Clerkenwell, London’s bustling design and crafts district, annually plays host as a world-class arena for design and architectural industries. Steeped in history, the area was once home to watch and jewellery makers, printers and artisans. Post-gentrification, Clerkenwell is known for having more architects and designers per square mile than any other place in the world. Design Week pays homage to the tradesman-ship of the area’s vibrant and industrial past and attracts British and global designers who bring the creative quarter to life, launching new collections and showcasing the very best in the future of design. Underpinning Clerkenwell Design Week, the area’s multitude of design-led showrooms is a vital part of this unique event, bolstered by individual stands, workshops and installations.
We launched our new global collection, World Woven, at the event and as official sponsors of the Museum of Making pavilion we were on the ground throughout to report our findings. In this article, we look back at notable trends from the week to bring you the highlights.
The most common theme throughout was unsurprisingly similar to that found at the Milan Furniture Fair – 70s inspired. Within this theme we found furniture with curves and shine, particularly gold and copper metallic finishes; with fabrics and textiles in classic and handcrafted weaves. The 70s vibe was touched with an air of wit; through scale, curves and colour. The palette was consistently muted minerals; smokey teal, copper, deep chartreuse or pastel turquoise, powder peach and soft lemon.
Unusual material and textural combinations were displayed by a multitude of studios, resulting in some refreshingly quirky products. Wood and grain played important roles, often being the main focus of the overall piece. Quixotic stood out for their raw, natural wooden table tops with copper glaze and Tacchini displayed a green felt-covered chair that evoked a laid-back and casual playfulness; an undercurrent of the festival.
Tom Dixon’s resplendent Materiality collection was an exploration of light, colour and texture. Copper, gold and bronze finishes were prominent and gave a nod to the colour trends that we noted earlier this year at Stockholm Design Fair. His contemporary chandeliers were perfectly juxtaposed to the stained glass and old architecture of St James’ church, which was converted into a multi-discipline workspace – undoubtedly a highlight.
In the absence of a specific colour direction throughout the event, bright and bold palettes were used by many. Vitra adopted this theme with open arms, with zingy yellow tones and fiery reds the main focus in each display. Poppy brights are right on trend and slowly emerging throughout 2016.
Dotted around the Clerkenwell show trail were active installations showcasing the creative genius of British design. We were impressed by the memorable hot pink ‘Billboard' next to the Platform exhibition by Giles Miller Studio, who individually created four incredible displays of hand-crafted glass tiles to provide show-to-show navigation for the madding crowds. Our favourites? The Museum of Making pavilion outside Detail, designed by White Arkitekter in the form of a deconstructed barn (home to the sofa deconstruction event and talks by leaders in sustainability, including communications agency Thomas Matthews, Bureo’s David Stover and Interface’s very own Ramon Arratia); the Hakfolly temple of timber by Hakwood at St John’s Gate and the Future of Design pavilion, created by GCSE students.
Nature was a recurring theme with biophilic and biomimic influences in colour, shape and texture throughout the event.
The ‘new office’ concept introduced at Clerkenwell was the furniture-less office. A multi-level construction for sitting, lounging and meeting within one unit. Described as the ‘Googlefied’ workspace, it is an alternative solution to the traditional desk and chair. The mobility of technology enables us to break free from existing furniture categories, shaping a need to create a non-traditional work environment, for a more social and collaborative dynamic.
Clerkenwell springs to life during design week. It’s sensory delight for designers, purveyors and perusing guests alike and this year was bigger than ever. Take a look at our Pinterest board for our visual highlights from throughout the event.