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Clerkenwell Design Week – A Visitors Review

Clerkenwell Design Week event held 21st-23rd May 2019

This year I ventured to the Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW19) event, a hub for creatives, architects and designers within Islington, London. Armed with a good pair of shoes and a map of the festival I was ready to experience the installations, talks and creative suppliers that bring an area into the spotlight on this already established London design hub.

What makes this festival a successful event each year? Well its a case of its ‘in the blood and bricks’ of the Clerkenwell area itself. With a history of attracting skilled craftspeople and artisans dating back from the Industrial Revolution. The current Clerkenwell district is now home to over 100 world-renowned design brands and their showrooms, sitting beside 200 architectural practices. The event itself attracted 34,185* visitors from over 66 countries and these tend to be architects or designers looking for inspiration and sourcing opportunities.

For me, it was a chance to look at the latest trends and products that would be featuring within future projects and designs along with great opportunities to be inspired and talk to suppliers themselves on what would be influencing their ranges over the coming months.

Curiousa & Curiousa’s designer Esther Patterson uses drawings & paintings of Derbyshire wildflowers and plants to great new lanterns

My first point of call was the Light exhibition. Located within the Fabric Nightclub in Charterhouse Street the interior transformed into a lighting haven with installations and new ranges from B Sweden, Haberdashery and Bert Frank. Whilst this site is normally an iconic London nightclub, by day this space took on a moody darkened (slightly post party scented) setting which provided space for lighting suppliers to use the dark backdrop to highlight their ranges. Upon entering the Light exhibition I was greeted with the new Curiousa & Curiousa range of painting inspired lanterns which really stole the show for me. Really far away from the hand-blown glass lights that are probably normally associated with the Curiousa & Curiousa range, this new range drew on Esther Patterson’s original drawings and paintings and I am sure will be an element in future designs looking for chinoiserie accents.

Further into the Light exhibition saw geometrics take central stage with an installation from Luum (above left) jewel like lamps from Calex Holland (above centre) and large accent lighting from the Mount Lighting stand (above right).

Next point of call was the British Collection focusing on some of the homegrown suppliers and talents. Sited at the Crypt on the Green in Clerkenwell Close some familiar names such as Ercol, Pluck, Newmor and Benchmark focused on their latest product ranges. My only criticism would be that it would have been nice to see some more of the smaller British artistsan crafts or associations within this section to accent how some British suppliers are using UK/British materials.

Partnering with the British Collection space was the Project exhibition which grouped together leading furniture and surfacing suppliers. This is probably one of my favourite parts of the show as the pavilion setting provides a festival feel whilst a quality range of suppliers provide a variety of furniture, flooring, surfacing and lighting elements. This is a section where I saw more on emerging and key trends for 2019/2020 with printed patterns, geometrics and contrasting colour palettes were a focus for many exhibitors.

Amtico (far left) built on the theme of mixing various coloured geometrics and how they can be used by designers to add interest to flooring spaces. Knightsbridge (centre left) used a mix of botanical patterns with bold plain fabrics. Burgess (centre right) was a first time exhibitor at the CDW19 event and used digital and pixel patterns partnered with bold colours for their furniture range. IVC (far right) showcased their carpet tile, LVT and sheet vinyl ranges for architects and designers looking at creating dramatic and sustainable flooring for contract and commercial projects.

This years Design Fields buzzed with talks from designers but I did feel that there were perhaps not as many international exhibitors as previous years although the stands were impressive and picked out the best in international suppliers to the contract and commercial sector.

The Detail exhibition space was located in The Order of St John and this little jewel of a space provided a great backdrop to the heavy interior focused exhibitor that made this location their own for the three days. WOW Glass (left) showed how mirrors are not just for walls but also as furniture finishes and surfacing. Keeping with texture the Kasthall stand (top right) gave sumptuous a new angle with textured rugs with various finished edges. I have to mention Anna Hayman Designs (bottom right) and whilst the image doesn’t do the range justice, the use of patterns and dark interiors themed fabrics really did sum up the bold print patterns that are clearly a favourite over many genres this year.

Away from the exhibition spaces were the many showrooms participating in the CDW19 event that really went to town with round table discussions and talks with designer. New to Clerkenwell and located in Clerkenwell Road was a first time look at the Ideal Standards new showroom. Arranged over three levels and yet to have its official opening (due later in June) the team showed just some of the ranges that interior designers and specifiers can experience. Morgan Furniture used the event to highlight their annual art installation and 2019/2020 collaboration with David Shillinglaw, titled ‘Alive in the Human Hive’ provided a key talking point and perfect partner with the Morgan furniture and lighting ranges at their showroom in Dallington Street.

Morgan Furniture Showroom – Dallington Street

Throughout Clerkenwell are installations aimed to inspired the visitor and provide ‘instagrammable’ moments for sharing. One that really struck a chord with me on focusing on sustainability, waste and the natural habitat was BottleHouse. From small.|Six Miles Across London Ltd and with support from designers WSP Design Studio they created a shelter from discarded bottles (see images below).

I did feel that the atmosphere of CDW19 was as bustling and design embracing as previous years and will be looking to add this to my calendar for 2020. Whilst many of the trends reinforced those predicted at the start of 2019 it was great to see how suppliers have used these in unique ways within their ranges.

*quoted from CDW19 post show press release All images my own and not to be used without permission

For next years details visit www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com