Samu Sounds

Organic Music Tokyo - SUGAI KEN -NTS Radio

SUGAI KEN is an electronic musician based in Kanagawa, Japan. He combines synthesis with recordings of his daily surroundings to conjure the subtle and profound ambience of the Japanese nightscape. His music evokes a nocturnal peace, reflecting the intangible qualities of his memory and dreams. As opening for our first show, we introduce you eight fantastic tracks SUGAI selected by himself.


work and play

“This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.” 
― Alan W. Watts

Colombian ex-prisoners weave a new life

Marni - 100 Chairs

It’s been said that a chair is a designer’s self-portrait, and this series conjures a strong, welcoming Colombian connection. Furniture design is constantly pushing the boundaries of form, materiality and processes to strive for new perspectives and visually exciting outcomes. This charity project by Marni employs Colombian ex-prisoners to weave these chairs using traditional techniques as part of a rehabilitation programme. The chairs are produced from salvaged materials including concrete reinforcing bars for the structure and coloured PVC piping for the seat and backrests. Marni chose the twenty colours that run throughout the palette, and had seven models in which to experiment with as well as ten deckchairs and ten tables. The results look visually dynamic and structurally simplistic, but are surprisingly complex. The fact the weaving has been completed as part of a rehabilitation method means there’s not only a tangible end-product, but that this production process can benefit people’s lives. This adds a human touch to the chairs that similar mass produced items in the marketplace cannot offer. The materials chosen are also significant to the final outcome, using unconventional materials makes the chairs feel fresh and contemporary, whilst the contrasting traditional weaving technique takes the project from the romantic to the functional.

Salik Miller

Change the micro to change the macro

This series of videos really inspired me to look at my own supply chain, to rethink how I made 'stuff' and to write this blog post. Please take a moment to watch and read. 

I believe that many of the big problems will only change when we change our own individual habits and ways of living. It's our own everyday smaller decisions that will make the larger positive changes. We have the power in our hearts and pockets to steer our planet and each other into better health. Together let's put our energy towards building a greener economy because If we don’t now quite simply there will be no playing fields to play ball on. Buy well made and buy less.

I invite you to make a cuppa, get comfortable and watch the following videos made by our friends over at The Story of Stuff who've made a series of videos that will breakdown the true cost, health dangers and environmental impact that products around us are really having on us.

Click here for the whole playlist of videos

Food & Drink


You’ve heard of drinking responsibly, it’s high time to drink socially responsibly.  Lemonaid ( and ChariTea ( is a project that pioneers a new take on social drinking; the range of seven soft drinks and ice teas not only taste good, as a social enterprise, they also do good.  



Lemonaid is a trio of truly sustainable soft drinks and ChariTea a range of equally ecological iced teas - the ingredients are organic, vegan and are sourced from small-scale farming cooperatives in Sri Lanka, Paraguay, Mexico and South Africa. Lemonaid & ChariTea are committed to Fairtrade: they pay higher prices for their raw ingredients and, vitally, they support a fair and humane agriculture.  With help from the Fairtrade Bonuses, local farmers can improve their living conditions and initiate community projects. 

Every bottle of Lemonaid & ChariTea that is sold also contributes to a higher cause. The brand is dedicated to supporting local projects that improve social, ecological and economical structures in those parts of the world that global economic developments have placed at a significant disadvantage, donating five pence for every bottle sold to the not-for-profit charitable organization Lemonaid and ChariTea e.V. Over £1,000,000 has been raised to date for development aid projects, including education, childcare, mental health and infrastructural initiatives; as an example, in return for sourcing rooibos tea from the post-apartheid Heiveld alliance in South Africa, the brand finances a solar power system that now supplies the villages with electricity.


Lemonaid & ChariTea began life in Germany in 2008 in a small kitchen in Hamburg’s bohemian St Pauli district.  The Founders juiced limes, brewed tea, crushed sugar, invited friends over and clinked glasses, all with a greater vision in mind, “to incite and shape the process of social change.” The brands are now launching to the UK with the same ‘MO’ – to make great-tasting drinks properly, whilst doing everything in their power to support communities in need in the smartest way possible.

