Behind the scenes over the past few months, we've been at it again renovating the store. This time it was about completing the missing piece of the puzzle and getting the lower floor of our corner space on St Stephen Place, Edinburgh, ready to welcome you (and more brands!) in soon. Of course we had to welcome back both the local team and sustainable materials we used to create our top floor last Autumn, with special mention to Clayworks whose environmentally conscious plaster made down in Cornwall now covers all walls of our store, top to toe.
We chatted to co-founders Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce to find out more (and check out our renovation process with Clayworks front and centre as you go!).
Let's start with the introductions, can you tell us why you started Clayworks?
Clayworks was born from a love and belief in natural, sustainable building practices. It stemmed, in 2010, from a decade of restoring old buildings, building new ones and travelling the world to learn about the traditions of clay as a building material. The vision behind it and motivation for our research was to explore the use of natural materials in architecture and earth as a medium to foster the balance in a building that is healthy for the environment and the user and beautiful in its design, structure, technique and use of materials.
This journey – under the name Cob in Cornwall - led us to develop a fascination, maybe an obsession, with the beauty, performance and aesthetic qualities of clay as an interior surface finish. Our main lesson was to learn to trust completely in existing, readily available clays and other natural resources and to make more out of them, instead of developing new materials and techniques for construction. While looking for integrity and performance foremost, we could see the beauty and capacity of natural materials to affect the way we experience the spaces we inhabit and to help provide the most intelligent solutions possible in a world facing many problems.
Researching for our books gave us the opportunity to study and learn from master plasterers around the world. Building with Cob was published in 2006 and Clay and Lime Finishes in 2008. Pushing hard at the conventional boundaries of techniques with clay, building on old knowledge in earth architecture, while making use of modern science and testing facilities, our focus became concentrated on creating and delivering natural plasters of the finest quality that speak honestly about the beauty and functionality of raw materials. This culture of learning and experimentation continues after we launched a range of natural clay plasters in 2010 and our vision is to play a significant role in the re-imagination of clay as the interior wall finish.
What is special about the material?
Clayworks Clay Plasters are 100% natural materials and the most sustainable interior wall finish (other than wood). They do not contain polymers, oils or lime. Lime is a material we recommend for exteriors or wet areas, but it has a high carbon footprint and hence our focus on clay as the preferable material where practical.
Can you explain more about the environmentally caring elements of Clayworks?
Our plasters are the only ones in the world to have an environmental product declaration. This global standard of environmental footprint for a material proves that Clayworks are the most sustainable of wall finishes available.
Because Clayworks are 100% natural they contain no VOCs, formaldehydes, chemicals or toxins. They also absorb and de-absorb moisture from the air, a concept known as moisture buffering. This means that they help to maintain indoor air humidity at between 40-60% which is the optimum humidity for preventing virus, bacteria, dust mites, mould, ozone production and other chemical offsets in the air.
How does everything run day to day? Would love to know more about the team behind the brand.
All of the operations of the company take place on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, in rural workshops on National Nature Reserve. Here the team pull together on research, development and production. Most of the team are keen water sports enthusiasts with surfing, sailing and wild swimming the most popular après work activities!
Why you feel that Clayworks is great material for commercial spaces like ours?
Clay is great for commercial spaces not only because it is healthy and sustainable, but because it has beautiful acoustic properties and it also absorbs, rather than reflects glare. Combined with the raw beauty and tactile nature of the material an immense sense of calm is felt by occupants in clay plastered spaces. This contributes to the relaxation of shoppers and studies show it boosts productivity significantly for workers.
How does it feel to be 20 years into your journey as a brand?
When Clayworks started its journey back at the turn of this century, the only feasible way to clay plaster an interior wall was to take to the land with a shovel and a wheelbarrow and cross your fingers that the clay would be of a particular geo-scientific standard so as not to crack. Clayworks has been instrumental in making clay plaster available to everybody, anywhere in the world and in ensuring the plasters are of the highest and most consistent quality. It has always been our mission to make clay plasters a mainstream product for the health of people, buildings and the planet.
We are getting there!
Clayworks also sell directly to customers: please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Local to the store? Join us this Saturday as we reopen our doors to see for yourselves the impact Clayworks has on a space. Come for new fashion, faces and our basement level space on the 1st May, from 10am and open as normal from then on. Don't live near or unable to join us right now? Have a read of our other interviews with our positive impact brands and keep scrolling through new arrivals for the season ahead.