Clerkenwell Design Week 2016: Highlights from the Creative Quarter
Now in its seventh edition, Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) celebrates the distinctive and creative London quarter. Set across three days, CDW hosts the best in design from around the world and features a huge range of home-grown talent. This year did not disappoint with a refreshed layout and new destinations, including eight exhibition venues and over 85 showrooms showcasing the latest product launches. Now firmly on the international cultural map, here are some of our design and trend highlights from this year's event.
1. Personalisation & Professional Nesting
A change in attitudes towards the way we work is inspiring new furniture designs. As well as being visually appealing they also answer our need for privacy, quiet and personalisation. After listening to a trend insight talk about this very subject at DESSO, discussing the evolving workplace; it was great to see so many brands launching new office solutions during CDW. Connection launched a series of innovations focused on visual and acoustic privacy including Dixi; a stylish high back chair with a copper base providing a cosy and secluded area for the user. Their showroom redesign also took visitors on a sensory journey of the new workplace, featuring a table tennis table to encourage socialising with colleagues. When it comes to furniture layout users want greater flexibility and Komac of Boss Design Group have launched Myriad, a modular furniture system. Made up of eleven linkable seating units, three privacy screens, side tables and arms that accommodate power, you can create a comfortable meeting area or a private huddle space. For the three day event, Vitra welcomed us into the 'Colour Lounge' to celebrate colour and textiles, with different colour zones representing a variety of interior settings: read; meet; relax; welcome; refresh. The 'Meet' zone included the new Hack Workstation by Konstantin Grcic, an adaptable table system with an unfinished aesthetic that mirrors current design trends exploring an edited-down approach. The raw wooden panels can be folded up in just a few simple steps, offering a space-saving solution, ideal for the co-working environment.
From flooring to furniture, CDW saw the launch of innovative products that brought an added dimension to surfaces using the power of light. In collaboration with Desso, Philips Lighting presented Luminous Carpets, a patented flooring solution that combines robust LED lighting from Philips with light transmissive carpet specially developed by Desso. The design solution adds an exciting new dimension to flooring and can be used to update people with important and useful information, perfect for improving visitor experience in commercial spaces. Within Platform, the venue for up-and-coming designers, Aysha Shah Designs launched the Nature Table featuring a light source hidden beneath the surface. Using modern-day laser and LED technology the designer has highlighted the natural beauty of walnut timber with all its imperfections aglow. Finally Graypants caught our eye at the Icon's House of Culture (international exhibitors) with a refreshed version of the Scraplight series; produced using custom-made FSC-certified pure white corrugated cardboard and precision cut on advanced machinery. The crisp translucency of these forms celebrates the intriguing play between light and shadow, bringing a delicacy to the collection.
3. Mixed Materials
The trend for mix and match continues, with brands exploring the appealing contrast of materials through colour, texture and pattern. Jamie Hayon has added to his design portfolio for &Tradition creating the Palette Desk featuring two shapes made of different materials; powder coated steel, marble or brass, and stained ash veneer. The Spanish artist/designer was inspired by the kinetic sculptures of Alexander Calder and aimed to transform the ordinary static desk into a "multi-tiered sculpture that doubles as a desk." Also exploring disparity through material contrasts was Baker Street Boys who launched the Connect Serving boards that effortlessly slot elements of marble and oak together to form a whole; the deep grain of the wood and the elegant veins of the marble merge like pieces of a puzzle.
4. Colour: From Turquoise to Teal
With summer just around the corner our eyes were drawn to the use of bright accent colours. This year there was an abundance of accent colours within collections from sunshine yellows, coral pinks and those all important blue-green hues that are fresh, dynamic and remind us of the great outdoors. Another Brand presented the new Lago Mirror Tables, a set of three in a glass mirror finish; one table comes in a deep teal shade, complemented by clear and grey glass reminiscent of a deep lake and its variety of shades. Providing navigation between venues Giles Miller and British Ceramic Tile presented Billboards, a series of large-scale abstract signage sculptures that aimed to help visitors find their way around the festival. In particular the bright turquoise design was most striking, bringing vibrancy to the backstreets of London. Another up-and-coming brand that presented exciting designs was YenChen YaWen Design Studio, a duo who aims to create high quality artistic and design objects, through innovative combinations of raw materials and varying colour. Landscape of Oxidation is a research of copper patina and iron oxidation process, combined with Jesmonite to produce different objects. The collection features a variety of shades from turquoise to teal determined by the exposure of the surface to different levels of humidity and chemical substances. Our favourite product was the wand-like lighting unit highlighting the tonal textures.
Global stars of the design world are an excellent way to inject something new into a brand's portfolio. This year's CDW saw numerous collaborations with collections that tell a story through colour, texture and material choices. Tom Dixon was invited to design Ege's latest carpet range Industrial Landscape, inspired by London's gritty backdrops. There are seven designs in total, including Blur; inspired by the distorted city reflections in puddles and fresh rainfall. Another carpet brand making the most of fresh ideas is Interface, continuing on its Mission Zero journey through its Beautiful Thinking campaign; this focuses on individuals who have driven real innovation in their industries and beyond. Interface's latest global collection, World Woven by David Oakey of David Oakey Designs premiered at the festival. The collection celebrates the imperfect yet beautiful nature of traditional handcrafted materials, introducing biophilia-inspired design to floors. Home is where the heart is and through traditional patterns this new collection focuses on the importance of bringing comforting into other places too, an evolving design trend that's been shared across trend forecast blogs. Mutina, the tile manufacturers, is an artistic project that unites technology, craft, experimentation and research to push the boundaries of the material itself and create a high-quality product. At the heart of the company are renowned designers including Patricia Urquiola, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec; the festival saw the launch of the Bouroullec brothers' latest vision. Rombini is a "project of vibration," told in the designers' symbolic colours of grey, blue, green, red and white. The collection features three-dimensional tiles that play with light and shade as well as a tile made of many little embossed diamonds where colour is used to outline the white diamonds – a particular 'trend' favourite for us.
6. The Modern Maker
When it came to craftsmanship the festival this year truly celebrated the modern maker, with events all over highlighting their skills. To celebrate Desso's award winning 'Transitions' carpet collection the showroom invited designer Kyla McCallum of Foldability to create an art installation of her intricate paper pleating. The origami inspired large-scale pieces created a fantastic window display and once inside you could see an exhibition of work featured in the recent Hoxton Mini Press book the Makers of East London, featuring the talented Daniel Heath's handmade wallpaper collections. Within the aisles of Additions (the venue for interior products) we came across N & N Wares; textile surface designer Emma Jeffs creates distinctive fabrics and accessories that reveal layers of digital marks combined with sophisticated colours and handmade upholstery techniques; interestingly it is the digital processes that bring the organic qualities and the handmade processes that finish each piece with precision and accuracy.
This year's CDW was as inspiring as ever and offered a wealth of new design directions – we look forward to seeing the festival build on its success of visitor experience for its eighth edition in 2017.
Connection Dixi chair
'Billboards' Giles Miller and British Ceramic Tile
&Tradition Jamie Hayon Palette Desk