Totally free from preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavourings, Lemonaid’s lightly sparkling organic soft drinks are made from the very best fresh juices and are sweetened with cane sugar, using up to 50% less sugar than regular soft drinks; choose from the thirst-quenching and zestfully refreshing Lemonaid Lime, Lemonaid Passion Fruit and Lemonaid Blood Orange.


ChariTea’s clean-tasting, uplifting organic iced teas are made from freshly brewed loose leaf tea, which is refined with pure fruit juices and lightly sweetened with natural sweeteners, agave syrup or honey.  Choose from ChariTea red (Rooibos tea with passion fruit), ChariTea green (Green tea with ginger and honey) and ChariTea black (Black tea with lemon).

Perhaps the most innovative in the range is ChariTea’s, Great Taste Award winning, mate: lightly carbonated, real brewed ice tea from full yerba mate leaves.  A natural caffeine boost, mate is a great alternative to sickly sweet energy drinks; ChariTea mate contains twice as much caffeine as a Coke and with no added sugar (natural agave syrup is used to sweeten) and just 17 kcal per 100ml, it’s a delicious and wholesome alternative to a Red Bull.  


Called “the drink of the gods” by many indigenous South Americans, Yerba mate is a traditional brew that’s been said to offer the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate”.  The elixir has also become an essential component of hacktivism, club culture and the tech scene across Berlin and Hamburg.  It provides a more mellow and enduring caffeine fix than coffee and is rocket-fuel when supped at the bar, topped up with a dash of dark rum.  

Whether paired with food or guzzled on their own, Lemonaid & ChariTea are excellent thirst-slaking options for on-the-go drinking, as an appealing alcohol-free option or as a versatile mixer for your favourite spirit.  Try the Sipsmith Lemojito – fresh mint leaves muddled with sugar, topped with lime wedges, Sipsmith London dry gin and Lemonaid Lime or the Stormy ChariTea – rum, lemon juice, freshly grated ginger and agave syrup, shaken with ice and topped with fresh ginger and ChariTea black.

Launched into Whole Foods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Planet Organic, As Nature Intended, Amazon and a raft of deli and health foods stores across the UK; Lemonaid & ChariTea are currently lining up further national stockists and wholesalers, along with on-trade stockists including restaurants, bars and cafés. 



The Groove Yoga Festival 2016 Review

The Groove Yoga Festival
Island Jam - Hvar - Croatia 

Constantly, I hear people complaining about so-called ‘yogi parties’ – there’s no drink, no drugs and they usually end before 11pm. Whether or not you are a practicing yogi or yogini, The Groove is not only the best yogi party you could attend, but also one of the best festivals I have ever been to. It is a series of yoga and music festivals that take place across the world, from Ontario to Nepal. Myself and the Samu Studio team were invited to the Island Jam Edition, set on Hvar, Croatia, at the Amfora Hotel, which overlooks the Adriatic. The Groove is, in their own words, “a celebration of movement, music and community,” so let’s break this review down into those three components.


Coming to the festival as a strictly traditional ashtangi, I was wide-eyed by the diversity of yogic styles that were on offer, with every class taught in a way that was challenging, fun and inspiring. With such a range of wonderful teachers and perspectives, I left with a broadened panorama of the world of yoga. I was amazed by what I came to learn about myself, was able to do things – on and off the mat – of which I didn’t know I was capable, and tried styles I hadn’t known existed. For example, Budokon, a very fluid style which intertwines hatha yoga and tai chi, taught by Eva Klein, who taught me that “the way we do anything is the way we do everything.” One of the many examples of wisdom I have treasured from this experience.
    For beginning practitioners, The Groove is the best opportunity I can think of to dissolve the misconception that yoga is just stretching, and to see into the vastness and the oneness of it. If you are daunted by the abundance of yoga (about nine hours from Thursday to Sunday), there’s no pressure whatsoever to attend every session. Though I’d recommend trying out as much as possible. Furthermore, my two companions on the Good Life team, Jason and Sam, who were relative beginners, loved and learnt just as much as I did. If, like me, you don’t want to miss a moment, then the energy you create leaves more than enough for a final dance at the end of each day, be it beneath the moon, or in the rain. This brings me smoothly to the second element of The Groove:


