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  • 5 new elements to look out for at Clerkenwell Design Week 2020

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
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    5 new elements to look out for at Clerkenwell Design Week 2020

    At an exclusive press launch in London, editor Hamish Kilburn learns how the organisers of Clerkenwell Design Week 2020 are preparing to make this year’s festival of design bigger and better than ever before…

    Members of the press gathered at The Charterhouse last week in the heart of London to understand how the 2020 edition of Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) will once again demonstrate the vibrant creativity and originality of this three day celebration of design.

    In London’s key hub for design and architecture, visitors can participate in new dialogues between showrooms and designers, hear from influential voices in the world of design and experience upcoming talent and innovating brands who are taking part. 

    Here are five take aways from the press launch.

    1) CDW Presents will be themed around ‘CLOCKWORK’

    Each year, CDW presents new design projects and street spectacles, commissioned specially for the festival and featured prominently around Clerkenwell. Inviting some of the leading pioneers in the creative industry, these projects aim to push the boundaries of design, in terms of concepts, process and material capabilities. Often a response to the local area, CDW Presents allows visitors the opportunity to discover Clerkenwell in a new and imaginative way, often referring to the area’s illustrious past.  At the beginning of the 18th Century, Clerkenwell was the home of clock-making and the area quickly became a hothouse for horologists; for 2020 in recognition of Clerkenwell’s historical importance in the clock-making industry, CDW Presents ‘CLOCKWORK’ – a series of five large-scale horology-themed installations, each interpreting the area’s significance to the craft and the artisans that once lined the cobbled streets.  From a contemporary take on the traditional sundial to an installation inspired by the hourglass, the selected designers who include Pilbrow and Partners and Shape London,  have created ideas that play with and explore the notion of measuring time.

    Scale Rule, now in its 5th year at Clerkenwell Design Week, continues to engage students from across London in design as well as young architects and engineers to realise those emerging ambitions. 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.

    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. The pavilion encourages people to rest and socialise within its bounds making use of and leaving their positive trace upon the structure.

    2) ClerkenWELL playing its part to inspire designers to think about wellness and wellbeing

    On trend, Clerkenwell Design Week will be focusing on wellness, tying in with Mental Health Awareness Week which coincides with the festival. With the rise of nomadic working and a society that has 24/7 access to email, the ability to disconnect from our work can become increasingly challenging and in turn employers are recognising the need to improve their wellbeing offering.

    From ergonomic furniture that helps physical posture, to acoustic pods that block out exterior noise, to workplace yoga and discounted gym memberships, more and more employers are taking steps to help their employees achieve wellness in the workplace. 

    Clerkenwell Design Week will be hosting free activities and events throughout the area demonstrating how we can relax and de-stress during the day, from outdoor yoga sessions to meditation workshops.  Holistic counsellor Julie Strandberg will explain how decluttering your workplace can lead to better mental health.  Having trained under Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, Julie innovatively blends the KonMari Method with her own innate Scandinavian aestheticism.

    Texaa, the Bordeaux-based specialists in acoustic products for architecture, marks its debut at Clerkenwell Design Week with a colourful tepee installation in Design Fields. This will also be the first time new colours for Texaa’s Aeria fabric will be seen in the UK. 

    3) Conversations at Clerkenwell to amplify vegan interiors, colour and the environment

    Render of a bandstand pavilion

    Image caption: CDW Presents The Bandstand Pavilion, where many of the talks will take place.

    CDW 2020 has commissioned architectural practice Fieldwork to design the Talks space, sponsored by Equitone, within Spa Fields.  Their concept reimagines the traditional Victorian bandstand as a focal point within the Park, a place for gathering, discussion, entertainment and shelter.   

    Rather than a traditional forward facing seating arrangement, the nature of the bandstand form allows the focus point to be partially in the round and engage the audience as a discussion, rather than a presentation. Equitone panels clad the internal dome and the external cube at high and low level. A bold use of colour and CNC pattern formed façade panels aim to draw attention from the surrounding park, as a modern interpretation of a Victorian architectural style. The bandstand becomes a place to stand, lean and sit in participation, focussing attention on the speaker and engaging the audience and the park in its entirety. 

    Conversations at Clerkenwell, the programme of panel sessions and debates exploring show content, trends and issues, is again curated by Katie Richardson. Lead speakers include Morag Myerscough, known for her expansive use of colour across both art and design,  designer and craftsman Sebastien Cox and designer Ab Rogers.

    Increasingly focused on design-led issues currently underpinning the changing world as we know it, the programme this year will look specifically at topics connected to the workplace including design responses to mental health issues and an increased need for overall wellness. Trends – led curators Franklin Till present recent work on the importance of Play. Dulux Creative Director Marianne Shillingford reveals what shifts in colour trends will take place over the next few years. Other topics for 2020 include vegan interiors, retail marketing and how contract showrooms need to keep reinventing to succeed, restoration with Roddy Clarke and New London Architecture host ‘don’t move, improve’ – a series of presentations from architects looking at how re-used materials and conscious environmental design, create the perfect home for a modern family.  Hosted on a purpose built space on London Spa Fields the programme runs across the three days and a separate series of talks focusing on lighting will be held at Fabric.

    4) New showrooms open for business

    Each year Clerkenwell welcomes a host of new showrooms to the district and these make up a key part of CDW with installations, launches and exhibitions. This year, the festival welcomes Ideal Standard, VitrA and Fritz Hansen.  Many other showrooms will be hosting a variety of events, with this year seeing a focus on wellness, recycling and sustainability.  Ultrafabrics,  the Japanese-American performance animal-free fabric brand will be collaborating with award winning design duo PATTERNITY who are creating a tactile and immersive installation within Ultrafabrics’  showroom entitled ‘Closed Loop: The Future of Design’.  Plastic waste has rightly become a major issue and Camira Fabrics will showcase its latest fabric innovation using plastic sea waste as a key component.   Oceanic is a fabric born of the SEAQUAL Initiative to achieve a waste free environment. 

    Other participating showrooms include Actiu, Ceramiche Piemme, Davison Highly, Havwoods, Interface, KI House, Modus, Moroso, Catellani & Smith, Sky-Frame, Solus, Tarkett, and Orangebox.

    Parkside, a leading specifier of architectural tiles, will focus on colour and how we can use it as a way of improving our wellbeing in our work and leisure spaces. The showroom’s series of events will include a panel discussion, ‘Curative colour: the power to heal’, exploring just how deep our emotional wellbeing is related to colour and whether a genuine link to health improvement can truly be found.

    5) Fringe activities for all

    As well as hosting an abundance of furniture and interiors showrooms, Clerkenwell is also home to a variety of other creative practices including architects, branding agencies and craft studios.  In celebration of Clerkenwell Design Week, a selection of these local practices open their doors to the festival’s visitors and host workshops, displays and installations. At the Zetter hotel, Sophie Thomas, Creative Director of Thomas Matthews, will be showing a collection of beautiful glass vases made using recycled plastic ocean waste.

    If you are interested in attending CDW 2020, head over to the website to register.

    Main image credit: CDW 2020

    Hamish Kilburn / 17.03.2020

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