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Clerkenwell Design Week

Estates Review previews some of the must-see events and exhibitions at the upcoming 2011 Clerkenwell Design Week


Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) – London’s premier celebration of design – returns to the capital with aplomb following a hugely successful 2010 inauguration. The three-day festival will take place between the 24th and 26th of May 2011 and brings together a varied and vibrant programme of events taking in debates, discussions, presentations, exhibitions, street parties, workshops and installations all in the name of celebrating and embracing design.

Above: Ligne Roset – Ruché settee

The packed programme of exhibitions and installations will showcase the latest product and furniture design innovations from over 50 British and international manufacturers. CDW crucially offers the unrivalled opportunity to see many new furniture and interior accessory launches first unveiled at Milan’s furniture fair back in April.

Showrooms participating at CDW 2011 include: Ahrend, Wilkhahn, Steelcase, Orangebox, Haworth, Kusch and co, Strata Tiles, Boss, Hands, Modus, Silverline, Triumph, B-loose, Knoll, Girsberger, Brunner, Forbo, Desso, Koleksiyon, Poltrona Frau Group, Bene, Interstuhl, Hettich, Vitra, Moroso, Milliken, Lammhults and Bulo. Many will be staging exclusive new product launches, talks with high profile speakers and VIP parties.

One off commissions play a large part in the festival and aim to engage visitors in the most prominent issues within the design world. This years special features confirmed to date include: A life size pin art installation by internationally acclaimed handbag designer Lulu Guinness; a specially designed giant inflatable structure entitled The Emotion Maker by Berlin based experimental architecture group Plastique Fantastique, and a curated exhibition by product designer Oscar Diaz and his studio Federal Office called Political Objects which will show objects and images that represent the shifting ideologies of a new generation of designers.

Above: Womb Chair by Eero Saarinen (Knoll Studio)

New to this years event will be The House of Detention, an underground Victorian prison hidden away in the heart of Clerkenwell. Not usually open to the public, this unique venue will become home to site specific installations and innovative product displays for the duration of the event. Exhibitors include; Timorous Beasties who will be showing a series of brand new lace material patterns designed for modern architectural spaces; Multi-award winning illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen whose unique style has been spotted by Harvey Nicholls and Italian restaurant chain Zizzi’s will be treating visitors to live drawing and interactive workshops; Bark Furniture will be launching two new additions to its Acorn Collection, The Sideboard and The Chest of Drawers; Design duo Steffen Ringelmann and Vibeke Arnt-Jensen who established The RAD Gallery, a curatorial project and gallery devoted to showcasing emerging art and design talent will be popping up with an exhibition focusing on the work of lighting designer Dari Bae and her handmade chandeliers.

Once again, CDW will take up ‘residency’ at the Farmiloe Building on St John Street, housing a pop-up design exhibition, featuring cutting edge displays and installations from an array of international designers and organisations from across London and further afield.

“We’re delighted to announce the return of Clerkenwell Design Week in May 2011.” Comments Daren Newton, founder of CDW. “Building on a hugely successful launch, one that exceeded all our wildest expectation, 2011 is already shaping up to be bigger and better. We’re continuing to attract not just huge amounts of interest from the design community, but also from the general public who seem to have an unquenchable thirst for design. We now look ahead to a busy few months bringing it all together.”

The name Clerkenwell comes from the Clerks’ Well in Farringdon Lane, where London parish clerks performed mystery plays in the Middle Ages. Since the Industrial Revolution it has housed craft workshops, notably printers, clockmakers and jewellers; printing and bookbinding (conveniently near the Smithfield tanneries) still flourish, as of course do graphic designers. A revival of Clerkenwell's faded fortunes came in the 1990s, when architecture, design and other creative practices flocked to its comparatively cheap but central studio and workshop premises.

Clerkenwell has long been regarded as the creative hub of the UK. A stone’s throw from the city, it is home to a plethora of new media agencies, graphic and interactive design studios, more than 200 architectural practices (more per square mile than anywhere else on the planet) and is home to over 60 design showrooms including world leaders Vitra, Poltrona Frau, TOTO and Moroso.

Clerkenwell Design Week is run in partnership by Media 10 and Mix Media Ltd, the event has been established to celebrate Clerkenwell as the heart of the design industry.

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