Again, coming from a traditional background, where the only sound in the room is the hush of ujjayi breathing, I was dubious about music being played during the sessions, but found that the quality and choice of music actually empowered my practice. An example and an unforgettable moment was the evening of Twee Merrigan’s lesson, ‘Returning Home’. With our mats laid out in concentric circles, we moved to the moonlight and to DJ Drez’s music, which he wove in with our poses and gradually built up into one of the most natural progressions of asanas to dancing I could imagine. As a shy dancer, I was nervous about dancing without any kind of social lubrication, but such an atmosphere was set that all uncertainty was forgotten and I felt able to move freely, without embarrassment, in bliss.
    Some may say that yoga and music are separate entities, but for those like David Lurey, they are very much interlinked, and compound together to form an entirely different entity. David told me that “the universe exists in vibration” and that through various kinds of yoga like mantra, or even asana, we can harmonize with these frequencies, bringing ourselves into balance. And it was through combining movement with music and a collective of wonderful people that the last element of The Groove was created:


Before the festival had begun, I briefly spoke to Jang-Ho about the kindness of yogis. We agreed that the cause of this is the goodness that comes with practicing yoga, one that we want nothing more than to share with the world. Just as David said when I asked him what his intention was as a teacher: “to inspire health and vitality.”
    I saw this goodness spread from day one, when people were first introducing themselves by shaking hands, which evolved to heartfelt embraces by the end of the second day. There was a warmth which ran through everyone with whom I was fortunate enough to meet, converse and connect.
    In DJ Drez and Marti Nikko’s session, ‘Dreaming in Sanskrit’, when asked I decided to go onstage to sing a complicated mantra, realizing that I would regret what I didn’t do, rather than what I did. Having remembered my fear of singing, I started to trip over the words. Mumbling, I looked down until Marti, who was sitting next to me, told me to look at everyone. I lifted my eyes to a sea of faces smiling with the warmth of old friends. ‘Old friends’ – that is exactly how I felt towards everyone by the end of the festival, whether or not we had ever met.


On a more serious afterthought, if we take The Groove as a microcosmic example of the ways in which yoga can bring people together, then it seems to me that it is the medicine needed to heal the societal rifts that are perpetuating. During the festival, I felt all sense of anxiety and social hierarchy melt away, an amazing thing in a time when these two concepts bare such weight.
    Doug Swenson told me that “yoga is what’s outside the box.” Keeping that in mind, as well as the nine-to-five world within which we exist, the way of liberation is through yoga, through the freedom and spontaneity which, in Nina Vukas’ words, is “what it means to practice yoga.” In conversation, Nina and I spoke about why yoga is growing with such momentum. We came to the conclusion that it is because yoga is more necessary than ever, so that we might see beyond the box that has been built around us. Only then can we step out of it both physically and spiritually, and it is festivals like the Groove that we have to thank for helping spread this awareness.
    The Samu crew and I left feeling like we had been a part of something very special, an important link in a chain reaction which is reaching round the world, originating in India thousands of years ago, and spread beyond it by Srí Krishnamacharya who “believed yoga to be India’s greatest gift to the world.” The Groove proves this to be true and I advise anyone who reads this to find out for themselves.

We sincerely thank Liz Huntly, Roland Jensch, Jang-Ho Kim, Nina Vukas, Frank Bartl, Doug Swenson, Twee Merrigan, David Lurey, DJ Drez, Marti Nikko, Mackenzie Miller, Dylan Werner, Daphne Tse, Johanna Andersson, Eva Klein, Andrea Sauter, Beate Tschirch, Franca, Hanna Witte.


Benjamin E.I. Lubbock

Video by Jason Drake

Photos by Hanna Witte

First Solar Powered Round the World Flight

After covering 42,000km, crossing four continents, three seas and two oceans, Solar Impulse 2 touched down on Tuesday 26th March to complete the first round-the-world flight by a solar powered aeroplane. Solar Impulse 2 set off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015 and took on 16 stages and numerous setbacks to the expedition to complete its journey where it all began in Abu Dhabi.

