Beautiful Windbreaks

In our quest for interesting people and products we have discovered Diana Robbins who makes the very best windbreaks we have ever come across. Not only are they very strong, robust and well made but they are also come in great colours and designs. They are made from sailcloth and she tells us that she will make them bespoke if you know what colours you want. 

We invited Diana to appear on Silverlinks and she has submitted this article about her and her product. We think you will find it interesting. 

Dart Designs – The Inspiration

windbreaksDart Designs hand builds high quality designer windbreaks made from a combination of new and recycled sailcloth. The windbreaks have abstract designs based on sail shapes and they are individually created from real yacht and windsurfing sails, incorporating original nautical features, so that no two are exactly the same.

Diana has had this idea for over 20 years, but it was not until the summer of 2009 when she was made redundant from her position as a lecturer that she finally found herself in a position to enable her to realise her idea. Dart Designs was formed as a result of her experience as an International windsurfer, and her passion for the coast, windsurfing and sailing. Twenty years ago, whilst competing, she was given some advertising banners made from sailcloth from one of her sponsors, and had the idea of stitching them together to make a windbreak. “My Grandmother and Grandfather had an upholstery business, and my Grandmother was a very clever seamstress. She made this first windbreak and it has been much admired over the years, with many people asking where they could get one similar, and in fact it is still in use today” Diana is always inspired by the coast and loves to be near it whenever possible. “This product for me is a wonderful reflection of the charm of the coastal lifestyle,and inspired its creation”

diana robbinsThe inspiration was also brought about by the general lack of choice and poor quality of the majority of windbreaks currently available, and the desire to create windbreaks which are of high quality, durable, unique, individual, and beautiful. These windbreaks are larger than usual and have steel tipped and capped wooden poles. The windbreaks are lightweight and extremely durable. What better material to use than sailcloth; it is designed to be used in the elements. “If you love the beach why put up with poor quality windbreaks that all look the same and only last a season. These look fantastic on the beach, will probably last a lifetime and can even be personalized with chosen sail numbers, e.g. a birthday or wedding date. Lots of people have bought them as special presents”.

Environmental and sustainability benefits were also a driving force. “Sailcloth is petrol based, and takes a long time to decompose when buried in the ground. Recycled sailcloth has a lot of life left in it, as it is extremely hardwearing. It also softens and takes on an attractive distressed weathered patina with age, which only serves to add to its attractiveness and appeal”

“Setting up this business has enabled me to have a complete lifestyle change” Diana runs the business from home, beside the beautiful River Dart in Devon where she lives with her partner David and 17 year old son Ben. “David helped me convert our garage in to a workshop. A good friend lent me an industrial sewing machine, and I was very lucky to have some good contacts in the sailing industry to source materials”.

Diana runs the business completely on-line. “The fact that the windbreaks are only available on-line adds to their exclusivity.”

Diana was delighted with the response she received in her first year, and the business has grown from strength to strength, with numbers of sales continuing to grow. “The windbreaks seem to appeal to a certain kind of person who just fall in love with them, and decide that they have to have one! I have received some wonderful feedback from customers, which is proudly displayed on the website!”

The product has won awards for design and Innovation, which include a silver medal presented at ‘The British Invention Show’ in 2009, and has been featured in several national magazines.

Diana works long hours, which running your own business inevitably involves, but loves the flexibility “I am happy to work lots of hours when the weather is miserable, but can go windsurfing when the sun comes out and the wind blows. I would recommend running your own business to anyone. If you are passionate about something – go for it. It is never too late. Some might think that it wasn’t a good idea to start a business in a recession, but then again, if you can start a business in a recession and it works, hopefully it should continue to be a success. If you have a product people fall in love with, they will buy it!”

Some of Diana’s designs have ‘clear’ windows in them, making it ideal for keeping an eye on the children, or looking at the view. So often the wind on a beach is on shore and the view is obscured with the windbreak.“ Because each windbreak is unique, it enables you to define your pitch and stand out from the crowd in style, making it easy for children to spot on a crowded beach!”

The windbreaks also come with a part sailcloth and polyester weather resistant carry bag. The design is inspired by yacht racing buoys that you find out at sea. The bag has an adjustable shoulder strap making it easy to carry and feels very light when placed on the shoulder. “I noticed how people struggle on the beach trying to carry windbreaks with the poles sliding out, and the windbreaks un-rolling, whilst loaded down with other beach gear, and have struggled with this myself!”

Diana has ideas for new products made of sailcloth, but only wishes she had more time to develop them “I have been much busier than I anticipated, so at the moment this has left little time for further product development”

Diana Robbins

Dart Designs

Dart View Cottage, Staverton, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6NX

Web: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: 01803762698

My Devon

Best walk:  Beside the River Dart from Staverton to Dartington to Totnes

Best day out: Windsurfing with Ben my son at South Milton Sands, near Kingsbridge, followed by a fabulous beach barbeque with friends.

Best place to eat: Rosie’s café at the Sharpham vineyard, Ashprington. Fabulous Alfresco dining with amazing views of the River Dart.

The Vineyard Café

Tel: 01803 732178 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Best View: Looking back at the Salcombe Estuary from Bolt Head