For the sixth time, Clerkenwell Design Week takes over London with its eclectic selection of design and furniture, merging commercial drive with design festival flair.
More than 80 showrooms across the area have opened up their doors to showcase new and recent launches, while the festival’s own venues continue to combine impressive settings with contemporary brands’ work. The Design Factory returns to the historical Farmiloe Building, with a few new launches - most notably, David Rockwell’s perfectly formed collection for Stellar Works, previewed here in advance of a bigger launch later in the year - and many brands presenting their recent Salone del Mobile news to the London crowd. The other spaces in the area, like the Crypt of St James’ Church and the cavernous house of Detention, present small selections of works that range from young designers’ first creative experiments to more established British brands.
Icon’s House of Culture, located in the stunning Old Sessions house (rumoured to imminently be transformed into a private members’ club) provided a welcome addition to the district, offering a new format to the usual fair-like setups of Clerkenwell. Inside its imposing halls, Moroso and PP Møbler shared a space enriched with a botanical touch, while upstairs, Danish brand Gubi turned a whole room into an elegant Danish lounge. Fritz Hansen has a sneak peek of their ‘7 Cool Architects’ project here too, a literally-titled initiative which is giving new life to Arne Jacobsen’s 'Series 7 Chair', now in its 60th year of life. Snøhetta, Jean Nouvel and Neri & Hu feature amongst the ‘cool architects,’ each of whom was invited to re-invent the chair’s function while leaving its iconic seat intact.
As is now tradition, the city’s creatives take over Clerkenwell through site-specific installations too, aiming to link the area together whilst doubling up as open-air hubs of activity. Designer/maker Sebastian Cox and sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon were commissioned by AHEC to play with hardwood and explore its versatility. Their ‘Invisible Store of Happiness’ features American Cherry and Maple woods, steam-bent into twisted and curled strips which create a dramatic installation placed under the impressive St John's Arch. In nearby St John’s Square, Architects Cousins & Cousins present a multi-coloured pavilion in collaboration with Gx Glass. The jewel-like structure is an alternation of opaque and see-through panels of glass in a combination of pink and yellow tones.
Off-site highlights include British tiles company Bert & May’s new ‘Spaces’ venture which offers contemporary compact living solutions, inaugurated with a Barge designed in collaboration with stylist Laura Fulmine and RaT Architecture. Down the street, Vitra hosted a small retrospective of Jean Prouvé’s furniture as part of the Swiss company’s partnership with G-Star. The collaboration’s second installment is focused on office furniture, reviving ten pieces from the 1940s, ranging from seating to lighting and presented alongside the Prouvé Bistro, by far the area’s most covetable food pit-stop.