As a Londoner who loves exploring new parts of the city, I was delighted to be invited to tag along to Clerkenwell Design Week. Now in its sixth year, the festival is running from 19 – 21 May across different locations in Clerkenwell with four main hubs supported by showrooms featuring exhibitions, events and product launches.
The pull for me was mainly to get out of the house for a few hours and see interesting things and places, especially as I had heard about the creepy prison, the not-so-creepy crypt and the factory building from last year’s show. I hadn’t explored around the Clerkenwell/Farringdon area much either and I’m always on the lookout for potential new work areas.
Alighting at Farringdon, we went straight to the first hub location – Design Factory – at the Farmiloe Building. The Grade II listed Victorian building is the most delightful, higgledy-piggledy trip of a building. I’m not ashamed to say that I think I fell in love with it. Is it offices? Is it a warehouse? Is it a film set? The answer is ALL OF THE THINGS. It’s been used by Christopher Nolan for each of the recent Batman films and Inception and I walked around with a grin on my face at the kookiness of it!
You enter through the Shed area and walk through to the Courtyard off which you walk into the connecting spaces, with the front of the building having the offices and the back feeling more warehouse-y. Remember The Crystal Maze and the different zones? It felt like that, except less Aztec and Medieval and more Industrial and 40’s Noir. (If you don’t remember The Crystal Maze then, well, there’s no hope for you is there?)
Some favourite things spotted at Design Factory:
Curves for days with this DeZir concept car by Renault
A morbid mirror by Stellar Works
Inspector Turpin’s terrariums by The Urban Botanist
Beards and bulbs by Dyke & Dean
Faces and flowers in this beautiful Air Flake hanging screen by Abstracta
I want, basically. Gridlock at SCP Contracts
#MyVerve by Johnson Tiles
Some interior shots of the Farmiloe.
Next stop, just as the heavens started to open, was Detail at The Order of St. John, another place I had no idea existed in London. This location featured luxury brands within the church, garden and cloisters. It provided wonderful shelter during a massive hail storm, as you can see in this picture, covering the outdoor furniture in ice and creating a new water feature in the garden!
Whilst everything was gorgeous, nothing really grabbed my eye enough to warrant a picture…but that could have been because of the deluge pounding against the stained glass distracting me from pretty things!
Once the storm had abated, another hidden gem was to be found, literally! The subterranean House of Corrections showcased Platform. The dungeon-esque feel, coupled with the fresh rain and damp, dark rooms made this a great venue to visit, but I wouldn’t have liked to have been an exhibitor. The water found its way through the cracks and left walls and floors wet and puddle-y. Not great for wooden furniture!
These lights by Louise Tucker must have done something terribly bad to be imprisoned.
Our final stop was an actual crypt, but I’d been told that it wasn’t going to be half as atmospheric as the prison/dungeon we’d just visited. Additions holds the smaller design pieces and interior accessories and felt homely, which was just as good as I was feeling so cold.
The very first stand as you walk in totally enchanted me, so much so that this section might just end up being an ode to Jimbobart and Zack Mclaughlin. You know me, you know I’m animal mad, so this seriously appealed to me. Lovingly illustrated plates and cups surrounded by a papier-mache bear, raccoon and lemur. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE??!! I was so filled with warm and fuzzy feelings.
As a lover of kingfishers (and occasional lucky spotter of our little dude on the mill pond) I immediately spotted the beautiful work by Zack Mclaughlin. Such intricate detail, such gorgeous colours, I was so enthralled I forgot to take a picture, so here is one from Zack’s Instagram (pic credit @paperandwood_)
There endeth my journey to Clerkenwell, as we didn’t visit the many showrooms also taking part. All in all, I really enjoyed my saunter to CDW2015.
Would I return? Yes, I thought the venues were stunning, (you’re getting entry into some otherwise restricted places) the products interesting and the atmosphere buzzy. It would definitely be a date on my calendar if I had a new home to furnish or some money to spend, or even if I just wanted inspiration. It’s always lovely to discover new things that you might not have seen before, and great to support British and London designers and brands. Displays were innovative and it was just to lovely to see some colour! Getting around is so easy, there are maps everywhere, A6 booklets with tonnes of information within as well as signage on the pavement guiding the way. They must have spent an absolute fortune on promotional materials!!
If you want to visit, registration is free, but be quick! It finishes tomorrow at 9pm.