Clerkenwell is an area for creatives to convene, a bright light that attracts showrooms, architects, design agencies likes moths. I have always loved exploring the area which has many other highlights including its cluster of historically significant buildings like The Charterhouse. Clerkenwell Design Week is a celebration of all the area provides, a chance to network & display design products from around the world.
Over the years CDW has changed for me, from the loss of the lovely Farmiloe building as it centre to the slow reduce of visible homeware accessory exhibitors. Becoming more B2B than I think is truly interesting for members of public, like my mother who likes to come and experience the stunning venues filled with clever brands. I admit, I go every year, so the immediate wow isn’t there for me anymore and I have to do a lot of research to find things I want to see.
So for now for me Clerkenwell is enjoyed by seeing it through the eyes of others, whether its following the brands that exhibit’s social media or following the advice of some of my design influencers who manage to see the brilliance in something I might have passed by completely. Ever the organised wanderer, I started in the ICON House of Culture and then made my way north hitting the major venues on my way to see what his year had to offer.
It’s the second year of Fabric being a key venue at CDW and I admit its a lovely one; full of dark corners & brick barrelled vaulted ceilings. It’s also usually got something a little different hidden away inside.
Bang & Olufsen
sponsored & exhibited. A brand which I should have known more about but was impressed with their use of hidden technical elements behind these beautiful design forms. My mother might not have appreciated the cage like display they put up, which wasn’t particularly health & safety tested in the dark, but their new BeoSound Shape speaker design caught my eye. It’s a wireless system for design conscious music lovers – offering immersive sound & a customisable design with integrated noise dampers for improved room acoustics.
Something I really hate about my living room is all the wires flying around the room so anything that takes them out the equation get’s my vote. They come in some rich blush colours and will be coming to store in Fall 17. Exciting.
Curiousa & Curiousa
had a nice passing display on the stairs as you descended the venue, I love this brand; coming across them at LDF in their Islington showroom last year, they make stunning jewel like hand-blown glass pieces.
I can spend ages looking through their commissioned projects gallery, stunning interior style in all shapes & colours. Lovely story behind this British brand who put just as much life and quality in to every pendant they make.
There was a fair amount of lighting to choose from in the House of Culture but I think I was more impressed with the display than the product itself it lots of cases. Bert | Frank was the first display of the week to bring the outdoors indoors to immerse you in calming foliage and soft lighting. Industrial era inspired pieces with a modern twist, they are entirely made in Britain just in case you were wondering.
I was also introduced to a big name from this years sponsor list, eporta. They are an online platform for architects, interior stylists, retailers, developers etc to help them source furniture, lighting & accessories direct from suppliers. A sourcing platform with pretty good taste is their display of product spotlights was anything to go by. Once I saw their selection at fabric, I’d seen the best pieces of the other venues all in one place, little bit of a spoiler if I’m honest.
My first and usually my favourite of the CDW presents installation was inside St John’s Gate created this year by Aldworth James & Bond a Deptford based creative build specialist. Order is a component based structure made up of Corian using a historic motif that is firmly rooted in the heritage of Clerkenwell. Although I liked it, I think they missed a beat, not working more with the architectural shape of the archway itself.
Moving through the archway you get to Additions, dedicated to smaller design pieces and interior accessories. Supposedly in a more market style layout but to be honest it’s just a large gazebo, sorry CDW, I know markets and that weren’t it.
It is still where I find familiar names which I hope you recognise from this blog or my Instagram feed. Lovely Amalia architectural designs – Linescapes & classy Rachel from shiny Lollipop Designs. These ladies always have a great offering and bring out lots of new bits to keep you interested.
Here’s a couple of new names of the cushion variety, these came up in my social feed after visiting, from the likes of stylish interiors blogger Melanie Lissack. I love cushions, the more impractical the better. It’s a secret desire of mine to collect them… especially if they can be found in Liberty where lots of my guilty purchases are made.
Around this area is great with Craft Central on the corner who held open studios in the afternoons and The Transport for London broaches on display downstairs. Of course Marby & Elm is a given as well, you can’t really visit Clerkenwell without dropping by for some yummy letterpress typography.
