Clerkenwell Design Week opens celebrating design and creativity

Clerkenwell Design Week’s Show Director William Knight has officially opened the festival today. This three-day event (until 22 May 2014) is firmly established as a leading event in the international design calendar, showcasing the latest innovations by some of the best creative forces from the UK and around the world. Set against the historic backdrop of Clerkenwell, the festival – now in its fifth edition – is centred upon showrooms in the neighbourhood, as well as four focused exhibitions – Design Factory, Platform, Detail and Additions.

The festival also offers an array of newly commissioned projects, street spectacles and pop-up workshops, as part of its CDW Presents and Fringe series. These special features – exclusive to the festival – are stationed prominently around Clerkenwell, and are created by a range of established and emerging names from both the design and architecture worlds.

Integral to Clerkenwell Design Week, this year’s Conversations at Clerkenwell talks programme is set to be the best yet, with an international line-up of high profile speakers taking part in an exhilarating series of seminars; from Ron Arad and Arik Levy, to The Campana Brothers, Sir Peter Cook, Sir Kenneth Grange, Patricia Urquiola, Rolf Fehlbaum of Vitra, Russ Hamilton of Farrells and Ben van Berkel of UNStudio.

William Knight, Show Director, comments:

“Clerkenwell Design Week is always known for its energy and community spirit, where designers, architects and creative minds alike from all over the world come together to celebrate innovative design and endless creativity.

“Historically, Clerkenwell has been a place for making, connected to various industries through the years – everything from bookbinding to silversmithing and watchmaking. And we believe our festival truly respects the heritage of this neighbourhood, while continuing its long-standing legacy. We aim to promote both UK and international businesses to the A&D community, and showcase the quality of Clerkenwell as an international design district.

“We are very excited about our fifth edition, not least our new show Additions. There is an increased number of showroom partners and exhibitors, a range of thought-provoking installations and activities to get the visitors involved, as well as our star-studded talks programme. It’s great to be in Clerkenwell at this time of the year, to really feel the buzz and get a visceral sense of design happening.”


As a global 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. Showrooms remain integral to Clerkenwell Design Week, and this year’s festival has partnered with over 60 local showrooms – including high-end contract furniture, lighting, kitchen, bathroom and material manufacturers – to promote their latest design projects.

Furniture manufacturer Arper celebrates its 25th anniversary, with an exclusive Alessi café (21 May) and a talk (22 May) on ‘How do we make London the best city in the world?’ – hosted by Dezeen editor Marcus Fairs, with speakers including Sol Campbell, Edwin Heathcote and Vicky Richardson.

US office furniture specialist Knoll presents highlights of its new collections, including the next Relax edition of the Barcelona chair and the Florence Knoll lounge collection, alongside the release of Tobia Scarpa’s Bastiano sofa and the highly anticipated Saarinen outdoor tables.

Marking 15 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 are on display at Vitra’s showroom during the festival.

Mews, a new range of tiles designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for Domus and Italian ceramic house Mutina, previews in the UK for the first time. The collection is inspired by the landscape and history of London, and by the variety of textures characterising its infrastructures, such as bricks, wooden floors and irregular geometrical patterns. On 22 May, Barber and Osgerby will host an evening talk about this new collaboration at Domus’ showroom.

Specialising in superior quality and innovative woven vinyl flooring, Bolon launches its new Silence collection at Clerkenwell Design Week. Inspired by the natural environment of the brand’s origin, Sweden, the Silence range features unique 3-D effects that reflect light. 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 unveiled at the festival.

Luxury kitchen manufacturer balthaup is to host a series of showroom events, from a Miele calorie neutral pop-up steam restaurant, to a kitchen lighting masterclass run by Sally Storey, Design Director at John Cullen Lighting.

Meanwhile, bathroom manufacturer Kohler previews its new range including the Moxie wireless shower and speaker, Pleo toilet and Artifacts taps, in addition to the beautiful Kallista.

Davison Highley, British manufacturer of high-quality upholstered furniture, celebrates the first birthday of its Brewhouse Yard showroom at Clerkenwell Design Week.

A series of events are 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.

