To say that Clerkenwell Design Week has made an impact on the London design scene would be a bit of an understatement. Boasting over 60 showrooms and hailed as one of the most acclaimed trade events on the international design calendar, I made yesterday the relatively short journey to London EC1 for their opening day to witness some of the emerging talents along with the more established players. Excitement was already palpable as I arrived at Farmiloe Building, the largest of their four key venues, with large displays of furniture on their ground floor. There seemed to be a strong emphasis on clean lines, good ergonomics and contemporary appeal even though it was a bit of a mixed bag at times. Some of the displays were colourful and original in terms of design while others lacked visual excitement in my opinion. There were a few memorable highlights though, coming from high-end lighting specialists who combined a skillful approach to creating mood and atmosphere with avant-garde designs and tactile experiences.
The most exciting part of the exhibition was for me held at the House of Detention. The venue’s atmospheric architecture created a stunning backdrop to some of the most exciting up-and-coming design talents. I spent quite a bit of time there chatting with a few designers and, even if it may seem a little unfair, I’d like to single out three of them simply because I particularly related to their design achievements.
Foundation Rugs is run by two designers, Mark Hanlon & Nick Hartwright and they create very limited editions of one-off rugs brought together by some of the brightest talents in graphic design, illustration, graffiti, street art & pop culture. From colour picking to spinning, dyeing and weaving the carpet, their work is original and you’re pretty much guaranteed a bespoke piece of artwork that, surprisingly, doesn’t come with the heavy price tag.
I really enjoyed meeting Kit Miles, possibly because he stands for everything I admire about textiles. He creates futuristic and surrealist wallpapers and textiles with a strong emphasis on colour, scale and original draughtsmanship. Not a fledgling designer anymore, he is commissioned by some of the world’s leading luxury hotel brands and high-profile fashion designers. I doubt I will ever be able to afford any of his fabrics but his work is nothing short of stunning.
Last but not least, I simply fell in love with Freyja Sewell ‘s “private space within a public world” which provides a luxurious and cosy escape to read, rest and relax away from the rest of the world – or anyone else pestering you intermittently when you’re reading a good book or chatting with a friend on Facebook. A lot of thought in terms of temperature regulation, biodegradability and craftsmanship has been put into this project but what stands out for me, is the originality of the concept which may prove popular in increasingly populated metropolitan areas.
And the best of the rest!