Detail was held in the priory, another beautiful location but filled with almost the same roster of brands as last year. A few exceptions, the crypt filled by Michael Northcroft pieces including some live craving action. Also another eporta spotlight Jonathan Field who makes beautiful subtle wood tables.
Another little feature outside Detail was a pavillion structure created by Gills Miller Studio called The Bolt for Detroit brand Shinola. Whereas the exterior did nothing for me, the inside product was much more tangible. Functional items of beauty and nice little display & customising features, might wander to find their Soho store soon.
Now to another crypt this time the brick barrel roofed St James Church filled for the second year with British Collections. It was another one that I didn’t spend too much time in on the day but went away with names to look up later.
Mann Made London had lots of interesting industrial pieces from their Battersea Collection creating a real London urban vibe wherever they might end up. Including my favourite magazine rack (another eporta spotlight piece, told you they chose all the best bits).
Lozi had a good display all together but no one pieces stood out for me design wise, including an eve mattress upon their bed that is everywhere at the moment. There was also some super shiny gold sinks, that I managed to not snap a name or picture of… can anyone help me out here the CDW guide didn’t help.
Finally another little hint from Melanie, Pluck’s new cork textured kitchens. I had seen their shelving units before but their new colours & materials combinations are particularly attention grabbing.
Project was in two of CDW ‘gazebos’ again in the church yard of St James. Filled with international furniture, lighting & surface design brands and now connected together for easy walkabout.
I think the only key points I took away from the venue was the desire to have a plug socket & USB port in each chair arm and trendy colour pallets are completely allowed when it comes to office chairs. Outside in the sunny surrounds was the Scale Rule Next Generation Design Pavilion and TiiPii’s floating beds. Authentic Aussie style with it’s clever yet minimalist design that can be carried away in a canvas bag.
Slipping around the back of the church toward’s the final two venues of the festival, passing by the walkway housing ‘Double Vision’ the installation created by Hakwood. Lots of snaps of this filled Instagram during the festival what do you think?
The house of detention is a great venue now its got added air con, even if you have to squeeze in and avoid some dripping ceiling. Wandering in and out of cells I saw a little bit of everything in here, from gramophone phone styled speakers for you iphone to urban living plant walls.
Couple of nice interior brands as well, Frances Bradley creates natural wood edged tables, with unique resin art effect’s. Running like a river down the centre of locally sourced materials that can often be traced to a particular tree.
a luxury Brazilian brand was seducing your home during CDW with illuminating bold colours and powerful finishes. Their new geometric pouf shape was all glam and I can’t wait to see more of the new collection they launched at the show.
Just one more lighting design for you to admire, this one from Louise Tucker made of hand woven maple wood, it is both a sculptural object and delicate light feature. The Pren collection comes in 6 sizes and would suit lots of interior styles.
The final stop at Design Fields to the North means I have reached the end of the trail. With the final and largest venue housing international contemporary design and top homegrown talent. Lots of large office furniture to choose from with interesting surface finishes.
Also at Design Fields you found a few more of the largest CDW presents installations including the climbable Beacon and Buzzi Jungle. Each requiring a level of interactivity (mainly to climb on it) with vibrant exteriors to grab your attention as you cross their path.
So there’s all the big venues for you, what do we think? Less attention grabbing than last year? I think there are still some amazing brands exhibiting at CDW but I think just saying in your guide that its your 8th and best year yet doesn’t make it so. I think it’s more about being on the list than actually attending, unless you book on a talk, pay for a workshop or have a trusted tour guide you can enjoy the design brands from the comfort of the exhibitor list.
I have said this to someone recently, I wish there was an interiors magazine focusing on renting spaces. I can’t do a stich with some of these huge fixed pieces, so how can I get creative without loosing my deposit. These are the things I want to be inspired about, not live forever wondering if I’ll have somewhere to install these large dream pieces. So who’s going to pick up that idea? Thanks ahead of time xx
I did a few showrooms on Day 2, do you want to see what I got up to? Or is that enough from CDW for another year.
*I hope you noticed I tried something a little different this post mixing some amazing brand imagery with my own photos from the day. Some of the venues were just a little too dark for my quick snaps to do the products justice. Mostly my images are in galleries and any of the collage pieces are collected from the brands amazing digital channels so all rights & impressed wow’s belong to them.