Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW – registration now open on clerkenwelldesignweek.com) returns to London between 23 – 25 May 2023. Taking place across the whole of Clerkenwell, a neighbourhood renowned for its high concentration of architects and designers, the festival is set to offer its biggest programme yet – featuring more than 600 events.
The 12th edition sees a total of 11 exhibition venues presenting more than 300 design brands and makers – supported by a network of over 130 local showrooms hosting a range of product launches, workshops and talks. Over the three days, architects and specifiers, and interior designers alike will have the opportunity to explore everything from new furniture and lighting to kitchens and bathrooms, materials and surfaces, decorative accessories, and more.
Key areas highlighted as creative hubs within the festival, aptly named Design Destinations, are also introduced to this year’s CDW. Expect a whole host of thought-provoking installations, brand activations and clusters of temporary design showcases taking over new venues including The Goldsmiths’ Centre, Cowcross Yards and the studio of Groupwork Architects led by Amin Taha – as well as returning to festival goers’ favourites such as Brewhouse Yard and Bourne and Hollingsworth.
“We’re thrilled to be back with an even bigger line-up, including some of the most exciting names from the industry,” says Marlon Cera-Marle, Design Division Director of Media 10. “From major installations to fresh new talent and product innovation, we very much look forward to bringing an abundance of creativity and world-class content to the heart of Clerkenwell this May.”
Among some of the festival’s headline names is London-born-and-bred artist and designer Morag Myerscough – who will open the talks programme, Conversations at Clerkenwell, in Spa Fields on 23 May, and also create the exterior wall of a freestanding installation on St John’s Square. This special exhibition from leading acoustics specialist, Baux, is designed by its in-house team along with Form Us With Love, highlighting the work of eight students from Scandinavia’s finest architectural institutes. The brief was to explore how buildings of tomorrow can nurture productivity, wellness and creativity, and the students’ design concepts will be presented through scale models and renders. Other established talents participating in CDW are multidisciplinary artist and designer Yinka Ilori along with designers Sebastian Cox and Nipa Doshi of Doshi Levien.
Architecture goes inflatable
As part of this year’s CDW Presents programme, the festival has commissioned a large-scale installation by British artist Steve Messam – who is well known for his inflatable artwork reimagining our everyday surroundings. Messam will bring his distinctive public art to St John’s Gate of the Order of St John. This 6m high, site-specific piece – titled Gateway and in collaboration with SketchUp – will feature 27 giant spikes hand-sewn in a striking blue textile. It forms part of the artist’s ongoing art series taking over historic architectural sites – and inviting the public to examine their environment in a new light through its deliberately ambiguous shape and size.
In addition to Gateway, visitors can experience Messam’s artistic treatment of the iconic, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott-designed telephone boxes – sponsored by Budvar. They will be located on Cowcross Street, as well as on Clerkenwell Road and outside St James’s Church during the festival.
Sustainability is the norm
Another immersive feature of CDW Presents is Symbiocene Living: Mycelium Building Block, an interpretive, artistic mycelium installation that encourages the public to envision and engage with fungi architecture. While the modular feature is made of mycelium blocks with a 3D-printed timber shell, the blocks will be arranged to create a different formation incorporating abstract seating and towers on each day of the festival. Set to be situated outside Clerkenwell and Social on St John’s Square, this one-off piece is designed by East London-based PLP Architecture – which has produced some of the world’s greenest designs through a profound commitment to social, economic and environmental values.
Over at Old Sessions House, Heiter X – a sustainable food design and experience studio founded by Estonia-based Helis Heiter – will present Terra Firma, an edible tablescape aimed to spark conversation and inspire change in the way we think about and interact with food.
Modern craft perseveres
Greek-born, London-based furniture designer and sculptor Kostas Synodis will join the festival for the first time. Blending art and design with his signature pared-down aesthetic, the newcomer will exhibit a new foldable low deckchair – inspired by an African palaver chair but reimagined in a more contemporary approach.
Hand-blown glass lighting specialist, Curiousa will present its new Wave chandelier featuring five hand-formed glass vessels threaded onto beams of light. Including horizontal Ripple Beams and vertical Crest and Cascade pendants, the pieces intersect with each other creating a feeling of effortless interplay and suspension.
Koda designs and makes bespoke furniture by hand in its studio and workshop in Yorkshire, UK. The 10-year-old business will bring its ergonomic height-adjustable walnut desk – an elegant reimagination of a traditional writing desk – as well as its walnut media unit to the festival.
The outdoors is calling
CDW 2023 also welcomes another exciting line-up of outdoor furniture launches. Clerkenwell-based Jennifer Newman Studio will have an installation on St John’s Square focusing on outdoor terrace products, all made in London; while Italian company Ethimo will present its new collection including the in-house designed Bold table, as well as a series of concrete vases – named Bulbi – by Studiopepe.
British company Case will exhibit at Groupwork for the first time, displaying its Eos outdoor collection by Matthew Hilton, and its Danish counterpart, Norr11 will launch the new outdoor editions of its popular Studio sofa and Hippo lounge chair in its Clerkenwell showroom.