Clerkenwell Design Week is a free internationally renowned festival held annually in London, in an area that has the highest concentration of creative business and individuals in the world. Each year hundreds of businesses exhibit new and existing designs at the three day event, with many new products being launched at Clerkenwell. This year, Megan Walker, who is currently on her BSc Product Design placement year with Brighton based interior architecture and design studio Claire Potter Design tripped up to London with them to visit the festival for the first time…
‘Having never visited before, I was really interested to see just what Clerkenwell was all about. This May was the 6th anniversary of Clerkenwell and headline sponsors Renault used the festival to release their brand new car, the Kadjar and to discuss the design philosophy behind their range of designs. As well as being exhibitors and sponsors, Renault also operated a shuttle service between the four main exhibition locations and gave tours of Clerkenwell using their tiny Twizy range.
Aircharge were also sponsors, giving smartphone users the chance to download the app and charge their phones by visiting selected venues around Clerkenwell.
The Design Factory is the main hub of the festival and showcases the talents of designers mainly from the lighting and furniture design industry. The most memorable stand for me was the Dezeen Watch Store, where watches were displayed in wooden crates, on a bed of beans and wrapped around fruit, with the offering of free apples to visitors. They were also quite proud of the fact that their watches ‘would not be obsolete next year’ – one of many puns and references to the new Apple Watch. The Platform exhibition was held in the basement of the House of Detention, where the individual cells of the old Victorian prison played moody host to emerging designers from a range of design disciplines and countries.
Each year, many of showrooms around Clerkenwell open their doors and welcome in visitors to exhibit different interior design products. The amount of showrooms exhibiting grows year on year, with over 80 this year, each with their distinctive pink festival banners waving in the breeze.
For a product design student entering their final year, Clerkenwell is fantastic for inspiration. Its not often you get to experience interiors and products you more often see in magazines, or lighting that was an example in a GCSE text book. It is great to see how designers use materials and the different processes used to create products up close. Exhibition stand design is a feature of many final year students lives, with end of year shows to be planned and seeing how business marketed themselves to the public was great inspiration for our design show next year.
Clerkenwell design week is a must visit! Don’t just take my word for it, give it a visit next year and plan what showrooms you want to visit beforehand – there is so much to see!
(photos by claire potter)