
The ‘Arts and Crafts Eco Home’ was designed by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. Prince Charles is a supporter of sustainable design and The Prince’s Foundation has agreed a five year partnership with the Ideal Home Show. The Craft House demonstrates an ecological approach to building and the use of locally sourced natural materials such as lime rendered walls built using clay blocks, timber flooring, roof insulation using wood fibre and sheep’s wool, which help to improve insulation reducing energy bills during the winter months whilst also keeping the house cool during the hotter summer months.
Some of the traditional craft skills used in the house included wrought iron work, stained glass windows, decorative woodwork, handmade tiles, printed wallpaper, stencilling and slate work surfaces from the last quarry in England. Outside and inside the traditional design has been inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and moving from room to room there is a sense of a home which is both spacious and full of character. By blending hand crafted work with recycled and second hand goods, such as curtains made from materials sourced from market stalls, the aim is to provide an affordable and practical solution to sustainable living for individuals and families in communities across the country.
Increasingly housing has been built using synthetic materials, involving mass produced design techniques and provided limited space to its occupants. The Arts and Crafts house was built in response to the challenge to demonstrate that it was possible to build a house which was environmentally friendly, used traditional sustainable British crafts, local materials and was healthy, affordable and a beautiful place to live. The use of materials such as wood and clay rather than plastics, gives an organic feel to the house and having listened to what people want from their homes and communities is sympathetic to their needs. By providing natural ventilation and using appropriate paints, inks and finishes the house is a healthy place for people to live. There is also an environmental cost to the industrially produced building materials commonly used, which is greatly reduced by sustainable building.
It was important that the design could be adapted to the realities of life in the twenty first century. The building design can be used for detached, semi-detached or terraced housing as well as flats. The Prince’s Foundation is working to give people the skills they need to build sustainable communities and the Craft House demonstrates these principles, with some of the work coming from The Prince’s Foundation students and charities such as The Prince’s School For Traditional Arts. The house can be built by local crafts and trades people and the wider use of the design will help to employ people, whilst also keeping traditional crafts alive.
The Prince’s Arts and Crafts House will be moved to the Scottish Ideal Home Show from June 2nd until June 5th and after this will be moved again to become a home for someone to live in. There are plans to begin building a housing development, using the Prince’s House design principles. Giving people the opportunity to live in an Arts and Crafts inspired home will enable them to live in a way which is more natural and ecologically sustainable. If this proves to be a commercial success, it could lead to other such projects and influence the building of homes across the country.
As supporters of British hand made arts and crafts we were looking forward to attending this years Ideal Homes Show and in particular visiting the Prince's Arts and Crafts Eco House. We appreciated Hank Dittmar, Chief Executive of The Prince's Foundation, taking the time to discuss with us the work of the Foundation. It was inspiring to hear about the Foundations work to promote sustainable communities and their craft apprenticeships programme. The range and quality of work on show demonstrates the importance of arts and crafts to British culture and the economy and the opportunities for crafts people to develop a creatively fulfilling and financially rewarding career.