If the explosion of design trendsetters flocking to take part in Clerkenwell Design Week says one thing, it’s how fundamentally creative this part of the city is.
London Craft Week might be the sensational new kid on the block, but CDW is its established, niche sibling, celebrating the creativity of EC1, which is inhabited by 200 architecture practices alone. CDW always takes place during the week so it’s relatively trade focused (65 per cent of visitors last year were architects and designers), although some venues stayed open in the evening.
If you’re serious about design, though, it’s worth a morning off for a stroll around Clerkenwell’s winding streets, alleys and pocket parks, especially if you are blessed with spring sunshine bringing the colours, textures and materials of the street installations to life. Festival registration is free (visit clerkenwelldesignweek.com); and, if nothing else, it’s worth it to get better acquainted with all that this hip part of town has to offer.
Among the highlights this year was the collaboration Shezad Dawood X Brintons. Fusing the technical wizardry of Brintons carpets with the creativity of artist and filmmaker Dawood, the result are wall-hangings that cross over into being bold contemporary tapestries.
Exhibiting these pristine panels within a dingy loading bay gives that pop-up sense of raw versus refined, as CDW bursts out of Clerkenwell’s venues (Fabric, St James Church, furniture showrooms) and into emerging spaces, such as this former printing press and brewery on Goswell Road.
Bringing 10 installations to the streets transformed Clerkenwell into a giant sculpture garden. Although the works themselves weren’t the most aesthetically pleasing (and somewhat baffling even when explained) the sentiment is there.
Design Fields was a two-storey venue near Exmouth Market showcasing products new to the UK. Among those drawing a crowd were the irresistibly touchy-feely zero-maintenance moss walls by MOSSwall (mosswalluk.co.uk) and the outdoor furniture by Ethimo (ethimo.com), oozing Italian styling.
Make sure you visit in May 2018, as it’ll be last time to visit CDW in relative calm before Farringdon’s Crossrail station opens.
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