Experimental outreach: all the highlights from Clerkenwell Design Week 2016

Clerkenwell Design Week
Set over three days, this year's Clerkenwell Design Week marks the seventh edition of the ever-growing event, hosting talks, new releases, installations and workshops. Pictured: design emporium Clerkenwell London's forest-like basement, where Tree Couture displayed their exquisite handmade oak pieces.
(Image credit: Dan Weill)

Every year, London’s design pilgrims flock to Clerkenwell for the area's annual Design Week. Set over three days, this year marks the seventh edition of the ever-growing event, that took on a broader area of the East-Central London location, hosting talks, new releases, installations and workshops.

Big changes were brought to the usual festival format this year due to the Farmiloe building no longer hosting the central contemporary design hub that is Design Fields. The move sent it to a pop-up location, set on the green Spa Fields; and while some may argue that isn't Clerkenwell proper, we appreciated the green repose in the sunshine, witnessing designs arriving fresh from Salone del Mobile by the likes of Petite Friture, Dedon and H Furniture, as well as noteworthy new releases from +Halle and Another Brand.

Icon's House of Culture returned for a second year, and though hopes were high for the re-location to nightclub Fabric, it didn't have the show stopping quality of the Old Sessions house from last year. The range of brands on view, however, made it worth the trip, with Expormim, & Tradition and Stellar Works displaying their eloquent new pieces.

Tom Dixon put on a ceremonial show of his Milan releases. Settling inside the Grade I listed St James Church, just off Clerkenwell Green, the 17th century space was a grand backdrop for the glistening wares. Taking centre stage in the nave was an enchanting chandelier made out of the brand's 'Curve Pendants', set to stay as a permanent design fixture.

A wealth of new spaces showed for the first time, including newcomer BD Barcelona, who opened its  inaugural London space to coincide with the release of a Salvador Dalí-inspired chair. Meanwhile, design emporium Clerkenwell London played host to 'Go' – a new 3D printed wheelchair by Benjamin Hubert, alongside a crafted exhibition titled ‘Design Undefined’ that included a plethora of experimental works such as geometric cakes by Kia Utzon-Frank, a materials installation by Matter and handmade oak pieces by Tree Couture in the forest escape basement space.

As always, site-specific installations took up the outdoor spaces. A transfixing tiled installation, 'Billboards' by Giles Miller and British Ceramics Tile, guided guests along the exhibition route, and a flowing plywood pavilion by GCSE students titled 'Future of Design' in the garden of St John's Square marked the show's first educational project.

The glass showroom

Featured within the glass showroom were KUFCakes, ornamental cake sculptures by all round-creative Kia Utzon-Frank.

(Image credit: Dan Weill)

Chairs and bookshelf

Stockholm-based brand Massproductions presented the latest colourways of their 'Tio' chairs and the 'Endless' bookshelf in a deep-and-dark set up at Design Fields

(Image credit: press)

A new chair

BD Barcelona has found a first London home off Berry Street, and the opening coincides with the release of a new chair by founder Oscar Tusquets Blanca, inspired by Salvador Dalí's painting Singularities

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Italian design

Italian design stalwarts Knoll threw open the doors on their opulent Salone del Mobile releases

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Design Fields

Dedon offered up their newest releases in a jungle-themed outdoor set at Design Fields

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The new pink colourways

Putting on a playful show at Design Fields was Swedish practice +Halle who celebrated the new pink colourways of their various chair frames

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Blue stained wooden mirror

Another Brand released an array of new products at Design Fields, including this 'Orlo' petrol blue stained wooden mirror

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Small-square tiles

Spotted around the streets were imaginative tile installations by Giles Miller Studio. Made using British Ceramic Tiles, and titled 'Billboards', they produced subtle transfixing waves with identical small-square tiles.

(Image credit: Richard Chivers)

The abstract pieces

The abstract pieces were realised in different hues and dotted around Clerkenwell to direct people along the correct exhibition route.

(Image credit: Richard Chivers)

The showroom

Following the opening of their Clerkenwell showroom last year, Danish design stalwarts Carl Hansen and Søn reimagined the space following their Milan releases. The showroom also featured weaving sessions by their skilled craftsmen

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The geometric Gemma sofa

Alongside a flurry of Salone releases, Moroso celebrated the official release of the geometric 'Gemma' sofa range by Daniel Libeskind.

(Image credit: Joshua Tucker)

Pyramid structure

Located under St John's Gate is a high temple of Hakwood timber, realised by FleaFollyArchitects. The colossal piece is made entirely of stacked layers of wood to form an abstract pyramid structure

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London based studio

On view at Additions were these fruit bowls in Carrara, Nero Marquinia and grey Nuvolato Apuano by London based studio Hayden Martis, available from Staffan Tollgard

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A large shed covering a wooden

Sto Werkstatt collaborated with Sam Jacob Studio on a showroom installation exploring the possibilities of digital fabrication using a garden shed. Titled 'One Thing After Another', the structure mimics a Russian doll with a large shed covering a wooden, ebay-bought smaller one inside.

(Image credit: David Parry)


Craft Central celebrated works by Forest + Found, offering up on-site woodworking, natural dying and quilting

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A new collection

Carpet brand ege released a new collection by Tom Dixon titled 'Industrial Landscape'. The patterned range features brickwork, railway lines, tunnels, workshops and warehouses in an intense dark palette

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The enchanting space

Tom Dixon chose a 17th century church to display his Milan launches, dotting them around the enchanting space

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Curve Pendants

Taking centre stage in the nave, the studio created a mammoth chandelier out of its 'Curve Pendants', that is set to stay as a permanent design fixture.

(Image credit: Sophie Mutevelian)

Future of Design

GCSE students designed and built the 'Future of Design' pavilion, marking the show's first educational project. Located in the garden of St John's Square, the curve of plywood meanders round the greenery and acts as seating

(Image credit: press)

The House of Detention

Showing at 'Platform', located within the House of Detention, was Yenchenyawen design studio's 'Landscape of Oxidation', exploring the different results of copper patination and iron oxidation of jesmonite, inspired by the Japanese pottery restoration technique of 'kintsugi

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Seating designers

Seating designers HÅG have teamed up with design studio Hassell to realise 'Sensorium', an immersive urban pleasure garden that works as an interactive take on how we experience the outdoors, within the confines of the HÅG showroom

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A natural world

Inside, the blackout space contained myriad peepholes into a natural world

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The Museum of Making

Located on St John's Square, 'The Museum of Making' pavilion has been imagined by Swedish practice White Arkitekter and brings vibrancy to the streets with a deconstructed barn-like structure.

(Image credit: Jo Underhill)

House of Culture

Over at Icon's House of Culture, Bert Frank released new lighting fixtures in classic copper finishes

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Danish brand & Tradition's show

Danish brand & Tradition's show was set against the rough brick walls of House of Culture's raw Fabric nightclub environs

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A new 3D printed wheelchair

Clerkenwell London also played host to the launch of 'Go' – a new 3D printed wheelchair by Benjamin Hubert's design agency Layer

(Image credit: press)


For more information, visit the Clerkenwell Design Week website

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.