Clerkenwell Design Week opens today, 23 May 2023 featuring product showcases, a busy talks programme and commissioned installations with bio-mimickry, regenrative and circular design given a bigger platform this year.
Now in its twelfth year the three-day event launches its biggest programme yet, featuring around 600 events, 300 design brands and eleven exhibition venues.
In a bid to encourage visitors to consider a future with fungi architecture, East London-based PLP Architects has created an interpretive, modular mycelium installation. Made from mycelium blocks with a 3D printed timber shell – each similar in size to a watermelon – the arrangement of the installation will incorporate a combination of abstract seating and towers. It will be situated outside Clerkenwell & Social on St John’s Square.
At Old Sessions House, sustainable food design and experience studio Heiter X will be exploring the intersection of food, art and sustainability with its Terra Firma edible tablescapes. Founded by Estonia-based Helis Heiter, the studio wants to create a platform for investigating the relationship between food and the environment, with the view of encouraging conscious consumption. The table’s topographic surface is made up of natural and repurposed materials, including raw clay, natural carnauba wax and biomass, and is designed to grow sprouts.
Another out-of-the-ordinary project to look out for is Bioo Lux’s lighting concept, which is a lamp that can be switched on and regulated through human contact with a living plant.
Parkside Tiles has collected unwanted materials from the ceramic and glass industry to create a range of recycled composite tiles comprising over 91% recycled content. All of the recycled materials are locally sourced in Spain and each square metre of the tile is said to divert 8kg of waste from landfill. Parkside’s Sequel Principle tiles will be presented in its Sekforde Street showroom.
Using waste materials such as coffee bean shells, sawdust from wood production, and plastic waste, Mater Design has relaunched the Conscious Chair 3162, originally designed in 1958 by Danish furniture designer Børge Mogensen and architect Esben Klint. The chair is made of several sustainable materials. It incorporates wood from an FSC-certified forest, meaning the forest is being managed in a way that aims to preserve bio-diversity, benefits local people and ensures its economic viability. It also uses Mater Design’s own patented recycled fibre-based material Matek, which is made from post-consumer and post-industrial waste by-products combined with recycled plastic waste from GROHE. This chair – which will be available in six different versions – marks the first time that a Børge Mogensen design has been relaunched in a different material than the original. Mater will also present an interactive installation centred around their new patented waste material Matek, which will take place at their
London showroom, Mater Earth Gallery.
Recork is a relatively new Kent-based company which creates flooring and rugs made from natural cork. The cork is harvested from trees grown in Montado, Portugal. Rare trees – known as Quercus Suber – can be harvested 15 times across their 200-year life span without damage, as they regenerate after each extraction, according to Recork. which also claims that a harvested cork oak retains three to five times more CO2 than an unharvested tree. The Montado cork oaks are also legally protected and harvesters must follow certain rules. Trees must be 25 years old, with a circumference over 70cm, measuring 1.3 metres above ground to be viable for harvest and the extraction comprises a six part process: opening, separation, dividing, extracting, removal and marking to show which year the tree was harvested. Recork’s latest collaboration with Sugo Cork Rugs will also launch at Clerkenwell Design Week.
Taking a planet-first perspective, Sebastian Cox will launch his first lounge chair made in British-grown wood and upholstered in natural, sustainable and non-toxic materials. Through his work, the furniture designer hopes to store 100 tons of CO2 a year in his products while also doubling the area of wild land and woodland in the UK by 2040. Alongside his wife Brogan, Cox manages a woodland in Kent – using traditional techniques such as coppicing to ensure biodiversity and regeneration– which is where he sources his materials. Other key pieces in his British Collection include the Quartered co-working table, featuring four legs carved from a single trunk, and a new tabletop edition of his Chalara light.
Meanhile visitors can expect to see a new project by family run design studio Soldi Design, which will include sustainably made recycling bins manufactured through its supply chain in Italy. The design-led bins are being launched in the UK at Clerkenwell.
Collaborations to look out for
Artist and designer Morag Myerscough is set to open the festival’s talks programme, Conversations at Clerkenwell in Spa Fields on Tuesday 23 May at 11am. Her freestanding installation, designed in collaboration with acoustic specialist BAUX and international design studio Form Us With Love will sit on St John’s Square, forming the exterior wall of a space that highlights the work of eight students from Scandinavian architecture institutes.
British artist Steve Messam has worked with 3D design software company SketchUp to design and make an inflatable artwork called Gateway, measuring six metres in height and 15.5 metres in length. Intentionally located at St John’s Gate of the Order of St John nearby to three historic Clerkenwell telephone boxes, the installation serves as the latest piece in Messam’s ongoing art series in which he takes over historic architectural sites. The inflation will feature 27 giant spikes hand-sewn in a bright blue textile and is deliberately ambiguous shape and size.
Yinka Ilori’s collaboration with tile, stone and wood supplier Domus will launch during Clerkenwell Design Week. The tile collection will utilise Ilori’s signature vibrant colour palette and pattern style across two new ranges, aiming to bring positivity and joy into surface design and interiors. To mark the launch, Ilori will be presenting a window display installation in a similar style, which will be on view at Domus Clerkenwell on Great Sutton Street.
Talks to catch
Across the three days, Clerkenwell’s programme will include 18 talks with speakers such as Soho House’s interior designer Domhnall Nolan, Design Council CEO Minnie Moll and Pentagram’s experience and sound designer Yuri Suzuki.
Themes of the conversations include Scandinavian design, communicating design circularity, Maximalism, and the future of wellness within the hospitality sector. A Sustainable Living talk series will run throughout the programme with one talk each day dedicated to discussing the role that design and designers play in the climate emergency.