Having installed its unique hybrid grass system – Desso GrassMaster® – in the FIFA World Cup’s Sao Paulo stadium, Desso celebrates this global event with a World Cup inspired theme. On 20 May, Desso has invited Brazilian designer and artist Paulo Goldstein to host a talk about his work; on 21 May, Trevor Flynn from Drawing at Work will return with his design and drawing session; and on 22 May, Sally Davies from Global Colour Research will present the latest colour trends at Desso’s showroom.

At Clerkenwell Design Week, new showroom partner Sto Werkstatt presents a preview of Re.presence, an exhibition of five multi-media installations that represent architectural forms and create unexpected sensory effects. Furthermore, on 22 May, the showroom will host a charrette on Clerkenwell Green. Participating architecture practices, including Pilbrow and Partners, UHA London, Madoc Architecture and Coffey Architects, will present their 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.


Design Factory, based at The Farmiloe Building, plays host to an array of leading contemporary furniture, lighting and product design brands, from the UK (Benchmark, Pinch, Decode and Dyke & Dean) and beyond (Magis, Vitamin Design, +Halle, Zeitraum and Stellar Works).

In collaboration with the festival’s headline sponsor Jaguar UK, Italian lighting specialist Foscarini presents a show-stopping installation – as part of CDW Presents – based on the leading theme, Fearless Design. Featuring the new Jaguar F-TYPE Coupé sports car and Foscarini’s new totemic LED lamp, Tuareg, the illuminated sculpture is on display in the atrium of the Design Factory, alongside a production version of the new Jaguar F-TYPE R Coupé.

Newcomer to the design scene, as well as to the festival, Discipline launches its brand new Last Side tables by Max Lamb to the UK market at the event, while Case Furniture introduces the re-issue of the classic 675 chair originally designed by Robin Day in 1952.

British furniture manufacturer Another Country hosts a UK preview of a new industrial lighting collection by New York-based company Workstead, while SCP Contracts launches the latest contemporary designs by another New York-based lighting specialists, Roll & Hill.

Also as part of CDW Presents, Johnson Tiles has teamed up with colour expert Ptolemy Mann to create a three-wall mural for the launch of its Prismatics wall tile collection. The mural shows a variety of shades from the new collection, which for the first time features hexagon shapes designed to work in harmony with its standard tiles.

This year, Design Factory sees the return of some of the industry’s best lighting names taking over the top floor of The Farmiloe Building – from Anglepoise’s new collaborations with Sir Kenneth Grange and Paul Smith, to Arik Levy’s Wireflow lights for Vibia and Artemide’s Empatia light which combines the traditional craft of hand-blown glass with modern LED technology. Other key lighting exhibitors include the likes of Prandina, Catellani and Smith, Studio Italia Design and ModoLuce.

Over the three days of the festival, selected retail pop-up stalls also offer an array of their latest design products for visitors to purchase at the Design Factory. Participating brands include Dezeen Watch Store, Leica, Theo, Boskke, the TFL shop and Dyke & Dean.


With its unique, architectural setting at The House of Detention, Platform– sponsored by W London – provides the perfect backdrop for emerging designers from around the world to exhibit their new collections.

Estonian-born Johanna Tammsalu takes lighting to another level with her hand-spun, ceramic pendant lights while printmaker Lucy Clive of Clivework launches her first British-made furnishing fabric collection.

Canadian designer Loïc Bard debuts at Clerkenwell Design Week, with his new coffee tables, Tokyo and Small Tokyo, while Judy Clark of CVA Editions takes on a colourful approach, with her new Bean tables in bright block colours. Aleksandrina Rizova, known for her work using emerging digital fabrication tools, showcases her hybrid table and floor tiles at Platform.


Celebrating fine quality and exquisite craftsmanship in the luxury sector, Detail at the Order of St John brings together the most prestigious names in high-end interior design.

Offering a portfolio of contemporary Italian furniture brands, .IT_All About Design unveils an exciting collaboration – entitled From Art to Design – between Edra and The Campana Brothers. This includes an exhibition of the designers’ masterpieces, as well as their latest designs for Edra at Detail. The exhibition explores how the design and production process render both a piece of art and a successful, commercial product.

