Grand Designs Live: Garden Gadgets

Gardening may be about getting back to basics, back to nature and being at one with the earth – but the good news for all you gadget lovers is that you can still enjoy a technological treat even if you’re out in the great outdoors. This week’s Grand Designs Live show features a number of products designed to make gardening easier.


For anyone who enjoys plants, but can’t cope with the whole business of looking after them, the answer comes in the shape of the Click & Grow. This flowerpot takes care of the whole plant growing process – if a plant is growing in the Click & Grow, it won’t need watering or fertilising (great if you go away a lot). The flowerpot features sensors, a microprocessor and special software, which take care of all the plant’s needs.

Inside each Click 7 Grow flowerpot sits a plant cartridge, which has everything you need – including seeds, nutrients and software. Rather like a printer cartridge, you slot it into the flowerpot and it takes care of everything you need to grow a plant.

If you want to be a bit more involved, but don’t know whether you’re over- or under-watering or have put your plants in the right place, you need the EasyBloom Plant Sensor. The sensor can tell you if the plant needs more or less water, or whether it needs to be moved to a different area with alternative light conditions, or different soil conditions.


If mowing the lawn is one job you hate, you can get an automated mower to do it for you. The Solar Hybrid Automower from Husqvarna uses both solar and battery power. This robotic mower does the job for you – once you have set up the guide wires – so you can get on with something more enjoyable, like sitting on the patio with a long cool drink. It can even send you a text message if its operation gets interrupted for some reason. And it’s so clever that it will even find its own way back to a charging station when it gets low on juice. It’s also a greener option than a petrol mower as it is emission-free. Mind you, you’ll really have to hate mowing lawns to splash out more than two grand on this gadget.

And to keep your drinks cool so that you can enjoy them al fresco, how about the External Refrigerator, which fits to an outside wall? During the night, or in cold weather, the external temperatures are used to keep the contents cool, while in the daytime and warmer weather, energy is provided through its solar panels.

For more on the Grand Designs Live show and the products featured, head to

Grand Designs Live: Gadgets galore for the house of the future

Naomi MacKay
This week’s Grand Designs Live London 2011 has lots of treats in store for gadget lovers.There’s no excuse for not spending time in the kitchen if you have the latest tailored kitchen from specialist Italian manufacturer TM Italia.


Its latest automated kitchen, dubbed PETRA, can be ‘unfolded’ using a remote control, which removes the worktops and lacquered stone or metal panels to reveal the usable areas underneath. The idea is that the kitchen can be made to ‘melt’ into the existing living space – an added bonus in the new open-plan designs that are appearing in homes of today.


We’re all after more space, and want rooms to have more than one function. Lots of us have home offices, that sometimes need to be used as guest rooms – or in smaller houses and flats, the room needs to have one function during the day and become a bedroom at night. Enter the Liftbed, which disappears into the ceiling at the flick of a switch, allowing the floorspace to be used for an office, playroom or home gym. The Liftbed has been custom built by a 3D robotic engineering company that also produces parts for Porsche and Audi vehicles.

With the weather heating up, the iwing fan has appeared at just the right time. Looking like a futuristic bird, it features large wings, which swing back and forth to create a natural stream of air. Its gentle action is apparently soundless, so a step up from noisy fans – particularly useful if you like a fan on at night when the whirring of a conventional fan can make it hard to nod off.


If you’re a big reader, take a look at the Long Form Library. This circular piece of furniture is made from hand-cut plywood. The user sits within the circle, surrounded by all their books and films, and can gently rock back and forth within the ‘cradle’. Reading lamps are positioned for optimum light, while lights around the Long Form Library’s circumference are set to change according to the brightness of the room.

For more on the show and products that are being exhibited, log on to

The House of the Future at Grand Designs Live

Back in the eighties we were often treated to visions of what the house of the future might look like. Opinions varied but normally seemed to revolve around skin tight jumpsuits, pills replacing food and, more often than not, rocket packs. By 2010, we were told, we’d all be taking weekend trips to the moon.

It was all very adventurous and looking back you can’t help but wonder if they were taking it entirely seriously? However, these days we know better. We don’t want jet packs or rocket ships or even laser guided bread knives. What we need is the same tech as today only very slightly better. And that’s exactly what you’ll find if you head to Grand Designs Live this May.


The House of the Future Exhibition presented by Phillips promises to showcase the best the world has to offer in consumer domestic technology. There will be more gadgets than we could possibly hope to cover here, but let’s give it a go anyway.

The headline act looks set to be WiPower; the futuristic technology that promises to free us from the tyranny of plugs. Yes electricity has gone wireless. The boffins behind WiPower have been wowing audiences around the world with there cable free light bulbs. Now it is London’s turn and the results look to be truly amazing.

Elsewhere the emphasis is on intelligence. We have intelligent wardrobes, a smart oven that knows when to open and even an image conscious mirror that knows how to flatter its owner.

It comes from Phillips and makes use of the latest LED technology to shed a flattering light on even the most unappealing forms. The reflection panel is made up of lots of small Organic LEDs (OLEDs). As you pass in front these dim transforming them, for a brief moment into a mirror. The OLEDs that do stay lit subsequently bathe you in a warm and flattering light. So if you want to see yourself as you do, rather than the world does, this is for you.

Of course no house of the future would be complete without a few gadgets designed to deal with the coming environmental apocalypse. Global warming is on its way. Water in the future will be scarce. However, should the worst come to pass fear not. Electrolux will be showcasing a waterless washing machine that uses negative ions to wash nano coated clothes. All it does is lie on top of them and physics does the rest.

So there you have it. What a brave new world we’re getting into. So if you want a glimpse at what the future might bring head along to ExCel in Docklands, London, between May 1st and May 9th.