One of the strongest trends nowadays, in the world of design, focuses on sustainability. I find it very curious and exciting to see the world more engaged towards environmentally-friendly approaches. The designers’ attempt to establish a proper dialogue between man and the environment is also gratifying. We had a few talks with the British designer, Ben Lord from Pod Space and we asked him a couple of questions about his work and the impact he had on the world of sustainable design. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Ben Lord, he is an award-winning designer (Pod Space was listed at The Northern Design Awards as the ‘Best Eco / Sustainability’ build of 2012). His eco-friendly timber-framed pods are stylish little pre-fabricated offices, that can be easily placed in the intimacy of any garden, providing a flexible lifestyle and a less common working experience.
Each story has a beginning. Ben, we would like to know the beginning of your story as a designer. What made you choose this path and what influenced your style?
I was brought up in Yorkshire and got my BA architecture also in Yorkshire. I love strong, contemporary design but living in the Yorkshire countryside I also want my designs to complement their natural surroundings.
What is the story of … Pod Space?
Pod Space was established in 2008 when the concept of contemporary garden rooms was just taking off. I wanted to design buildings that could be used as a separate extension to the house all year round. At that time there were a growing number of ‘shed’ like buildings but there was a gap for really well designed buildings built to a very high standard. Since then we’ve developed our designs for garden buildings and the majority of our work is now in bespoke designs for our clients and a greater emphasis on public sector and commercial buildings.
Your ‘pods’ integrate seamlessly into green spaces. Is there a lack of connection, nowadays, between man and the environment?
I think that there is a growing appreciation of our natural environment and how precious our natural resources are. There are options when designing and constructing a new building to incorporate features that will integrate the building in to its environment, both with the materials used and the use of the space. I try to include materials that will allow the building to complement the immediate environment and also minimize the wider environmental impact.
The ‘pods’ you create are basically eco-friendly garden studios. Explain in a few words your commitment towards the environment. Why is it so important to you?
Living in the countryside gives me a strong appreciation of the natural environment and our responsibility to protect it. Designing Eco friendly buildings requires a more creative approach and its not always the easiest (or cheapest) option but it is satisfying to know that we can contribute towards protecting our natural resources.
What makes Pod Space both, stylish and functional?
Some of our design features are quite distinctive to Pod Space such as the sliding louvred screen on our Glide Pod. This is a very stylish addition to the Pod but it is also entirely functional, giving the user the opportunity to have the sliding doors open with the screen over for privacy and solar shading. Even the small details in our Pods are specified to the highest standards so that the overall appearance is stunning but practical for day to day use.
One can choose from five standard garden pods, fully customizable. Did you have any weird or fun requests so far?
We’ve had a few more unusual requests for buildings – once for a flying saucer shaped building! Most of what we do currently is bespoke designs but the majority of our clients come to us because they like they style and finish of our existing buildings so usually the request is for something in a similar style. We do love a challenge though!
You are an award winning designer, Ben. What inspires you to create compact and flexible unique spaces that disconnect people from the routine?
Routine is an important part of daily life and most people thrive when they have comfort and familiarity. The entire philosophy of Pod Space is to offer our clients an opportunity to have exactly the building they want within a space where they can be inspired by the natural environment. Having an additional living or working space in your garden does not have to be a compromise between style and function.
We are curious if do you have a Pod Space in your garden. How often do you use it?
I am currently re-designing my garden and there will definitely be a Pod Space in it! Pod Space is very busy so I do often catch up on emails from home and I love the thought of having a warm and bright working space that can be separated from the main home.
Do you have other projects on-going? Are they also related to sustainable design?
We are doing a lot more work on commercial projects and working currently on buildings which require a BREEAM assessment. We have a commitment to searching out new technologies to improve sustainability in the construction industry and are constantly looking at ways to incorporate these in our buildings.
Is there anything you would like to share with our readers, that maybe, could make them take a second look at your wonderful work and (why not) buy a Pod Space?
The best endorsement that we have is our clients feedback. They are consistently delighted with the finished building and we have even had clients returning for a second building when they have moved house. This is enormously satisfying and it’s why we can continue to grow and develop our buildings.