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Clerkenwell Design Week 2023: highlights from day one

We share the themes and threads that caught our collective eye across three days of design innovation and inspiration.

23/05/2023 5 min read
Mix presents maximalism at conversations at clerkenwell

Clerkenwell Design Week has returned with a full-to-the-brim programme of events taking over the design savvy neighbourhood of Clerkenwell from 23-25 May. With over 160 showrooms and 600 events to explore over the next three days, we round up a small selection of highlights from the first day of the festival.


Maximalism had an unavoidable presence throughout the busy streets of EC1. Opening the official talks programme Conversations at Clerkenwell, designer and artist Morag Myerscough spoke to U+I’s Martyn Evans about her exuberant work, which aims to transform places and champion community and public interaction through colour-filled, joyful installations and immersive spatial artworks.

Showcasing her work and design philosophy in action, Myerscough has teamed up with acoustic specialists BAUX and design studio Form Us With Love to create a colourful maximalist freestanding installation at St John’s Square. The usual muted tones of BAUX’s Wood Wool panels have been reinvented in Myerscough’s trademark bold colours and patterns, covering the entire exteriors of the installation.

Later at Design Fields, Mix Editor Harry McKinley chaired a panel on creating characterful spaces, designing bravely and asked the question – ‘is good taste subjective’? Joined by Zaha Hadid Architects’ head of interior architecture Kar Hwa Ho, design journalist and author Claire Bingham, Ultrafabrics director of branding Nicole Meier and Shayne Brady, co-founder and director of hospitality at Brady Williams, the discussion jumped from the meaning maximalism, to how it will evolve in the future – taking into consideration sustainability and longevity. “You can’t be all things to all people, and you shouldn’t try,” commented Brady. “You design for a narrative and the people.” Read more highlights from the conversation in the next issue of Mix Interiors, published in June.

Moving across to Great Sutton Street, Domus has teamed up with Yinka Ilori to create his debut tile collection – Yinka Ilori x Domus, introducing the London-based designer’s eclectic mood boosting colour palette and patterns across two new maximalist ranges, available in 16 joyful colours and five modular shapes. To mark the launch at CDW, Ilori has presented ‘A Magical World,’ a window display installation in his characteristic style using a vibrant range of the handmade glazed ceramic tiles.

Another maximalist installation, not only just in size, headlining this year’s CDW Presents programme is a specially commissioned installation by British artist, Steve Messam – who exhibits internationally and is well known for his large-scale, inflatable artwork reimagining our everyday surroundings.

‘Gateway’ takes over St John’s Gate, measuring 6m by 15.5m and featuring 27 giant spikes hand-sewn in a striking blue textile. It forms part of Messam’s ongoing art series taking over historic architectural sites – and inviting the public to examine their environment in a new light through its deliberately ambiguous shape and size. Messam used 3D design tool SketchUp to create the sculptures.

Scandi Takeover

Later at Design Fields, a panel discussion ‘What’s Nordic about Nordic Design’ explored the cultural, material, and industrial context from which Scandinavian furniture design has arisen, raising questions about the Nordic region’s design identity. Hosted by Disegno, with guests including Fritz Hansen and Alvar Aalto 2023 Steering Group, the group discussed how the mainstream idealistic idea of Scandinavian design was formed, its cultural significance, and what it can do to stay relevant in an ever-evolving market.

From Sweden, Lintex produces writable surfaces made from tempered glass, textiles, solid wood and enamelled steel. In its brand-new showroom on Northburgh Street, the company are inviting guests to enjoy typical Swedish ‘Fika’ mornings, we grabbed a kanelbullar and coffee and discovered a series of recently launched mobile glass writing boards including Mood Fabric and Frame designed by Halleröd and Matti Klenell.

Returning to the festival this May is Fredericia. In its Dufferin Street showroom, the Danish family-owned business displays its Savannah sofa and chair collection, as well as its Børge Mogensen-designed J39 chair in new colourways – inspired by the late designer’s country home and studio in Lynderup, Denmark.


As usual, a distinctive sustainability thread runs through this year’s event. As part of an open discussion about the climate crisis, Orangebox has opened up its showroom to facilitate conversations around this shared responsibility. Highlights from day one included a talk with mycelium innovators Biohm, shining a light on the massive potential mycelium can bring to the built environment. Hugely versatile with numerous interior design applications, mycelium can be grown into any shape, and locks in carbon as it grows – for each sq m of mycelium insulation that Biohm grow, they sequester between 0.8-1.7kg of carbon. Throughout the week, other companies such as Brompton Bicycles, Grown in Britain and UBQ will present more ideas and insights.

‘How do we tell meaningful stories of material innovation in a digital age’, and ‘how can brands communicate complex circular systems whilst maintaining simplicity and integrity?’ are just some of the questions posed at a talk hosted by Caroline Till, co-founder of research agency FranklinTill, exploring its recent collaboration with Tarkett and 3D motion design agency Found on how to effectively communicate the beauty of circularity.

UK textile specialist Camira has launched Revolution, a recycled wool fabric made from its own waste yarn. A closed-loop product, Revolution is the first fabric to be created using iinouiio – the textile recycling capability – at its Yorkshire-based manufacturing sites. To mark the launch at CDW, Camira has also commissioned waste textile artist, Sandra Junele, to create four pieces of artwork – using textile surplus – for its showroom in Brewhouse Yard.

A recycled composite tile consisting of over 91% recycled content, Parkside’s Sequel Principle is on display at the Sekforde Street showroom. The manufacturer collects unwanted materials from the ceramic and glass industry to create this range, with recycled materials are locally sourced in Spain and every square metre of the tile diverting 8kg of waste from landfill.

The Senator Group X Sustain has presented “Leave No Trace”: a pop-up installation in their Back Hill showroom, celebrating the beauty that can be created from a recycled source and curated to start a conversation around materials and manufacturing methods.

Part of The Senator Group, Sustain is a 15,000 sq ft recycling centre, handling waste from the UK’s contract furniture industry. Drawing from Sustain’s waste streams, the Group’s designers and engineers have reworked recycled materials to produce reformed pieces that raise awareness about sustainable future furniture concepts as well as showing raw materials in a creative way.

Sustainable flooring highlights came in the form of Milliken’s Down to Earth – a carbon-neutral carpet tile collection designed and made in the UK, and Interface hosted the first in a series of discussions on ‘life-centred design’ and biophilia, with biophilic design strategist Victoria Jackson discussing why nature remains central to a more holistic approach to design. Look out for more talks throughout the week from the likes of Oliver Heath and Rachael Owens, co-ordinator of Architects Climate Action Network.

Watch this space for more Clerkenwell Design Week highlights, published each day.

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