3 min read20 May 2019
From beer made with bread to custom coffins, here are some of the most unusual and inventive businesses in Britain, demonstrating that sometimes those crazy ideas aren’t so crazy after all.20 May 2019
Everyday life is an excellent catalyst for imagination and can bring about some of the most out of this world ideas. These unique businesses demonstrate that you should never discount an idea just because it seems a little out-there.
Aircraft enthusiasts and fans of frequent flying, take note. We have the company for you: Plane Industries (planeindustries.com) takes used aeroplane parts and turns them into upmarket furniture and home decor. Rescuing the materials from plane graveyards, the Bath-based workshop enables you to curl up in a chair made from the engine of a Boeing 737 (above) or sit at a coffee table built from the exit door of an Airbus A320. For those with lesser budgets, products sold by Plane Industries – from cufflinks to clocks – are guaranteed to help you and your home appear more worldly.
Many of us spend quite a bit of effort and money, making sure we’re up on all the latest style trends. But, what happens to that style once we die? A lifetime of curating our own unique look just falls to the wayside as we conform to the staid tropes of the traditional funeral. Crazy Coffins (crazycoffins.co.uk) makes sure that won’t happen to any of their customers. So, whether you want to shuffle off this mortal coil via a suitcase, a shoe or a guitar, Crazy Coffins will work with you to make your post-life dreams a reality.
Playing with food is the name of the game at the Robin Collective (therobincollective.co.uk) – a group composed of, among others, chefs, artists, and entertainers, who take wacky ideas and turn them into edible art. From a Beyoncé cheese sculpture dubbed Brieyoncé (below) to The Grand Beedapest Hotel, a luxury resort for the honeymaking insects, this group couldn’t care less about proper dining etiquette.
Credit: Hope & Glory PR
Despite its name, the only thing ruthless about this trendy haunt is the cocktail menu. Among the bowls of sugary cereal you'll find boozy abominations such as the Bloody Mariah - our favorite breakfast beverage with a garlic chilli cheerio twist. You can of course stick to the sweeter side of the menu, which features a massive selection of classic cereals, over-the-top hot chocolates and a separate vegan menu, so all breakfast lovers are welcome at the Cereal Killer Cafe (cerealkillercafe.co.uk).
The saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is quite literally brought to life at Pentatonic (pentatonic.com) where used materials - think smashed smartphone screens and tossed coffee cups - are re-fashioned into eco-friendly and highly-functioning products. By challenging our perceptions of waste, what otherwise would have ended up in a landfill, instead, re-cycles its way into homes and commercial spaces. It's a lofty goal, but with large-scale projects such as a recent commission from Starbucks to create furniture and textiles from in-store waste, Pentatonic is well on its way to making a difference.
Don’t be surprised if you find a bug or two in your dinner at Grub Kitchen (grubkitchen.co.uk). Insects abound at this thought-provoking restaurant which challenges standard culinary norms by promoting entomophagy: the practice of eating insects. No, Grub Kitchen doesn’t expect guests to adopt a strictly bug diet, but they do hope to raise awareness of the protein potential in worms, crickets, grasshoppers, and ants alike.
What’s so wild about a chocolate shop? Well this one, called the Wickedly Welsh Chocolate Company (wickedlywelsh.co.uk), shatters your typical chocolate shop expectations with innovative offerings that include chocolate kebabs, chocolate pizzas, chocolate pâté, and chocolate cheeses, which are often infused with equally unusual ingredients. As explained by the Wickedly Welsh website, it’s “all about big flavours, quirky ideas and indulging your Wicked side.” Count us in.
London is flush with historical sites of all shapes an sizes – some grand and oppulent and others far less salubrious. The Attendant Cafe (the-attendant.com) offers a blend of the two. The swanky Fitzrovia cafe is artfully wedged into a site formerly occupied by Victorian public toilets. Following a complete remodel, lucky visitors can enjoy a hot macchiato while sitting in a booth made from the site’s original porcelain urinals. If that isn’t authentic enough, the Attendant Cafe doesn’t take reservations, so guests can expect a nice loo-length queue.
None of us are strangers to the resource strain being put on the planet, but the team at Toast (toastale.com) is doing their part to ensure living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t mean giving up our favorite beverage – beer. Toast helps reduce food waste and carbon emissions by brewing beer with surplus bread that would otherwise be wasted. According to their website, Toast has rescued one million slices of bread that would’ve ended up in the bin. Additionally, 100% of profits are donated to charity. Cheers to that.
Alright, umbrellas aren’t that unusual, but this specialty shop (james-smith.co.uk) has been in London since the Victorian era and has used that time and weathered experience - pun fully intended - to build an impressive stock of brollies, parasols and even walking sticks. Unsure if you’re looking for something modern or traditional, solid or patterned, with a craned hook or embellished handle? Not to worry, they’ve got it all at this one-stop shop.
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