The central London festival returned this week for its seventh year, with a new layout and four new venues
Clerkenwell Design Week returned this week, but not as we knew it. The central London festival kicked off on Tuesday for its seventh year – this time, without the imposing Farmiloe Building, which has long been at the heart of the event. Instead, CDW launched four new venues, taking the total number of exhibitions to seven – in addition to the almost 100 design showrooms across the area welcoming visitors. Scattered between these were a selection of specially-commissioned installations, including a rather fragrant wooden ‘temple of timber’ under St John’s Gate by FleaFolly Architects, and a colourful structure by Swedish practice White Arkitekter on nearby St John’s Square, which hosted daily makers’ workshops.
The new arrangement meant that the festival was more spread out than in previous years, but allowed it to take advantage of a much wider range of spaces and buildings, from the edge of Exmouth Market in the north to the famed nightclub Fabric near Farringdon station, which was home this year to our own Icon House of Culture (with a cafe and a show of commissioned portraits from recent issues).
If the prospects of bumping into the Icon team and seeing Fabric with the lights on weren't enticement enough, the House of Culture also featured a selection of brands whose designs and displays brought this unique space to life in a whole new way. Among the highlights were the Valet collection from Chinese brand Stellar Works (below), designed by David Rockwell around the idea of a personal butler; Danish company &Tradition’s UK debut, including a desk by Jaime Hayon drawing on both Memphis design and Alexander Calder’s kinetic sculptures; and Swedish lighting firm Wästberg, whose collection includes the Dalston light by Industrial Facility, which references lamps found in workshops and warehouses.
Another welcome addition to the line-up of Clerkenwell Design Week venues was Design Fields, a spacious venue which featured some exciting international and British brands, including Scandinavian lighting companies Örsjö and Zero; French brand Petite Friture, which gives a platform to up-and-coming designers; classic German brand Thonet, which launched an outdoors/indoors furniture collection; and Another Brand, a venture by designer Theo Williams, former creative director at Habitat and head of design at John Lewis Home, which links designers directly to manufacturers.
At nearby Clerkenwell Close, the ubiquitous Tom Dixon took over St James’s Church, displaying recent and new products in dramatic surroundings. Over at the showroom of materials maker Sto Werkstatt Sam Jacob created a ‘shed within a shed’ (above), exploring the interaction between the digital and physical worlds by scanning a garden shed, scaling up the resulting data, and 3D printing the result in Sto’s Verolith stone at the desired resolution to encase the original shed.
A major selling point for Clerkenwell Design Week has always been its compact layout, but the new format did not make it less walkable or enjoyable.