Clerkenwell Design Week 2017
After having had such a fantastic time last year, before I knew it, it was time for another trip up to London for Clerkenwell Design Week. It's a three-day event that brings together the country's best design professionals, as well as people like me who are sourcing new suppliers and products for our clients. Clerkenwell is an area of Central London in the borough of Islington, and boasts the biggest concentration of designers, architects and showrooms in the world, hidden in little alleyways and cobbled streets, surrounded by red-brick architecture and quirky modern offices. It's the perfect setting, and I could walk around and snap pictures of its Instagram-able streets for days. I spent the day wandering around the different showrooms and exhibitions, absorbing as much as I could. Here are a few of my best bits:
The first showroom I visited was Assmann Office Furniture, a German company who provide contemporary office furniture all over Europe. I was shown all their latest products, and one that definitely stood out was the sit/stand Canvaro desking system, which has an ergonomic design, smooth electrical mechanism and plenty of finishes to choose from to match your specifications.
Next up is Bene, with their new flexible collaborative system, Pixel. The wooden blocks are multi-purpose, and can be easily stacked as seating, desks or storage, in any combination you can think of. They can be finished in a variety of colours, or can be decorated by you in whatever style you like.
Upmarket flooring company Bolon have just released their collaborative collection with renowned architect Jean Nouvel. It's a woven vinyl product that gives the impression of a hand-woven finish, with influences from tribal patterns and colours. The 6 designs all come in rolls, and 2 are available in tile form.They are made specifically for heavy commercial use, have a 15-year warranty and are made from a minimum of 33% recycled materials.
The BuzziSpace Jungle was one of the most talked about, and certainly most photographed aspects of Clerkenwell this year, and attracted the playful among us - it takes inspiration from climbing frames, and provides a drastically different alternative to the traditional meeting space. Whether it's supposed to inspire creativity, or force a physical hierarchy (we think it's probably the former, but it depends on your boss), it's a novelty that your office health and safety representative might not thank you for.
The Gallery at Clerkenwell housed some amazing original Banksy prints - I've always been a massive fan of Banksy so this was a real treat. I was shown around by a lovely guy from Edge Design, who explained some of their designs to me and let me test out all their fab furniture. They're definitely one to watch, with their modern pastel colour palette mixing with bold prints by up-and-coming designers. A statement piece from them in a waiting area or breakout space could really take an office to new heights.
Gresham Office Furniture has a really lovely range of task seating, with the standout being the Oscar chair. The design and production teams have kept user requirements, materials, styling & sustainability in mind, and the ergonomics and lumbar support are at the top of their list of priorities. The focus on these aspects has meant that little adjustment is available, so it's a good idea to let your staff test these out before you buy. However, the lack of hardware underneath the seat has resulted in a super-clean design, with smooth flowing lines.
There are exhibition spaces all over Clerkenell during the three-day event, and I managed to visit a few of them. My favourite by far was Platform, housed in the House of Detention, which shows off some of the best cutting-edge design that you might not have heard of. Heading underground into the cells of this old prison, the heavy heat of London is left behind, and the cool air adds to the atmosphere built by clever lighting and placement of products.
This is a fantastic event, and well worth going to if you're in the business, and even if you're not. You get to see all the latest products and emerging designers, and ideas about how to incorporate them into your life, professional or personal.