Also top of the list this year is the pop-up showroom of Christopher Jenner for Drummonds inside Craft Central (as part of Detail). This creative collaboration between Jenner and Drummonds results in a bathroom furniture collection launching at Clerkenwell Design Week. Inspired by craft processes and handmade in the UK, the collection marries traditional cast iron and enamelling techniques with English carpentry.

Making the most of the British weather, Gloster furnishes the entire Cloister garden with its high-end, contemporary style outdoor furniture, while Ochre launches its first dining and desk chairs, Sable and Caribou at the event. Other key exhibitors at Detail include Thonet, Fameed Khalique, Tracy Kendall, Georg Oehler, Ginger and Jagger and Sé.


New to Clerkenwell Design Week 2014, Additions – sponsored by Spanish online design store Triitme! – takes over the Crypt on the Green at St James Church; the main hub for a curated collection of small design items and home accessories, targeting retail buyers, interior designers and specifiers.

The newly launched Toghal incorporates heritage African designs into contemporary homewares, with a strong focus on textiles. Similarly, Urbanara offers high-quality home textiles and accessories, using the finest natural materials and a pared-back colour palette.

Specialising in architectural sculptures but with a touch of playfulness, Chisel and Mouse showcases its new models at the show citing London as a key inspiration. Meanwhile, Tunisian-born Hend Krichen brings her beautifully handcrafted vessels to the show, all of which are made using the rich artisanal skills and craftsmanship in her home country.

As the official store of Additions, Triitme! offers visitors the opportunity to purchase selected products – that are exhibited at the show – online for the duration of the festival, plus six weeks after. Furthermore, Triitme! has invited illustrator Ricardo Cavolo and designer Cristian Zuzunaga to create an exclusive live installation during the festival.


This year’s CDW Presents brings together some of the leading creative pioneers to produce thought-provoking installations that push the boundaries of design, in terms of concepts, processes and material capabilities.

On St John’s Square, architecture practice Studio Weave has installed a pavilion, entitled Smith, paying homage to Clerkenwell’s heritage as the home to a range of smiths through history. Working alongside structural engineer Webb Yates and fabricator Nicholas Alexander, Studio Weave seeks to explore the creative use of tools and equipment, and how they can be applied to materials for product making. The pavilion (W3,675 x L6,125 x H5,705mm), sponsored by EQUITONE, is made from fibre-cement panels to provide a stress-skin.

During Clerkenwell Design Week, a group of contemporary craftsmen and smiths will take residence, hosting a range of open workshops and demonstrations. Harrington & Squires (20 May, 10am-5pm) will set up four Adana presses for visitors to experience the traditional process of letterpress printing, and print their own postcards to take away. On 21 May (10am-5pm), young designer-makers from The Goldsmiths Centre will host a pop-up jewellery and silversmithing workshop; while on 22 May (10am-5pm), Hobs Studio will invite architects and designers to enter their designs in an interactive workshop, and the winner will have their own model made by the studio using its latest 3-D printing technology.

Supported by the American Hardwood Export Council, design collective OKAY Studio has produced an exhibition – entitled FIVE – to celebrate the festival’s fifth edition,  which is on show at the SCIN Gallery.

Inspired by five American hardwood species – tulipwood, ash, hard maple, red oak and cherry, five design teams from OKAY Studio have independently created an eclectic mix of designs, to demonstrate how versatile American hardwood can be. The participating five teams include: Mathias Hahn, Liliana Ovalle, Ed Swan, Andrew Haythornthwaite and Peter Marigold (collaborating for this project), and partnership Hunting and Narud.

London-based architects russ + henshaw have partnered with Turkishceramics to create an installation, entitled Tile Mile, at St John’s Gate. Based on the concept of reflection, the installation celebrates both the built heritage of Clerkenwell and modern Turkish ceramics. The two inner arches of St John’s Gate (6m tall) feature parallel mirrors – also known as infinity mirrors – to reflect both the vaulted ceiling of the arch and the intricately tiled floorscape (W6m x L5.5m, using 7,200 tiles), creating the illusion of an infinite, crypt-like space. The tiling of the floor has taken an estimated 88 hours to complete.

