Clerkenwell has always had a vibrant and internationally recognised association with craft and innovation. That’s why we were excited to attend and experience the works on show this year with part of our design team attending the festival for a couple of days.
Historically its roots are firmly in the Arts and Crafts movement and its colonisation in the 18th & 19th Centuries by immigrant workers who set up their own workshops. This brought exciting new artisans to London and established them as leaders in their individual crafts.
Admittedly, the Arts and Crafts movement did wane but its pulse still beat strong and the latter-day colonisation of the area by creatives in the 1990s led to the current hothousing of exciting creative talent in the area. This is what differentiates and defines the success of the Clerkenwell Design Week.
Simply stroll around the Clerkenwell area today and you’ll see precision watchmakers, expert printers, meticulous bookbinders and a vast array of art materials on offer. It’s really heartening to see.
During Clerkenwell Design Week, the area is alive, bristling with activity and creativity. It’s this intensity that really underpins the success of the event with dozens of permanent showrooms and pop-up exhibits concentrated within walking distance. It makes the appreciation of their craft a real joy to experience.
It’s strange, but the sun always seems to shine at CDW. 2019 was no exception. Over two wonderful days, we breezed around the area, soaking up its rich and highly concentrated creative history. When we attend any exhibition or festival of art, we always endeavour to do four things. Experience. Discover. Learn. Play.
We saw a softening of pattern and silhouette as well as a muted colour palette. We were inspired by the tinted dark blues with indigo and teal making a refreshing change from black. These looked amazing as a foil for the clay, olives and ochres, as well as the patinised warm metals.
Soft colours were introduced into the neutral palettes as painterly brush strokes, adding a delicate edge to the grey palette. Metallic geometrics, tinted glass and washes of coloured light also impressed.
Encouragingly, environmental messages were also front and centre, as well as interesting collaborative projects which brought a completely fresh outlook to the design process.
We had a strong affinity with this attitude as it brought a new focus and meaning to raw materials. Each company at Clerkenwell had a fascinating story to tell.
CDW19 ended too soon and with so many great products and colours to inspire, we are already creating our own new development concepts. The dates for Clerkenwell Design Week are already in our diary.