Clerkenwell Design Week highlights key showroom activities

As an international melting pot for creativity and design talent, Clerkenwell is home to some of the best design showrooms, representing leading brands from both the UK and around the world.

Showroom partners remain integral to Clerkenwell Design Week. The festival, now in its fifth edition (20 – 22 May 2014), once again partners with over 60 local showrooms across Clerkenwell, to promote their latest designs and creative projects. Participating showrooms range from high-end contract furniture, to lighting, kitchen, bathroom and material manufacturers.

Key Collaborations

The festival’s veteran Vitra will be hosting a range of engaging activities during Clerkenwell Design Week. Celebrating fifteen years of Ron Arad’s Tom Vac chair, Vitra has invited over 20 leading architects and designers – from AHMM and Coffey Architects, to El Ultimo Grito, Jump Studios, MCM, Morag Myerscough, Morey Smith and Woods Bagot – to re-style this iconic design. The completed pieces, one of which will be selected as the winner by Ron Arad, will be unveiled at Vitra’s showroom on 20 May.

Furthermore, to mark the festival’s fifth edition, Vitra will run a Find The Five competition where five Eames’ Wire outdoor chairs will be hidden around the key show venues. Visitors who can locate all five chairs will then enter a draw for the chance to take one home with them.

Offering a portfolio of contemporary Italian furniture brands, .IT_All About Design will unveil an exciting collaboration – entitled From Art to Design – between Edra and The Campana Brothers at Clerkenwell Design Week. On 20 May at Detail, the designers will open an exhibition of their masterpieces, as well as their latest designs for Edra. The exhibition, sponsored by Toscana Promozione, will explore how design and production process render both a piece of art and a successful, commercial product. The designers’ Boa sofa for Edra will also be showcased at the .IT_All About Design showroom during the festival.

In addition to this exclusive collaboration, .IT_All About Design will host a showroom presentation of leading Tuscan design brands on 21 May, supported by the Tuscan Agency for Industrial Promotion. Exhibiting brands include Edra, La Falegnami, Falegnameria 1949, IVV and Parchettificio Toscano to name a few. This will be followed by a furniture showcase, Into The Blue, on 22 May where .IT Art Director, Daniele Bedini will present key design pieces in cobalt blue.

Domus and Italian ceramic house Mutina will showcase a new range of tiles, entitled Mews, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby at this year’s festival. The Mews collection is inspired by the landscape, history and personality of London, and by the variety of textures characterising its infrastructures, such as bricks, wooden floors and irregular geometrical patterns. On 22 May, the designers will host an evening talk about their new collaboration with Domus at the showroom.

Reclaimed wood specialist, The Reclaimed Flooring Company, maintain its ethos of keeping wood just like wood, with raw character, personality and timeless beauty. At Clerkenwell Design Week, the company will collaborate with London-based design studio, Hendzel + Hunt on an exclusive installation which will be revealed at the festival. Hendzel + Hunt specialises in the manufacture and design of bespoke cabinets and furniture, using reclaimed and sustainable materials.

Specialising in superior quality and innovative woven vinyl flooring, Bolon will launch its new Silence collection at this year’s festival. Inspired by the forests, lakes and wide skies of the brand’s origin, Sweden, the Silence range features unique 3-D effects that reflect light, thus the flooring will appear differently depending on the direction from which the light falls.

To mark the launch at its newly refurnished showroom, Bolon has invited world-renowned choreographer Alexander Ekman for an artistic collaboration, supported by a playful film which will be unveiled at the festival. During Clerkenwell Design Week, workspace furniture manufacturer Gresham will run a series of events at its Clerkenwell showroom.

On 20 May, Greshham will host two RIBA approved CPD presentations, in association Clerkenwell Design Week with REHAU® and DuPont™ Corian®. The former will look at the solutions to minimise the negative effects of acoustics on external and internal building structures, while the latter will focus on raw materials and the manufacturing processes and application of the materials.

In addition, Gresham has partnered with Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK and London’s Technology and Engineering Design College, STEM Academy, to run a bedroom design competition. Make-A-Wish Foundation® UK is a not-for-profit organisation for children and young people with life-threatening conditions which may make it difficult for them to leave their beds. The aim of the design competition is to encourage students to think beyond the traditional specifications, whilst demonstrating how their designs can be adapted to different environments and needs. On 21 May, students will present their designs at the Gresham showroom, which will then be judged by a panel of leading architects, interior designers and industry specialists.

The last event at Gresham on 22 May will be a presentation by the London-based product design studio, Jones & Partners; an insight into the journey which a design studio has to undertake when designing a new product, from the initial idea to the final creation.

