by Lucretia McCarthy for JRA
For the seventh year running, designers have taken over Clerkenwell. Across eight exhibition spaces and a community of showrooms, pavilions and installations, the area celebrates all things design. With so much happening in one area, it’s hard to know what’s worth a look. I’ve rounded up my top picks, so if you’re a CDW virgin, or only have a day to spend – here’s how to make the most.
The theme running throughout CDW 2016 is the process of designing and making, with companies keen to distinguish themselves through the thought that goes in to their production. Head to the Museum of Making, a colourful barn by White Arkitekter in St John’s Square where you can see crafter’s in action and explore the history of making. The pavilion functions as a social space and there’s a programme of workshops to take part in if you fancy testing your own skills.
One of the best things about CDW is being surrounded by creatives having time out from the studio. Hearing insights from the experts is invaluable and probably the best way to spend a bit of time during the day. Go to Platform, the exhibition space for emerging designers. Here you can see the next generation of brands and catch up with creative collectives like ‘We Are the Women’ who are producing a range of cutting edge interior pieces. During my day I also spent a bit of time with the local designer of dotdotdot.frame who demoed his versatile interlocking furniture, and tested my art skills at the Ideapaint stand who can turn almost anything into a whiteboard. Both stood out as great examples of the key trend for versatile self assembly products.
As part of the designer’s takeover, a number of spaces across Clerkenwell have been opened up to the public. World renowned nightclub Fabric is playing host to Icon’s House of Culture, featuring a curated selection of international brands, you’re given the chance to see the building in a whole new light. Platform’s venue is the subterranean House of Detention, a cavernous space where you can explore new designers work across a network of prison cells and tunnels – it offers an atmosphere like no other…
Across the showrooms and exhibition spaces, standout pieces of artwork abound. Many of this year’s exhibitors have been keen to show the interaction between art and design – incorporating beauty and function in their pieces. The Additions exhibition space features a range of art under the umbrella of ‘interior accessories’. If you’re short on time, Nic Parnell’s Strata is a must see collection influenced by geological phenomena. The wall mounted pieces, created using complex resin treatments can function as table tops, chairs or be moulded into bespoke components. Equally exciting is the launch of the Invisible Personage chair by BD Barcelona who are opening their first UK showroom during CDW. Inspired by the surrealist artist Salvador Dali, the chair exhibits synergy between art and design utility at its best.
This being design week, some extraordinary people watching spots have been set up. In between exploring, you’re going to need to take a load off and you’ll be spoilt for choice across the venues. The Future of Design pavilion allows you to immerse yourself in a piece of art. An education and community project, the pavilion takes the form of an unfurling wooden structure with an integrated bench. You can also test out the latest technology in seating, brand My Slouch are a highlight, having created glow in the dark beanbags to trial. If the sun is shining, head to the Lollygagger Living installation in the garden of St James. Surface Matter has teamed up with Loll Designs to deliver an outdoor lounge using furniture made of surprisingly stylish discarded milk bottles.