In partnership with on office and tokyobike, architectural expert – also Chairman of New London Architecture – Peter Murray, leads a series of curated cycling tours over the three festival days, exploring the rich and varied working history of Clerkenwell.


As part of the Fringe programme, Clerkenwell Design Week has invited local creative practices – from architects and designers to branding agencies and craft studios – to host workshops and displays open to the public during the festival.

The official sponsor of Fringe, Urban Spaces has partnered with drinks specialists The Gin Garden to produce a temporary exhibition, entitled Portal to the Urban Gin Garden, at Portal restaurant on St John’s Street. The show features an exclusive installation created by multi-media artist Lauren Baker; known for her painted and embellished sculptural designs, Baker will also run a skull art class on 21 May. Other key events at Portal include a Grow Your Own Cocktail workshop on 22 May, hosted by urban gardener Tom Moggach for contemporary garden fair GROW London, and a gin tasting session run by British distiller Sipsmith on both 21 and 22 May.

Architects Paul Archer have teamed up with East London-based graphic artist Luke Embden to design a performance piece for the practice’s shop front on Farringdon Road. This graphic installation will be created over the course of three days during the festival (12pm-5pm), visualising the practice’s vision for the transformation of the railway cut of Farringdon station into a new public square serving the community of Clerkenwell. An informal Q&A with the architects and artist will also take place on the final evening (22 May).

Mid-century furniture shop Forest London celebrates its second anniversary, by offering visitors a sneak peak into its daily process of transforming a mid-century piece back to its original glory. The in-store exhibit features a set of four FT30 chairs by Dutch designer Cees Brackman in each stage of refurbishment, capturing the transformation of a 60-year-old design classic into a fully functioning piece of modern furniture.

Communication design studio four23 is fascinated by the fluid frameworks that define human relationships, and the role that innovation and technology can play in shaping them. During Clerkenwell Design Week, at its Berry Street studio, four23 brings to life the findings of If You Create A Highway – a research project that considers the areas of communication, human interaction, design, information and knowledge. Through digital and visual interactions, visitors are also encouraged to react and contribute – becoming part of the project to help further shape the research findings.

Chetwoods Associates offers a schedule of events during the festival under the theme, East to West and Clerkenwell to China: Cultural Evolution. The main exhibition, along with a range of daily talks, explores how the practice’s experiences in Clerkenwell have informed their work in China, including a project on the world’s tallest pair of towers.

On 20 May, Colin Macgadie, Creative Director of BDG architecture + design will be in conversation with Richard Millar, President and CEO of Hill + Knowlton Strategies at the new Hill + Knowlton premises (the Buckley Building) to discuss the client and design story. Meanwhile, on 22 May, the Contemporary Art Society will host a free talk from its Head of Art Consultancy, Fabienne Nicholas at Scandinavian Business Seating’s showroom, to discuss the importance of art in the workplace. The talk will focus on how the organisation works with corporate collections, including the commissioning process, the impact art and design has on a corporate space, and the value of investing in great art.

Creative agency Grey LDN, with one of the highest number of awards at this year’s D&AD, showcases the 2014 D&AD nominated work during Clerkenwell Design Week. The awards are to celebrate the best in design, advertising and digital work from the past year.


Staged on the third floor of Design Factory at The Farmiloe Building, the talks programme – an integral part of the festival – offers an arena to introduce and discuss new innovations, raise industry issues and network with fellow A&D professionals. With up to five talks scheduled for each day, this focused series delivers world-class content right at the heart of the festival.

This year’s Conversations at Clerkenwell addresses some of the key issues for London’s architecture and design industry. The programme includes talks and insights from leading architects and designers – from Ron Arad and Arik Levy, to The Campana Brothers, Sir Peter Cook, Sir Kenneth Grange, Ben van Berkel of UNStudio, Jason Bruges and Russ Hamilton of Farrells.

In partnership with the Design Museum, Clerkenwell Design Week has also invited influential figures including Patricia Urquiola and Rolf Fehlbaum of Vitra to host a special DM25 talk – as part of the museum’s 25th anniversary celebration – during the festival. Chaired by the museum’s Director Deyan Sudjic, the seminar explores the nature of the relationship between design and the world beyond the studio.