A review by
Josie Mills and Dieneke Ferguson
This year was the 7th year of the Clerkenwell Design Week and the first year without the traditional venue, the Farmiloe warehouse building which is now in the process of being developed. This has meant a complete restructuring of the Festival with new venues added to the existing ones, such as the nightclub Fabric, Spa Fields and St James’s Church and park. This was undertaken by the architectural practice OMMX who, in close collaboration with Clerkenwell Design Week, came up with a new masterplan and a marked route between the eight exhibition spaces.
The Core Programme of the Clerkenwell Design Week spanned from Smithfield Market to Exmouth Market was clearly signposted through specially commissioned signage, pavilions and installations to help navigation between venues.
The centre pieces of the signage were four glass-tile sculptures by London-based designer Giles Miller which helped visitors navigate the venues. The Billboards were located in key positions around Clerkenwell including; Kingsway Place, Clerkenwell Road and Clerkenwell Close and were lit up in the evening. The Billboards were comprised with over 8,000 hand-crafted glass tiles, in collaboration with British Ceramic Tile.
Each Billboard was designed in a ‘swooshing’ motion which enabled visitors to follow the design to the next exhibition.
It was great to see the scale and progression of Giles Miller’s work since the work that he exhibited with Hidden Art, such as the Hirsuito Vase during the Hidden Art Passion into Products exhibition at the London Design Festival in 2009.
Will Knight, the Show Director of Clerkenwell Design Week gave us an introductory tour of the new route between the eight exhibition venues (including the four new ones) which ended at the new venue Design Fields at Spa Fields near Exmouth Market.
HakFolly at St John’s Gate
FleaFolly Architects in collaboration with Dutch wood flooring manufacturer Hakwood designed and created ‘HakFolly’, a 4.5 high temple of timber located within the historic St John’s Gate.
The Museum of Making
The Museum of Making on St John’s Square was designed by Swedish architectural practice White Arkitekter in collaboration with design curator Pete Collard. The Museum was in the form of a barn pavilion with vitrines that showed items from the Museum of London collections that related to the rich heritage of making and crafts. Alongside this was the work of contemporary makers based in Clerkenwell.
The museum hosted daily workshops held by amongst others the Goldsmith’s Centre, Craft Central and the sofa ‘tear down’ project by Urban Upholstery, the making of the survivor sofa. The armchair was stripped in the morning, and reupholstered in the afternoon reusing some of the spring and materials. Ella Doran and other participants of the sofa survivor project gave further details.
DETAIL at the Order of St. John
As in previous years Detail, which featured luxury and bespoke brands, exhibited again in the Tudor Priory Church of the Order of St John, which has a twelfth century crypt. The Church Cloister Gardens with its range of herbs was used again for outdoor furniture and the champagne bar.
St. James’s Church and the garden
St. James’s Church and the garden were the the venue for Additions and the new shows Project and British Collection.
Tom Dixon in St James’s Church
This was the first year that the actual church itself was used for an exhibition. In St James’ Church, Tom Dixon exhibited various pieces from his materiality collection, including his Geometric Curve Light, a new product which was launched in Milan earlier in April. It is a ‘curved geometrical light that pushes the boundaries of thin sheet etched metal fabrication’ with a ‘nickel silver coating’. Tom Dixon’s Lights were placed inside the main congregation area of the 17th century church and were beautifully arranged in a grouping to form a chandelier. The lights stood out even more by contrasting with the brightly coloured stained glass window. The window dates from 1863 and was installed by Alexander Gibbs & Co.
In collaboration with the Church’s vicar Andrew Baughan the whole building was converted into a co-working space with Tom Dixon’s chairs and tables. Tom Dixon also donated the kitchen that was installed during the Clerkenwell Design Week which will offer the residential community a useful resource after the exhibition.
Loll Designs with cushions by Ella Doran in St James’s Church Garden
In the gardens of St James’s Loll Designs showed Lollygagger Living, outdoor furniture made from 100% recycled material made from discarded milk jugs. They were shown with Ella Doran’s Sunlight through Leaves Cushions.
ADDITIONS in St James’s Church Garden
As in previous years Additions was dedicated to small design pieces and interior accessories. But contrary to previous years the show took place in the St James’s Church Garden.
Freelance architect Amalia Sanchez (Linescapes) launched her new selection of prints, cards, notebooks and homeware with architectural drawings. You can also see her work on the Hidden Art E-Shop here
Architect Andrew Piggott launched his new Percolighter. The lights are made from Italian-made percolators and come with a choice of coloured fabric cables.
Jonathan Field exhibited the Jeremy Table made in solid English salvaged yew with inset transparent polished blue resin. Jonathan has also in the past exhibited with Hidden Art.
PLATFORM at the House of Detention
The Lithuanian company Ergolain which specialists in the production of ergonomic tailor-made furniture launched TableAir. A Smart button allows you to adjust the table height just with your hand motion. The Smart button also controls the LED lights.
Levello exhibited their new invisible lighting design to beautiful effect by lighting the crypt walls with a rainbow of colours. The invisible lighting is innovative in using a magnetic fixing system to hide the lights in the ceiling.
DESIGN FIELDS in Spa Fields
Located in Spa Fields by Exmouth Market Design Fields was a large-scale curated exhibition of contemporary design. It was housed in a specially constructed two-floor pavilion.
It included Dedon which showed its outdoor furniture to a backdrop of tropical plants, mirroring their Milan exhibion in the Isalone inspired by the tropics in anticipation of the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brasil.
Clerkenwell London on Farringdon Road presented Design Undefined – a selection of projects that included the 3-D printed wheel chair created by industrial designer Benjamin Hubert and Max Fraser’s show One Thing.
Max Fraser’s Show One Thing consisted of 26 objectsi. 26 designers had named one object that meant the most to them which were all shown.
Moroso in its Showroom launched the Gemma Seating by Daniel Libeskind earlier previewed in Milan this year.
Mark Product a design-led British Furniture manufacturer based in Cornwall. John Miller from Mark Product showed products designed by him and others at their London Showroom on Clerkenwell Road
SEMINAR PROGRAMME – AIRBNB
The seminar programme during Clerkenwell Design Week included a talk about Innovative Office Design: How to create a brand environment which reflects the local identity. This was appropriately held at Airbnb’s London office moderated by Johnny Tucker, Editor of Blueprint, together with Aaron Taylor Harvey of the Airbnb Environments Team, and Jack Hosea and Matt Driscoll of ThreeFold Architects.
This was an opportunity to experience Airbnb’s new London office which was collaboratively designed by Airbnb’s in-house Environments and Threefold Architects, Airbnb strives to capture its ‘Belong Anywhere’ ethos and its philosophy of space as a manifestation of culture within its office design by merging local talent with nods to Airbnb’s global community.
The design of the Airbnb London office was based on three British historic settlements – the farm, the green, the market, the library and the terrace. Distinct areas include the social hub of the office, an open space inspired by a Farmhouse kitchen and a flexible central Village Green which acts as an informal working hub but can also be used as a presentation area.
Furniture was commissioned from local designers including Unto this Last, who in the past has also exhibited with Hidden Art.
Unfortunately we never made it to the Icon House of Culture near Smithfield Market, one of the other new venues. All in all we very much enjoyed Clerkenwell Design Week this year and are looking forward to the next year!