The two Swiss pilots and co-founders of the project Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg alternated the 16 legs of the journey. The pair were only able to take short naps and the single seat also doubled up as a toilet. The two pilots had to spend up to five days at a time in the unheated and unpressurised cabin.  To calm their minds and manage fatigue during the long solo flights, Borschberg practiced yoga and Piccard self-hypnosis.


The pilots said it was an amazing adventure, despite sitting in a freezing cold cockpit for as long as five days and five nights at a time, not having enough room to stretch their arms, have a shower, or even go to the toilet properly.

In a statement this week, Borschberg said it is no longer a question of whether it's possible to fly without fuel or polluting emissions. 

"By flying around the world thanks to renewable energy and clean technologies, we have demonstrated that we can now make our world more energy efficient," he said. 
"The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let's take it further," Piccard said.


Borschberg was in charge of the longest leg which was 4000 miles over the Pacific from Japan to Hawaii and broke the record for the longest uninterrupted flight in aviation history.

The longest leg of the journey was an 8,924km flight from Nagoya in Japan to Hawaii in the USA - it lasted nearly 118 hours and broke the absolute world record for the longest solo flight without a break. During the global adventure the team set 19 official flight records.

Piccard, a psychiatrist, is the son of undersea explorer Jacques Piccard and a grandson of balloonist Auguste Piccard. In 1999, he became the first person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop in a hot air balloon. Borschberg, an engineer and graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is also an entrepreneur. He launched the Solar Impulse project in 2003 with Piccard.

Solar Impulse 2 carries more than 17,248 solar cells on its wings which are 3.5m wider than that of a Boeing 747. During daylight, the plane’s batteries were charged by the solar panels which was over a quarter of a ton. Expedition began in Abu Dhabi in March 2015 and has spent just over 23 days in the air. The journey hastaken the aeroplane across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans using no fossil fuels.


The project is estimated to cost more than $100 million. The UAE-based Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s government clean-energy company, was a main sponsor of the flight. There were more than 40 additional sponsors, including Omega, Belgian chemical company Solvay, Swedish-Swiss automation corporation ABB, Swiss manufacturer Schindler, Google, and Moet Hennessey among others. 

The pilots faced a nine-month delay a year ago after the plane's batteries were damaged during a flight from Japan to Hawaii. It was also delayed for more than a week in Cairo ahead of its final flight to Abu Dhabi when Piccard fell ill, and due to poor weather conditions. 

Over its entire mission, Solar Impulse 2 completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at an average speed of between 28 mph (45 kmh) and 56 mph (90 kmh). It made stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Its North American stops included California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. 


Mindful Makers - Hokema

High quality german made kalimbas powered by nature

I was first introduced to the unique sounds of Hokema at Groove Yoga Festival back in September. This was during a sound healing meditation class hosted by Daphne Tse. We were near to the end of the class and deep into the meditation when Daphne began to play her Sansula / Kalimba. After class Daphne let me play on the Sansula and I made note of the maker's name as I knew I had to find out more. This name was Hokema.


I now have my own Hokema and often take it out with me to local cafes, bars and play in the evening whilst having dinner with friends. As you play, time drifts and you can easily get yourself into a trance like state. 

The Sansula Renaissance Elektro can be amplified via the piezo pickup in the sound block and a microphone that sits inside the frame. So I'm looking forward to hooking it up to a loop pedal and amplifying layers of sounds.

The Hokema Story

The breakthrough came in 2001 when Peter invented the Sansula: an oval wooden frame covered with drumskin which resonates to the tones of the Kalimba mounted in the centre. The sounds were immediately greeted with great enthusiasm and the instrument was duly patented.

Today the family firm, in its second generation and with 9 employees, is one of the leading producers worldwide of various models of attractive and easily-playable Kalimbas. They are made of high quality materials such as cherrywood exclusively in Germany and in cooperation with German suppliers.


The energy required is generated by the company’s own ecologically-friendly photovoltaic module on the roof of the production facility in Walsrode.

