Initial sketch of Cholesbury's eco-build studioHomeAbout usOur studio

Our Eco-Build Studio


1: Making a studio in the same way as our shoes

When we started to plan a studio space in our garden it was natural to use the same thinking we use for our footwear.

So the general approach was an eco-build using simple materials, recycling where possible and getting the right mix of aesthetic and functional form.

That said, we're not sure we started in a standard way. Alexei's wife Sarah found some bi-folding doors on eBay (they were a little bit damaged from an attempted burglary) and we designed the whole studio around a sketch she made of them.



Groundwork taking placeHomeAbout usOur studio

Our Eco-Build Studio


2: Hempcrete and hidden treasure

A friend had just finished a project using hempcrete (a mixture of lime and hemp shiv, the woody parts of the plant). After a cup of tea and chat we made the decision to build a hempcrete studio with a green sedum roof. Warm in winter, cool in summer, a whole host of good eco properties.

Work began by dismantling an old shed (later sold on eBay) and levelling the ground. In the midst of all of this we found our cottage’s old brick cesspit, which must have been filled in many years ago.

Keen to make something of this fine feature – and being gluttons for extra work – we decided to dig it out and retain access to it from the floor of the studio. Maybe one day it will end up being the Cholesburys wine cellar!


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The frame of the studio in the snowHomeAbout usOur studio

Our Eco-Build Studio


3: We’re very materialistic (in a good way!)

As the studio took shape, decisions needed to be made about materials and finishes, and we seemed to spend forever poring over various catalogues and websites.

We feel in love with the idea of a floor made from 1.5 tonnes of recycled glass – but then reasiled that the polishing alone was going to cost the equivalent of a carpet in a boutique hotel. So, for now, a basic floor has been laid and we’re saving our pennies for a glassy day.

The side window was a more instantly gratifying chapter. We made the frame from an old work surface we found in Sarah's father's garage. The triple-glazed unit came from our local glazier, and the beautiful, slightly rounded window reveal (inspired by an episode of Grand Designs) was carefully hand-crafted while plastering.


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Flowers on the living roof of the studioHomeAbout usOur studio

Our Eco-Build Studio


4: The studio – and the roof – comes to life

As we had to keep the height of the studio to a minimum, we opted for what is known as an extensive green roof – flat with just a thin layer of sedum and soil. We used the soil from our old vegetable patch, and recycled the sweepings of hempcrete by mixing them in with it.

After some watering to get the sedum established we found that rocket had self-seeded from our old salad plantings. It seems it thrived on the lime in the hempcrete sweepings, and at the peak of the studio's first summer we must have been picking a kilo of rocket a week!

This year we've had less rocket, but our alpine strawberries have done brilliantly. We had planted them as a treat for the birds, but as the birds have been busy on our raspberries we've ended up eating the strawbs instead!


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The finished eco-studioHomeAbout usOur studio

Our Eco-Build Studio


5: The start of the off-grid eco factory

As with a lot in life you start aiming for A but end up at B. There may always be a better solution, but time and money play their part and shape your thinking. The studio evolved as we built it, and although it's now complete and in use, there are still may things we would like to do.

For instance, we’re working on an idea for a water butt with a little windmill that can pump water on to the roof in dry times in order to give nature a bit of a helping hand (and boost our harvest of salad and summer fruits!).

For now, though, that's the end of the story of our studio – but it's also the first chapter of what we hope will become the tale of our off-grid eco factory. Watch this space!


 

 

Alexei at work in the studio

Feel the love and care in every pair

We like to take time over the details that make a difference – such as shaping the footbed to hug your heelbone, and putting the straps in exactly the right place on each size.

› More about our approach

American Vintage fabric swatch

Vintage fabrics given
a new lease of life

Any shoe has a sole, but not every shoe has a soul. We've given our handmade sandals a distinctive character by hunting out and carefully selecting the pre-loved and vintage fabrics that are at the heart of each pair.

› See all the fabrics we’ve chosen

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