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Clerkenwell Design Week preview

Posted on May 18, 2016 by Fresh Workspace

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INTERFACE-SUB-2Clerkenwell Design Week is both a very British and a truly International sort of event. It is subject to the vagaries of early British Summer in a way that Milan Design Week isn’t. Yet at the same time it is able to take advantage of the decision of the UK’s office design and contracts sector to locate itself within a heartland so dense with showrooms that even if it is raining, the chances are you can duck into pretty much any doorway and find a willing host from the industry able to show you something interesting and offer you a drink. Perhaps this hothousing of ideas, hospitality and like-minded folks is what attracts tens of thousands and people from all over the world each year to traipse the pavements of Clerkenwell.

This year’s event, which takes place next week, is a touchstone for what is happening in the worlds of hotel and contract design and it is always useful to see beyond the trees to discern the wood. For Clerkenwell Design Week this means discerning the trends that inform the design of new products and the stories people share.



Of course, increasingly there is a great deal of intersection between the worlds of office design, hotel and domestic design. Nowhere is this more evident than with the involvement of Vitra, which most readily traverses these worlds. This year, Vitra will be building on past associations with colour experts such as Hella Jongerius to create a ‘Colour Lounge’ that will focus on finishes and material to create zones in which people can ‘meet, read, relax, refresh and connect’.

The products on display will mirror these ideas so visitors will be invited to relax in the new Soft Modular Sofa by Jasper Morrison in the green zone or the Polder Sofa by Hella Jongerius in the yellow zone, connect at the new Hack Workstation by Konstantin Grcic in the light zone, or read on the classic Living Tower by Verner Panton in the red zone. Vitra is also hosting a seminar programme which includes a look at the forthcoming move of the Design Museum to its new home at The Commonwealth Institute in Kensington.


Poltrona Frau



Another International brand name that inevitably draws a crowd to its showroom is Poltrona Frau, perhaps because its designs say so much about the nature of contemporary intersectional design. One of the firm’s recently acquired subsidiaries, Cappellini, is perhaps more closely associated with the contract market and has a long history of design excellence with products  on display in museums throughout the world.  Its Sistemi division produces office and domestic modular furniture which will be prominent in the displays at Clerkenwell.



A manufacture that is both younger and more closer to home and yet no less influential is Orangebox who are using their new showroom to create a ‘living lab’ to demonstrate the firm’s proprietary Smartworking philosophy. The idea mirrors the design principle behind many modern offices to create different kinds of space for different types of work and to match the needs and characters of different people.

A slightly different yet similarly intellectual approach will be taken by carpet maker Milliken who will be linking their product offering, including new launch Artistic Liberties with the area’s traditions of craft and design. Musician and artist Pam Hogg will talk about her work and inspiration in the Milliken showroom. There will be street art events and talks from Jimmy C and Ben Eine, Artista, Anatomica and Dan Kitchener painting live.



A new initiative developed to tackle the issue of access into the design, interiors and construction sectors for young people ‘DesigningFutures@CDW’ will be launched at the Milliken showroom. Set up by Jade-Ilke Creative Solutions and supported by Sketch Studios and Milliken the project will include work experience and skills training for young people placed in participating showrooms.



Another carpet manufacturer, Interface, will be taking a different tack. For some time now, Interface has been focussed on environmental issues and this year’s event will see the launch of its latest campaign, Negative to Positive, which ‘showcases how Interface’s journey to-date has netted real results, and how beautiful thinking is dramatically changing the built environment’. The festival will also see the premiere of Interface’s latest collection, World Woven by David Oakey of David Oakey Designs.

Herman Miller is a true giant on the world stage, both as a business and its terms of its influence on the way we design workplaces. This year, the firm has a pop up space in the heart of Clerkenwell (its main showroom is in another part of London) to launch a new seating range which is currently under wraps but which will no doubt be one of the main talking points of the show.



A younger company that is also in the business of reshaping the world is BuzziSpace. founded in Antwerp in 2007 but which helped to transform the market for acoustic design elements before widening its scope to cover other workplace design trends. Appropriately for an outdoor, social event like Clerkenwell Design Week, BuzziSpace will be focussing on its ‘Outdoor & Fun’ collection which the firm claims is the first outdoor workspace and incorporates BuzziBreeze, a multifunctional picnic table to work, meet, lunch and enjoy drinks with colleagues and BuzziShed.



Bisley, one of the world’s most successful office furniture companies will be marking it surprisingly first involvement at Clerkenwell Design Week with a collaboration alongside Acrylicize, a multidisciplinary creative agency. The idea is to produce a piece of public art that will present Bisley in an ‘unexpected form’ which will then be displayed in St Johns Square during Clerkenwell Design Week.

As well as the showrooms and the showcases of new talent, the show is also hosting a series of events including a tribute to the late architect and designer Zaha Hadid called The Seamless Collection, which draws upon geometrics and ergonomic research with contrasting colours and materials in a way that is synonymous with the architect.



Elsewhere, Conversations at Clerkenwell, will introduce and discuss new products, raise industry issues and network with fellow A&D professionals. This year the programme will be hosted at CDW’s new Live events hub, The Goldsmiths’ Centre and will feature a host of high-calibre speakers exploring current industry topics, including a series of salons curated by Dutch designer Ineke Hans that  will make this central Clerkenwell venue the social and cerebral hub for CDW.