We took our third annual field trip to CDW to take in the inspiration and innovation that never fails to disappoint, year after year. From ergonomically friendly office furniture to the future of sustainable, durable materials, Clerkenwell Design Week managed to give us an insight into what we can expect from up and coming designers and architects.
In the 21st century, it is common knowledge that keeping the environment sound is paramount in so many aspects of our lives. The concentration resides in materials used to build day-to-day appliances and how many miles said appliances cover when being shipped from city to city. Plastics have been used for years, supplying consumers with sturdy and useable products. They are durable, reliable and often cheap to retail – they have however, had a negative impact on the environment in several aspects. In order to counteract the scourge of using plastics, CDW saw a handful of designers turn to the use of polystyrene. This malleable and adjustable material has been described as one of the most sustainable materials in existence due to how recyclable it is… as long as you know a place that knows how to recycle it!
In collaboration with Bakers Patterns, who specialise in polystyrene making and manufacturing, studio 8FOLD, TDO Architecture, and Studio DA each came up with their own take on sculptural forms made from huge blocks of the material. Throughout Clerkenwell Design Week, polystyrene structures could be seen standing tall and beaming in the spring sunlight. The preliminary stages of a brand new mind-set could be felt amongst all of the exhibitions that covered the streets of EC1.
Kinetech Designs unveiled a spectacular piece at CDW. The epic kiri-origami structure could be seen taking centre stage at St John’s Gate where the first performances of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth were held. Designer Elod Beregszaszi specialises in Origamic Architecture – this technique fuses origami with kirigami. Given the appropriate name Royal Approval, the installation had been designed to resemble an Elizabethan ruff.
Brinton’s Carpets collaborated with Timorous Beasties, unleashing a mixture of exposed scaffolding and luxurious carpeting. Held in a completely wooden showroom designed by Studio Shaw Architects, the two themes complimented each other. On show for all to see was the Craigend Collection which looks to resemble surfaces that are found naturally underfoot. Craigend actually stems from Craigend Place and is also inspired by the old Gaelic word ‘Creag’, which means rock.
Disegno x Steelcase
One of the most enlightening moments for us at Clerkenwell Design Week was a panel discussion conducted at the Steelcase showroom in collaboration with Disegno. The panel consisted of a well-versed group of speakers: Caroline Till, Carole Collet and John Small. Each represented a specific pocket of the design industry – research, education, and manufacturing, respectively. What we took away from this question and answer panel was that sustainable materials exist, however the challenge is convincing established brands and companies to adopt an initiative that is brand new. Trust is an important component where change is concerned – the new generation of designers and architects definitely have their work cut out for them.
Materials that are better for the environment may not be able to stand the strain of extreme heat or cold. This then means that companies that make cars for example, will continue with the same practice of using sturdier materials. However, the question then has to be asked – what were we using before metals and plastics were a necessity? It may take some time until questions like these can be fully answered, and answered with feasible, economically AND environmentally friendly solutions to boot… but we are pleased that platforms like CDW are providing scope – microphones even – for those questions to be asked at all.
Clerkenwell Design Week: clerkenwelldesignweek.com