Clerkenwell Design Week 22 – 24 May 2012

By Katie Birks with contributions from Dieneke Ferguson

As it was my first visit to Clerkenwell Design Week for Hidden Art, I was new to everything and excited to get to grips with the latest designers and their products, in what is a small but talented pool of designers/makers.

Only in its third year, Clerkenwell brings together over 60 showrooms, a multitude of architects, creative agencies, events and workshops. It has become a highly trended design festival and is starting to compliment more International Design fairs. However, more importantly, it has become known as bringing together the design community. Originally structured within the Farmiloe building and an array of showrooms, the fair has now grown throughout Clerkenwell and is now based at three large, historic venues: The Farmiloe building, The House of Detention and new this year, The Order of St. John in addition to the various showrooms and workshops available. I am told it is the event not-to-be-missed; featuring inspiring talks, workshops, exhibits, performances and launches.

An overview of CDW at the Farmiloe Building

The Farmiloe Building was first to not disappoint and I immediately loved the clay Jaguar car being modelled in the centre of the building. So everything started well!

The clay modelled Jaguar car.

Above the clay Jaguar, the colour and structure of Beau McClellans’ system of hanging lights, reflecting throughout all three floors brought inspiring levels of innovative design working alongside practical high quality contemporary lighting.

Contemporary Lighting Installation by Beau McClellan

On my way out there was a beautiful array of Deadgood products, my favourite being the ‘Ribbon’ stool which in my eyes stood out amongst many other stools. The design highlights specialist British manufacturers and the brand focuses on giving excellent customer satisfaction, suiting individual requirements. ‘Ribbon’ is one of the new products launched at CDW by Nick Rawcliffe of Rawstudio.

Ribbon by Nick Rawcliffe of Rawstudio

I may not be a fan of confined spaces but I did enjoy the chair designed by Dare Studio that fits into them comfortably. Known as ‘The Spline Chair’, it reduces its use of floor space by re-arranging its legs in smaller spaces.

Dare Studios

Thorsten van Elten, Theo

 Another favourite in the Farmiloe building for me, was Theo (run by Thorsten van Elten) and specifically the ‘Word Map’ by McArthur & Hardcastle. Emmanuela Ferrero who worked at Hidden Art year’s ago was also spotted at the Farmiloe Building with Llustredesign.

Emmanuela Ferrero

I moved onto St. John’s Square, passing the Bolon and Missoni installation – enjoying their luxurious use of Italian fabric! I loved the live Makers in Residence working at the Craft Central window and naturally inside they had DesignK. It was great to finally see the Dandelion Stool and Butterfly in the flesh and life-size so to say, as I hadn’t been lucky enough yet. This Imperial typewriter also caught my eye. It’s the time of year to be loving all retro gear after all – with the Jubilee bringing back fifties, sixties and seventies styles!

Dandelion Stool by DesignK

Eccentric Typewriter at Craftcentral

Workstation had an exhibition which included a product from Slam also on our E-Shop . Here is a link to Workstations’ images from the week.

Exhibition outside of Workstation, including work by SLAM

For me, the installations placed between each of the main buildings I visited were some of the most intriguing elements in my day. This includes Ross Lovegrove‘s  ‘Solar Tree’ for Artemide– which appeared stunning in the beautiful weather we were having last week too – and just goes to show that we now really are moving forward within design and technology. Lovegrove has successfully combined our most wanted elements of advanced technology with beautiful structured lines and elegance within an urban environment able to develop its aesthetic qualities alongside nature. This street lighting design has also become an area of social engagement, enabling the public to sit, relax and socialise with nature amongst urban street life.

Solar Tree by Ross Lovegrove for Artemide

The Order of St. John

The Vessel Gallery really stood out for me in The Order of St. John, especially with the ‘Blooming Spark I’  hand sculpted design by Tsai & Yoshikawa. With its’ bright, unique style exploding from the centre of their stand it quite certainly stood out for me – an exquisite adornment.

Blooming Spark I by Tsai & Yoshikawa

Another stand-out sculpture was Draisci Studios ‘Spring Forest’, I had fun wandering in and out of the poles, through the dappled light and making new shapes out of the way the umbrellas were positioned together with my camera. The canopy, described as surreal, really was a new experience, heightening and highlighting our urban transformation. It was particularly interesting to see in relation to the natural and reflective location of St. James’ Church – it certainly became a period of tranquillity for me.

Spring Forest by Draisci Studio

Spring Forest by Draisci Studio in collaboration with Fulton Umbrellas

The House of Detention

 My last stop of the day was at The House of Detention, where I immediately enjoyed the high fidelity speaker system and docking station designed for laptops by La Boite Concept. It definitely brought me into the building with a smile on my face and I wish I could have taken it home!

High Fidelity Docking Station by La Boite Concept

Custhom lived up to their innovative ways and are continuing to challenge mass production methods with their hand screen prints, offset pattern cuts and litho printed ceramics. You can find Custhom and their hand finished products here on our E-Shop.

Nathan from Custhom with his designs

Not expecting to be as excited as I was about carpet fibre or the way it explores our sensory experiences, the process demonstrated by Eleanor Ross for Antron created a design allowing the audience to really understand and realise the intricacy and complexity of carpet fibre. Her textile piece demonstrates geometric forms and abstraction of colour and texture allowing the multi-layered installation to focus purely on the layering capabilities of Antron carpet following the theme of ‘carpet and space’. It was great to talk to Eleanor, and get her perspective of the project, as she is now receiving widespread acclamation for her signature style.

Textile piece by Eleanor Ross for Antron Carpet Fibre

Some of the last things I explored were the more illustrative areas including Cole & Son/Mr Perswall and Arthur Anults. Where with both designers I felt brought individuality, depth and a sense of purpose to their products. Alongside this the idea of making a bowl out of actual, real money, was something I’d never seen before – using 1000 five pound notes, each ripped to shreds to create a piece worth £5000 – I couldn’t work out whether it would matter if I broke it or not seeing as the money was already ripped…

The arches in House of Detention

Led Zeppelin by Arthur Analts

All in all, I feel this was an exciting place to get to the depths of London design talent, and I was impressed at feeling quite full of new information, eccentric designs and products after my short but sweet visit to Clerkenwell.

For further information about Clerkenwell Design Week, please click here.

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