Clerkenwell Design Week 2017
by Olga Alexandru
We’re more than a bit sad that Clerkenwell Design Week is over! Walking around in the gorgeous sunshine, talking to artists and designers about their work, sipping something crisp we decided this week has been amazing! We’ve had some great conversations with people from all disciplines including ceramics, watch making and office furniture. The talks were inspiring and there were really fun activities that we were able to participate in! We left London feeling refreshed by the conversations, people and atmosphere we engaged with.
Here are some of the highlights:
You couldn’t go anywhere in Clerkenwell without seeing an amazing sculpture or installation. At Design Fields there were many interactive installations with children (of all ages!) climbing over. Our favourite was The Beacon, a 7.5 m high structure inspired by the Tower of Babel. The colourful Perspex squares had their swatch name written in different languages to reflect the diversity of the area. The views from the top were incredible! No comment on how long we spent climbing the installations.
Order was another beautiful structure. Made out of Corian it was a testament to the power of the material. Strong and beautiful at the same time walking around the installation you couldn’t help but be mesmerised by the shape and intricate snowflake-like quality. The structure changed as you moved around it and with the sun shining through it it created shadows in very unique patterns. Stunning!
The British Brands
There were lots of wonderful hardware items from taps to drawer pulls. We particularly fell in love with these aged brass taps from Samuel Heath. We were told they are bathroom taps but since they can be ordered in a variety of different lengths, we think they would look stunning fitted to the wall over a large belfast sink. The style and finish perfectly encapsulate the industrial aesthetic that is so popular at the moment. Beyond their aesthetic appeal the taps are made in England in the original building in Birmingham where the company opened in 1820. We love supporting fellow British brands and we can only hope that they extend their kitchen range!
We popped into the British Ceramic Tile showroom which house their beautiful collection of tile samples in a mixture of glass and ceramic. The majority of their products are produced in a factory in Dartmoor, Devon with 85% of the tile’s raw materials being sourced from within the UK. Clients have the option to purchase tiles from stock or to create bespoke design which can be screen printed or digitally printed onto tiles. We particularly enjoyed the range of textured finish ceramic tiles. Everything in the showroom was so incredibly tactile we couldn’t help touching all of the different textures!
We managed to go see a few talks but the one that stood out to us was the talk on Le Corbusier given by Stefan from Les Couleurs Suisse AG at the Domus showroom. The talk focused on Le Corbusier’s development of his “Architectural Polychromy” a system of 63 pigments of colour designed to complement the harmony between man and nature. He created these shades, giving them names and stories, so that colour could be used strategically with one another in design. Stefan talked about how prolific Le Corbusier was having completed 400 paintings, 8000 hand drawings, 34 books on top of his 75 individual buildings in 12 countries! Hearing about his system of colour and how he used it to create spaces that were harmonious to individuals reminds us of what a true visionary and legend he was.
Amongst all the new products and services being offered at Clerkenwell Design Week this year there were also a few experiences that encourage you to think a little differently. Several little experiments were set up by Hack the Senses, a small team who are blending technology with the more conventional analogue world. The experiments play with your sense of smell, sight, hearing and touch. Whilst wearing a VR type headset which showed a live video of ourselves from a different angle, (it’s very odd seeing yourself from the front!) the challenge was to throw balls into a box which was setup just in front of us. Turns out it is much more difficult than it sounds! Another experimental task was a piece of research that was being carried out to try and understand if there are links in our mind between our sense of smell and our sense of colour. One by one we were offered a smell that we would then choose a colour that we thought best matched. At the end of the experiment we were shown the results from other participants. While some of the opinions differed there was certainly a strong correlation and familiarity of colours between the smells.
Clerkenwell Design Week was a tour de force as always! We left feeling inspired and excited about working in the design industry. We’re excited to see what’s next.