The fourth annual Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) welcomed over 150 designers and manufacturers from the UK and abroad keen to display their latest innovations. This year saw an enhanced format take shape, with increased exhibition spaces, a range of curated projects and a comprehensive programme of talks and seminars from prominent design experts.
The three-day festival certainly held its own as one of the most anticipated and influential events on the UK design calendar. In addition to the plethora of showrooms – which were dotted around Clerkenwell – new products were displayed in exhibition venues representing centuries of the area’s history.
The Farmiloe Building, an impressive, industrial-style former-Victorian merchants warehouse, hosted a range of high-profile international brands. Jennifer Newman exhibited alongside Morgan, Another Country, Mass Productions, EMU, Pinch and Swedese. The Brits were well represented, with the likes of Young and Norgate displaying previously-unseen furniture designs, MARK highlighting its new seating range and coffee table, and Deadgood launching a new collection by Lee Broom.
Scandanavia was well-represented, with Mitab launching its Mute chair and Muuto displaying a selection of handpicked iconic products from Norway, Finland and Denmark. Furthermore, Spanish design studio, Viccarbe exhibited its latest products, alongside Italian brands Zanotta, La Palma and Bedont, and Czech manufacturer TON. Dining and lounge furniture maker, KFF, represented the latest in German design.
Set within a 12th century crypt and a charming garden, The Order of St John section opened in response to a steady rise in visitors from the interior design community, catering for an increased focus on interior decoration trends. An intricate one-off installation by lighting designer, Sharon Marston, welcomed visitors into the building, who were directed downstairs to an impressive space dedicated to Louis Henri’s high-end, design-led furniture.
In the 700-year-old church, Munna displayed two chairs from its ultra-exclusive, limited-edition collection, Dress Me, for which various designers have reinvented seven pieces from the Fetiche collection. Meanwhile, Boca do Lobo, Koket and Delightfull exhibited their latest luxury pieces, alongside Ginger & Jagger, Prêt à Vivre, Ochre, Lardbeck, Sé London and Virginia White.
The House of Detention, a subterranean Victorian prison, formed the festival’s hotspot for young design talent, with Evil Robot showing new work, alongside cutting-edge designers such as James Tattersall, Fred and Juul, Regina Heinz, Freyka Sewell and Foreign Bear Studio. In addition, the three winners of the 2012 W Hotels Designers of the Year award presented their pieces together for the first time in the UK.
Covered at Charterhouse Square provided a hub for visitors with a particular interest in surface innovations. An ideal meeting point for architects, designers and specifiers, the pavilion featured products from some of the industry’s leading names, including Muraspec, CDS Tiles, Airea, Rainleaf Design, Corian, Burmatex, Giles Miller and Materials Council, which also hosted drop-in sessions to advise on the latest materials and technologies.
As ever, debate remains a crucial part of the design community, and CDW was not short on things to get visitors talking. The SCIN Gallery hosted an exhibition entitled Making Designers, which was put together by James McLachlan, editor of onoffice, and MARK. The inspiring exhibit highlighted the issue of education in design, and featured work that various established names – including Terence Woodgate, Ab Rogers, Mark Gabbertas and Simon Pengelly – had created during their school years.
In addition, Heyworth hosted a series of workshops inspired by research projects at The Royal College of Art. Living Stages by RCA researcher, Tom Jarvis, explored the topic of theatre design and its relationship with the workplace, while Living Cities by Imogen Privett highlighted how physical settings can support greater flexibility and agility at work. Design and architecture practice, TILT, also joined the debate, presenting its unique co-design process.