Product Launch Highlights

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Germany-based furniture manufacturer Kusch+Co will showcase its latest collections, alongside some of the company’s design classics from the last 75 years. Meanwhile, office furniture expert Sedus will open its Sedus Café, featuring furniture by Carl Hansen & Son, Swing Up – Sedus’ latest ergonomic seating design, and Ashton Bentley’s advanced, integrated solutions for presentations, video conferencing and telepresence.

Rejoining the festival this year is the high-end office and contract furniture manufacturer, Brunner. Designed by McDowell+Benedetti Architects, the three-storey showroom will house the brand’s latest ranges, from the Hoc Bar and A-Chair collections by Jehs+Laub, to the Fina Club range by Wolfgang C. R. Mezger. Also specialising in office furniture, UK manufacturer Hands will showcase its next generation table systems, Transcend and Prime, alongside its new executive workplace collection, Pure and storage range, Shadow.

Exclusive to Clerkenwell Design Week, flooring specialist Nora will create a pop-up space at The Zetter Townhouse to present its high-performance rubber floorings, while Dauphin will unveil its newly refurbished showroom and launch its new acoustic sofa Cocone. The Poltrona Frau Group will bring its recent Milan preview to the festival, showcasing the new collections from Alias, Cappellini, Cassina and Poltrona Frau.

Focusing on industry issues, UK commercial furniture manufacturer Connection will discuss the value of embracing BIM (Building Information Modelling) with interior designers, specifiers and furniture makers at the festival, following a recent announcement that by 2016, Level 2 BIM will be mandatory for government contracts. Meanwhile, as part of its ongoing research into the workplace, office furniture manufacturer Orangebox will present its latest white paper report, looking at shared, collaborative workspaces, as well as the new challenges of mobile hand held technology.

Fun Activities

Davison Highley, manufacturer of high-quality upholstered furniture in the UK, will celebrate the first birthday of its Brewhouse Yard showroom at Clerkenwell Design Week. A series of events will be held around the theme of brewing, and the company has also commissioned Bright Bricks, the UK’s only certified LEGO professional, to re-create some of its latest designs in LEGO bricks on 22 May.

Best known for its furniture designed and made in the UK for the hospitality and workplace sectors, Morgan will open its new showroom – designed by the company’s Design Director Katerina Zachariades – on Dallington Street during the festival. The new premises will host iPad drawing workshops throughout the three-day event.

The Gallery – offering designs from Silverline, Viasit, Ergo, Sixteen 3, and Spaceoasis – will present the Madrid-made, Soft Art collection by Natalia Palazon. Furthermore, The Gallery has invited John Robertson – a specialist in architectural CAD modelling, rapid prototyping and 3-D printing – to host a talk on 3-D printing. Throughout the festival, visitors to the showroom can submit their own furniture design to be in for a chance to win a 3-D printed model of their design.

Altro, specialising in flooring and wall cladding systems for construction and transport, will run chocolate making workshops during Clerkenwell Design Week, while Designworks Tiles, expert in porcelain, ceramic, mosaic and glass tiles, will offer an exciting programme of events at the festival – from a tile hand-painting workshop, to a mosaic catwalk show and talks from the leading colour and branding expert Karen Haller.

Having installed its unique hybrid grass system – Desso GrassMaster® – in the FIFA World Cup’s Sao Paulo stadium, Desso will celebrate this global event with a World Cup inspired theme, offering a range of activities to showroom visitors during the festival – from making South American inspired crafts, to competing in Desso’s LEGO challenge.

On 20 May, Desso has invited Brazilian designer, artist and up-cycler Paulo Goldstein to host a talk about his work, followed by a Q&A session with Katie Treggiden from Confessions of a Design Geek, the festival’s official blog partner.

On 21 May, Trevor Flynn from Drawing at Work will return with his hands-on design and drawing session; and on 22 May, Sally Davies from Global Colour Research will present the latest colour trends, followed by the return of Desso’s ever popular The Floor is Yours open mic event with a South American interlude, where architects and designers will take to the stage and perform to colleagues and peers over a beer or two.

At Clerkenwell Design Week, new showroom partner Sto Werkstatt will present a preview of Re.presence, an exhibition of five new multi-media installations that represent architectural forms and create unexpected sensory effects. Furthermore, on 22 May, the showroom will host a charrette – entitled Designs on the Green – on Clerkenwell Green. Participating architecture practices, including Pilbrow and Partners, UHA London, Madoc Architecture and Coffey Architects, will present their original ideas for the future of Clerkenwell Green – a neglected piece of London’s public realm – to a review panel chaired by Paul Finch of the World Architecture Festival.