Forward Thinking

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M Moser’s Steve Gale, tells us that if you Google CDW, you get Collision Damage Waiver

Furniture is not really my thing I am slightly embarrassed to say, but I know it’s what falls out when you invert a building. I have a bit of a blind spot, being more of a people person these days, but mercifully I have found a mentor to persuade me. ‘Just in time for CDW’ and then explained what these three letters mean, and in no time I wanted to bask in the warmth of ‘the UK’s leading independent design festival and one of the most acclaimed trade events on the international design calendar’ according to the Craft Council. That’s quite a claim to live up to, and this is what I learnt (some names changed).

So, after my day job, I get a taxi later than I’d like to Farringdon to meet the crew. I am boyishly excited to not only have my mentor as a guide, but also a guest from our San Francisco office, Sal Bosco, who has had three hours sleep in three days.

‘All gummed up rahnd Farringdon mate. Quicker to walk from ‘ere’ taxi driver advised, so I peg it into ‘the zone’. There’s Sal, bang on time, so I guide him like a seasoned CDWer along two short streets and turn left into a human wall, actually more like a lake, of people washing and lapping gently up against the shores of Great Sutton Street, swirling slowly like the raft of plastic bottles somewhere in the Pacific Ocean that’s supposed to be visible from space.

We are absorbed like a cricket ball hitting the outfield, all momentum gone, and blinking gormlessly I spot familiar faces a mere 20 feet away. Here, in the churning urn of Clerkenwell are friends, Pip, Fritz and Boz from my office looking very pleased with themselves. I glide towards them. Two more turn up and I feel humbled by their professional interest in the latest furniture offerings. I had no idea of the empathy for modern design that resided in admin people and financial controllers. Where had all this enthusiasm come from?

Another face I recognise, the very sporty Lurch, hoves into view generously carrying three beer bottles. This is more like it, refreshment to whet our appetite for what is obviously a very popular display of hardware. I soon find that the three bottles are for Lurch’s personal consumption, and begin to contemplate the pub opposite, which is almost empty as everyone is in the street, when up bounces my furniture mentor Chunky Banter.

‘Here you go!’ He produces bottles and glasses of wine from somewhere, hands them around to what is now an office reunion, and then nips off for more. Now with the basics covered I ask Chunky what is going on. ‘Welcome to my world’ he beams, ‘this has got to be the most mental Clerkenwell week yet’. But where is the furniture I wonder?

Things look up when Jack turns up with a real furniture rep, Tom from Wisley, or Selsea or maybe Tilsey. ‘Have you got any furniture, ‘I ask trying to contain my excitement, adding ‘I think I have played cricket at Southsea’. Tom says predictably ‘have a beer’ followed by ‘Join the queue for a hot-dog, they are really good, I’ve had two, or there’s burgers at Nollers if you want’. Beer is swallowed, wine is spilt, bottles begin to form a small unstable bottle mountain using a lamp post for structural support. Sal is now talking to Lurch who is supplying him with cigarettes without any writing on them. He’s got no hands free for a hot-dog. Strangers come up and talk, or maybe they’re not strangers – and then I see it.

This is actually CDW, I am not in the waiting room. From here I am free to wander ten paces into a real cutting edge showroom, and a few steps along the road to another – and so on.

There’s the ThinkStuff, Ironbox, Biltong, Germanic sounding Berndt Stix, an Italian Ferrami, and a rather British sounding Bretton Wood, and that’s all within one sweep from my spot, bobbing in the human lake. These places are very very busy, and peering through the windows I can see it’s not completely dedicated to viewing tables and chairs. It’s now only eight o’clock and radical shapes are being cut while a band hits some well-practised covers.

‘This would be illegal in San Francisco,’ marvels Sal, ‘drinking in the street, vehicles driving around with people in the road, and now smoking’ he said taking a pull on his third cig ‘it’s like Naples, but not as warm’.

More risqué than San Francisco, and certainly cooler than Naples (by a few degrees) – I was proud of how this part of London had turned out. You could almost photograph the optimism and energy, and indeed some did. ‘You should come a bit earlier next year,’ said Chunky.