Words by Emily Brooks
Back on the calendar for the first time since 2019, there’s a sense of anticipation about this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week. Billed as the biggest version of the event to date, one day isn’t enough to trawl the 10 separate venues plus scores of showrooms, all vying for your attention with new launches, industry-related talks and social happenings. Here are a few pointers of what to do, where to go and who to see.
Clerkenwell Design Week’s creative use of the neighbourhood’s various venues has always been a highlight of the event, from the dark and industrial Fabric nightclub to the vaulted 18th century crypt of St James’. This year, the crypt plays host to the British Collection, focusing on home-grown talent such as Benchmark and John Eadon. Head to Charter house Square for Covered, a new show dedicated to surface design featuring names such as acoustic materials specialist Bauxand Panaria group from Italy, makers of luxurious ceramic slabs.
Flagship addresses abound in EC1, and there are some exciting new spaces to explore. Head to Kettal’s new Dufferin Street hub to see the Spanish brand’s outdoor and workplace collections, including Ringer, an elegantly stripped-back cafe furniture range designed by Michael Anastassiades. On 24 May RAK Ceramics opens the doors on a major new space onSt John Street, a design hub that will see the launch of a new bathroom and tile collection by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.
Conversations at Clerkenwell
Head to the purpose-built pavilion – a contemporary reimagining of a Victorian bandstand, designed by Fieldwork Architects – for Clerkenwell Design Week’s daily talks programme. Gain insights from some of the best in the industry: highlights include a BIID-fronted secrets to success’ session (26 May, 12pm) to help professionals grow their business, with designers Simone Suss, Susie Rumbold and Yoko Kloeden; andMaterials Matter (25 May, 1pm) which sees three experts discuss the importance of materials in designing responsibly and sustainably.
As well as a raft of sustainable products launching, showrooms and venues delve deeper into the hottest topic of the moment with special events. Caesar Ceramiche hones in on the subject with a talk by journalist and sustainable design consultant Katie Treggiden (24 May, 11am) while Fabric is hosting daily up cycling workshops. The temporary installations dotted around the streets of Clerkenwell inevitably have a sustainable theme, too, with flooring companyInterface creating a ‘vortex’ made from Econyl, sourced from waste marine plastic, and architect NVBL creating a temporary shelter made from biodegradable TPU and held down by temporary stone footings – materials that can be easily disassembled, reused and recycled.
Showroom talks & tours
Expand your industry knowledge with one of the many events taking place within Clerkenwell’s showrooms. Get the lowdown on what makes a healthy workplace with a guided tour of flooring specialist Milliken’s four-floor showroom, which has certified WELL Platinum status (24 May, 11am; pre-booking required). There’s a CPD session about architectural tiles at Parkside Tiles (24 May, 10am), while Knauf hones in on sound performance with a CPD session called Why Acoustics Matter (24 May,11am).
Get some colour sense
Colour is a recurring theme across Clerkenwell Design Week, from the latest trend insights to how it affects our mood and wellbeing. Head to VitrA’s Colour and Me panel discussion (24 May,6pm) where artist Lothar Götz, VitrA design director Erdem Akan and designerRhonda Drakeford will share their personal experiences of working with colour. Götzhas created a special colour-themed installation in the showroom – and, while you’re there, check out Tom Dixon’s new Liquid collection for the bathroom brand. Experts from paint company Crown will deliver a trend talk at Ege Carpets (24 May, 11am), while Laura Perryman, author of The Colour Bible, heads an afternoon of talks and workshops at Modulyss (25 May, 2-6pm) focusing on the colours that are influencing wellbeing.
Clerkenwell Design Week attracts some big names to talk about their design philosophies and latest launches, offering the chance to tap into their expertise. Alfredo Häberli is at Moroso (24 May, 6pm) to talk about Taba, his organic-looking seating collection aimed at the contract market; Tom Dixon speaks as part of Conversations in Clerkenwell (24 May, 11am); and Patrick Norguet comes to RAKCeramics (26 May, 1pm) for an insightful discussion on the DNA of his design work and collaborations.