Clerkenwell Design Week is one of the most exciting events in the design calendar. For the uninitiated, this three-day festival held every May celebrates the rich array of designers and brands based in this thriving and dynamic area of London. It’s free to attend and many of the installations are in the open air, so people wandering past can unexpectedly stumble upon them.
In case you didn’t make it to the festival this year, we thought we’d share with you some of our highlights – and if you did make it down then we’d love to hear what you enjoyed, so do leave us a comment at the end…
This year British design house Tom Dixon collaborated with Andrew Baughen, the Vicar of St James’ – a classic 17th century church on Clerkenwell Green, in order to make his unique building available to all daytime residents of Clerkenwell.
The partnership involved installing a large central chandelier in the main space, a co-working environment and a kitchen, all of which have been donated as permanent fixtures. The extraordinary nooks and crannies of this heritage site also provided a fantastic backdrop for the brand to show off its latest lighting and furniture products.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of any exhibition is getting to see behind the scenes and understanding the craft that goes into making the pieces we use every day in our homes. This year, celebrated rug designer Helen Yardley relocated its tufting frame to the Craft Central Gallery in order to share the fascinating technique of hand tufting with visitors. The team ran live demonstrations to give a real insight in to how their rugs are made, showing the skill and care that goes into the process. They also showed off their latest printed flat woven rugs, alongside several new additions to the Helen Yardley collection.
Catellani & Smith
This year saw the launch of a new, somewhat unlikely venue, Fabric nightclub – home to the Icon House of Culture, one of the exhibition spaces featuring a collated selection of international brands. Worth a mention here are lighting designers Catellani & Smith, who replaced the light they sold to Fabric nightclub 16 years ago with a brand new copper version. We wonder if clubbers will appreciate what’s hanging above their heads…
As always, much of the joy of Clerkenwell Design Week came from exploring the area on foot, and stumbling across some of the more dramatic exhibits. Here are a few that caught our eye and our imagination…
The Museum of Making
One of the most dramatic installations was the Museum of Making – a space dedicated to the art of making, featuring daily live demonstrations. Built of EQUITONE, a fibre cement material, the museum was shaped like a deconstructed barn and proved a striking addition to the cityscape. Inside, archival exhibits from the Museum of London were displayed alongside the work of contemporary makers practising in Clerkenwell today.
Giles Miller’s ‘Billboards’
Giles Miller Studio produced a series of large-scale abstract signage sculptures for the exhibition. Each sculpture consisted of square glass tiles composed to create a centralised ‘swoosh’, designed to help visitors move onto the next festival destination. The sculptures were produced in collaboration with British Ceramic Tile, who have just opened their new London hub in… yes, you guessed it … Clerkenwell.
Hakwood & FleaFolly Architects
One of the few remains from Clerkenwell’s monastic past, St John’s Gate is a notable and familiar landmark which plays host to a unique installation during the show each year. This year was no exception! Working alongside Dutch wood flooring manufacturer Hakwood, FleaFolly Architects designed and created ‘HakFolly’, a 4.5m high temple of timber located directly under the arch. Inspired by a visit to Hakwood’s factory in the Netherlands, the HakFolly was designed to create a moment of calm and contemplation in the busy city.
Complete the look: If Clerkenwell Design Week has inspired you to create something dramatic and unusual in your home, consider Todd’s bespoke range of doors.