The best of 2016 Clerkenwell Design Week London
There is an abundance of creative energy in London. Festivals celebrating visual culture are popping up all over the city, and it is hard to keep up. London is home to a number of leading art and design schools, and its multicultural nature offers a constant flow of influences from other worlds and cultures, bringing their collective and individual experiences from far beyond the city walls. It also helps that London benefits from a vibrant commercial scene that can bring some of the conceptual work to life.
This week we visited Clerkenwell Design Week (24-26 May). In its seventh year and a relative newcomer to the festival scene, the three-day event is growing in size, confidence, and personality every year. CDW is as much about the exhibits as the location, this historic area has some striking old buildings, churches, greens, and even an empty old prison that contrast brilliantly with the clean lines of the contemporary work on display.
You enter CDW through St John’s Gate, where this year London studio Flea Folly Architects partnered with Hakwood to create an installation of stacked wood referencing the gate’s austere past. Along the route four glass-tile sculptures by Giles Miller Studio helped visitors navigate the fair.
CDW is as much about the products as the location, and one of the highlights was Icon’s House of Culture, an exhibition space dedicated to international brands and set up in the former Metropolitan Cold Stores in Smithfiled, now Fabric nightclub.
Here Stellar Works, the French/Japanese design brand headquartered in Shanghai, showed its Valet Collection, first seen at Salone del Mobile in Milan. American designer David Rockwell collaborated with Stellar, interpreting the roots of the word valet for a series of fourteen beautifully crafted, unique furniture pieces that are relevant for contemporary living. We particularly like the clever shelving systems that offer combinations for book and vinyl storage, and a bar.
At EBB & Flow, Danish lighting designer Susanne Nielson with her passion for glass and textiles showed products based on a combination of British and Nordic designs. Elsewhere in Icon, the Scandinavian company NORR11 displayed its collection that aims to rethink classic designs for today with a strong focus on taking inspiration from the natural materials.
The British Collection offered an interesting line-up of local talent. Pluck, for instance, is a bespoke modern kitchen collection by 2MZ, a Brixton-based design studio. Here they have used traditional materials in a fresh way, the clutter-free environment allowing the clean lines and thoughtful application of colour to stand out.
Minale + Mann debuted The Workshop and the new Well Hung collection. An elegant, and a rather sexy, line of furniture that works with combining wood and metal including a cantilevered dining table in American walnut and copper, and the unfolding bureau that appears as if floating from the wall was inspired by the grand piano.
The dim lights and dark corridors The House of Detention, a former prison and very chilly on that day, offered an interesting space to exhibit Platform. Amongst the forty up-and-coming designers showing their work, we particularly liked the clever modular breadboard by Baker Street Boys who also showed their coffee table/stool designs that work with metal, wood, and Perspex. And Rubertelli Design saw the London-based sculptor Stefano Rubertelli fuse the world of handmade and mass production to create striking, swirly lights that are almost pieces of art.
Over at Additions the display focused on interior products where Italian designer Monica Bispo offered her collection of ceramics. Inspired by artisanal craftsmanship, her pieces are both physically and visually handmade.
Elsewhere, Sam Jacob Design created the 3D One Thing After Another for Sto Werkstatt. The concept aims to explore the dialogue between the digital and physical worlds. Much like a Russian Doll, the original garden shed structure is 3D scanned to create a larger digital copy for the outside with another tiny scaled copy housed inside.
Tom Dixon has installed a large central chandelier in the main space of the beautiful 17th-century church in Clerkenwell Green, as well as setting up a working environment and kitchen that will remain as permanent fixtures here.
Clerkenwell Design Week ran from 24-26 May 2016. To find out more about exhibiting or attending the 2017 fair visit here.
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