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Clerkenwell Design Week 2023: highlights from day two

Continuing our round-up of favourites as we reach the midway point, here’s our top picks from Wednesday.


4 min read

Clerkenwell Design Week 2023, Old Sessions House

The streets are getting busier and busier at Clerkenwell Design Week as the festival continues with its roster of talks, exhibitions and showroom launches (to name a few) between 23-25 May. With over 160 showrooms and 600 events, we round up a small selection of highlights from day two.

Back To Nature

Briefly touching upon mushrooms yesterday, we can’t let today go by without mentioning PLP Architecture’s impressive and interpretive installation, Symbiocene Living. Located next to Ceramics of Italy at St John’s Square, the 3D printed timber shells can be transformed into numerous shapes including seating, towers and interesting spatial formations. With the former translating to ‘companionship’ in Greek, Symbiocene Living explores the hopeful next era of human history in which we harmoniously exist with nature while actively seeking to work with it to ‘build a better world; defining future infrastructures and what this will look like, PLP are actively exploring the use of building properties made from sustainable materials, including mycelium.  

Meanwhile, just off Clerkenwell Road at their new showroom, be sure to pop in and see AllSfär’s mycelium acoustic wall tiles, produced in collaboration with mushroom packaging manufacturer the Magical Mushroom Company. Produced from UK grown funghi and industrial hemp, Fika is a solid example of a wall tile that is aesthetically attractive while also being functional and sustainable. The geometric shape of the tiles enables them to be rotated to create different patterns when combined, leaving designers with plenty of room for creativity.

We also ventured into Interface’s showroom at Pennybank Chambers to see their latest biophilic carpet tile collection, Upon Common Ground. Centred around the exploration of the deep connection First Nations Australians have with their country, the tile is made using 100% recycled solution-dyed nylon and remains carbon neutral throughout its full lifecycle. Consisting of five biophilic-inspired carpet tile designs, the collection includes Sandbank, Shallows and Undulating Water which draw inspiration from waterways, textured sands and the layering effects of ripples in shallow and deep water. Also on the list is Dry Bark which encapsulates the ‘naturally furrowed character of wise and weathered tree bark’ and comes in both a neutral and accent palette, while Escarpment presents a foundational style to the collection and captures the beautiful earthy details of centuries old stone cliffs.  

Design For All

An inclusive theme weaves itself through many of the festival’s events, with a focus on designing for all. Starting at Clerkenwell Road, modulyss hosted a great talk with neurodiversity consultant and TEDx speaker Rachel Morgan-Trimmer this morning, who shared her creative insights on how design can be upgraded to suit those with needs often missed.  

Don’t miss a look at furniture specialists Frövi’s new 5,000 sq ft showroom on Sycamore Street where the team are hosting workshops to increase awareness of what inclusivity and neurodiversity means when designing spaces for clients. With nine workshops in total – three each day – starting at 11am, stop by and see guest speaker and inclusivity pioneer Gillian Burgis Smith RIBA ARB RIAI Leesman AP, a Cambridge University affiliated, RIBA Credited Architect and Interior Designer. With limited availability, you can sign up by emailing: Jonathan.Williams@frovi.co.uk. 

While yet to be a highlight, Design Council’s sold out panel discussion on diversity in design to be held this evening as part of Conversations at Clerkenwell at Spa Fields. Featuring design director and diversity & inclusion mentor Simon Hamilton and Design Bridge’s Vicky Yang alongside Emma Morley from Trifle* and Lillana Saldanha from OPX Studio, the panel will be solution-focused, exploring the interventions required to increase regional diversity in the design sector. At a slightly earlier time of 6pm and at Coat Paint’s HQ on Sans Walk, Franky Rousell from JOLIE will be discussing her take how sensory design and colours can promote productivity and improved mental wellbeing. Expect big crowds at both! 

New kids on the block

Platform on Cowcross Street is more than worth a visit to see CDW firsts from a host of designers. Make Relief’s solid cork was a personal highlight for the Mix team, who loved the reinvigorated look of this sustainable material. The ‘Kerf’ cork coffee table offers a contemporary furniture solution for interiors – also available in recycled plastic from Smile Plastics – while Cork Relief Green offers a dynamic piece of artwork comprised of magnetised sculptural green cork blocks, aligned to the same grid, so they can rearrange in an infinite number of ways. Each geometry can be replaced, rotated or swapped out for another design.  

Adjacent, London-based furniture designer and sculpture Kostas Synodis displays the impressive Notch; an African palaver chair made from three pieces of symmetrical vaneer plywood to minimise material use. Strong yet slight, it’s hard to not notice how little room Notch takes up, folding into a 24mm thick board when not in use.

Watch this space for tomorrow’s highlights as we round up the best of CDW ’23, day three.

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