Editor checks in: what’s happened (so far) at Clerkenwell Design Week

Taking centre stage for the first time since 2019, Clerkenwell Design Week is currently delivering a performance of a lifetime, writes Editor Hamish Kilburn who has been on the ground to capture the action…

CDW 2022

We’re not known for spreading gossip (only when it’s really juicy), but we have it on good authority that there are a few sore heads this morning – possibly our fault together with Table Place Chairs for putting on our join #CDW Takeover party last night. Following a spectacular first day (and evening) at Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW), which made its bold return yesterday for the first time since 2019, here’s a low down of what you may have missed – and, more importantly, what’s still available to explore.

Since it made its debut in 2009, CDW has become one of the UK’s leading independent design festivals, providing a welcome and creative platform for brands to showcase their products and for the 100+ resident showrooms to open their doors to new audiences.

For a few precious days, the entire neighbourhood of Clerkenwell, which boasts a deep layer of historical design and architectural heritage, lights up. This year has been somewhat of an exceptional edition of the event. Showrooms have made use of the opportunities to flex their muscles while the show has extended its territory to cover more ground, showrooms and trends. This year CDW’s festival route – follow the pink-lined road – has been extended to include Charterhouse Square, which sees Orticolario’s Delenimentum installation making somewhat of a statement. Take it from me, the gigantic version of the legendary Adirondack Chair created in 1903 by the designer Thomas Lee is a playful and photo-worthy addition to this year’s show.

“One element that has been hard not to miss has been showrooms and brands taking it upon themselves to create content.” – Hamish Kilburn, Editor, Hotel Designs.

Visitors attending the show can expect to be flooded with the latest designs, innovations and creative ideas, plus installations celebrating the fascinating history of Clerkenwell, as well as hundreds of design-led fringe events, pop- ups, workshops, talks and showroom presentations. Once again, CDW will host a series of talks in Spa Fields by leading designers and architects tackling topical and newsworthy issues. As interesting as these talks have been, though, one element that has been hard not to miss has been showrooms and brands taking it upon themselves to create content – something we have been proud to help amplify. To kickstart the proceedings, Hotel Designs hosted two engaging talks yesterday. The first, which took shelter inside Atlas Concorde’s new showroom was an In Conversation With Mario Ferrarini, and explored the designer’s unique approach to product design. Later in the day, the team arrived at the recently opened Table Place Chairs showroom, which was where the energy of CDW was well and truly captured with both an insightful panel discussion on blurring boundaries in hospitality and design followed by what can only be described as a the party of the week.

Also new for 2022 is Contract, where visitors can view the latest products for commercial interiors. Clerkenwell’s subterranean House of Detention, which was previously a prison in the mid-19th century is showcasing Light + Rising Stars where a host of new and upcoming designers are exhibiting alongside leading lighting brands. Pop, the former cold store turned nightclub (always a popular destination on the CDW route) has been an essential place to visit to experience brand activations and immersive installations throughout the three days.

In a partnership that has spanned five years, CDW has once again collaborated with Scale Rule to present the NextGen Design Pavilion. This year’s design concept for the NextGen pavilion exemplifies human impact upon the earth and in turn mankind’s responsibility to protect and shape it for better, a highly topical issue following COP26 in 2021. The domed structure illustrates a deconstructed planet, which is formed, fractured and reconfigured from natural materials including timber geometric segments. The pavilion celebrates sustainability through its modular production methods, recycled materials and future re-use, encouraging people to rest and socialise within its bounds, making use of and leaving their positive trace upon the structure.

As we reach the half-way point of the week, there’s still much more to look forward to, including a captivating roundtable discussion with Kohler and yet another party tonight at the Schlüter-Systems pop-up showroom where Hotel Designs will interview architect Lauren Hunt on how she, along with her team, managed to complete the once-in-a-lifetime Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

Stay tuned as our writer on the ground, Pauline Brettell, will be casting her official review of CDW very soon.

Main image credit: CDW