Samu Sounds

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass reissued 2017

Charlie Bones played this one morning on NTS and I've been hooked since. Considered a Holy Grail of Japanese music by many, "Through The Looking Glass" is Midori Takada’s first solo endeavor, a captivating four-song suite capturing her deep quests into traditional African and Asian percussive language and exploring contemplative ambient sounds with an admirably precise use of marimba. The result is alternatively ethereal and vibrant, always precise and mesmerising, and makes for an atmospheric masterpiece and an unparalleled sonic and spiritual experience. 

Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass (1983).

1. Mr. Henri Rousseau's Dream
2. Crossing
3. Trompe-L'oeil
4. Catastrophe Σ

Cover: "「残されたアリウス」" by Ochida Yoko (1981).

Furniture Designers Break into New Realms of Materiality

Well Proven Chair 

James Shaw / Marjan van Aubel/ UK

Processing wood from planks to products incurs 50-80% of timber wastage during normal manufacturing. These two designers looked at ways of incorporating waste shavings into the design process using bio-resin. An interesting chemical reaction happens when it is mixed with the shavings; it rapidly expands into a foamed structure. By adding colour dye and experimenting with various sized shavings from different machines, a colourful, lightweight and mouldable material was created that was also durable and reliable. The mixture of resin and shavings are applied to the underside of the chair shell by hand, and then it foams explosively to create its own exuberant form, anchored by the simple turned legs of American ash wood. This object breaks new realms of materiality and challenges the traditions of furniture making, resulting in an ethically produced and consciously designed item. 

Salik Miller

Recycled tents become jackets for the homeless


Bas Timmer / Netherlands

Homelessness is a massive and complex social issue, affecting people all over the globe. Through underlying concerns such as a lack of affordable housing, lack of access to mental health services or lack of addiction recovery programs, people find themselves on the street and very rarely by choice. Dutch designer Bas Timmer recognised a problem with keeping warm on the streets, and provided a great solution – to take leftover tents from festival sites and turn them into fully insulated jackets for the homeless. The Sheltersuit provides full protection from the elements with a top and bottom half, which has been carefully considered to meet the requirements of those in need. Inspired by a friend’s father dying on the streets, makes the project very personal for the designer. Materials which would otherwise be thrown away are being used is a remarkable example of recycling. If that wasn’t enough, the Sheltersuits are sewn with the help of professional tailors whom also happen to be Syrian refugees. They can participate in Sheltersuits in exchange for help with housing and assimilation classes.

Over 2,500 Sheltersuits have already been distributed for free throughout the Netherlands to help those in need.

Salik Miller 

This table is 400% more sustainable than other tables

Ripple Table

Designed by Benjamin Hubert / UK

The ripple table is 400% more sustainable than similar objects on the market, and uses 80% less material than solid timber structures. Its impressive size of 2.4m x 1m is enhanced by the weight of the table, coming in at 12.5kg’s it is perfectly capable of being moved and assembled by a single person effortlessly. Considering its materiality and transit flexibility, the overall carbon footprint of the table is significantly reduced. The table’s corrugated-plywood construction boasts an impressive strength to weight ratio using Sitka spruce, a natural and sustainable material. Aside from these advantages the table is visually provocative with its slender and contemporary form. A reduction in materiality is currently a growing movement in the design industry, and this table reflects the attitudes and possibilities of what is available.

Salik Miller

Sustainability, Art

Colombian Artists Turn Plastic Bottles into Artisan Lamps

Lighting Lives with Plastic Bottles

This project is a great example of sustainable and ethical practice in product design. Taking plastic bottles from polluted rivers and turning them into artisan lamps from local communities across the world is a wonderful idea that opens cultural doors and challenges us to question materiality and processes, whilst simultaneously reminding us that we control the fate of our resources.These are created in conjunction with Colombian artisans, which celebrate and extend traditional weaving techniques from a culturally rich heritage. Each lamp begins as a discarded plastic bottle with the neck providing the structure, whilst the body is lacerated to form a warped shape that can then be woven. The artisans select their chosen colours and patterns based on their own weaving traditions. The original shape of the bottle dictates how it will be cut and influences its final shape, meaning every lamp is entirely unique. The project is moving to other areas which opens the doors to even more culturally rich designs. 

Salik Miller