In the second half of May, over a month after UK design devotees have returned and recovered from Salone del Mobile, London’s Clerkenwell Design Week offers a welcome refresher.
Now in its eighth year, the three-day festival caters to the city’s architects and designers, who flock to the area’s 90-odd furniture showrooms, as well as the pop-up exhibitions, talks and seminars that are held during the week. The show’s mercifully small footprint not only makes the event easily walkable, but also ensures that a festival-like atmosphere can be felt throughout – something that is often remiss during larger city-wide design events.
The week’s design route, clearly marked by pavement signage in the event’s trademark pink, was peppered with the usual array of site-specific installations. This year, seven landmark structures were assembled within Clerkenwell’s winding streets, serving as meeting points for interaction.
Once again, exhibitions were located in some of the area’s most intriguing architectural spaces – one prison, two churches, one nightclub, two parks and two crypts, to be precise. Icon’s House of Culture returned to nightclub Fabric, while Design Fields popped up on again on the green Spa Fields. The work of British makers was assembled under the barrel-roofed crypt of St James’s Church, and former prison, House of Detention, provided an atmospheric backdrop for a showcase of emerging talents at Platform.
While many participating showrooms simply showcased pieces launched in Milan, others strove to create more immersive experiences this year. Fashion illustration workshops were held at Milliken, terrarium making at Interface, live spinning demos at Camira, while printmaker Alex Booker held a series of packed-out woodblock printing workshops in design emporium Clerkenwell London.