What’s going on at Clerkenwell Design Week? – Day One
Clerkenwell Design Week is up and running – and what a day for it. The sun came out and made the start of the festival a true taste of summer, with designers and brands from the world over having the perfect opportunity to showcase their products and ideas on a day worthy of the name British Summer Time.
The festival offers all kinds of design work, more than can be covered in this blog, and while this offers some of the highlights of Clerkenwell Design Week, there are so many other companies, showrooms, ideas and people that will bring much more to the remainder of the festival.
Playing host to the 2018 Design Guild Mark Awards was Bisley. Of course, they are no strangers to the award, with their classic MultiDrawer being recognised for its timeless qualities in design, functionality and quality being recognised in 2017.
This year, aside from their beautiful showroom, offering the latest and greatest in business storage, they were hosts of the Design Guild Mark Awards. The unique awards offer designers the chance to present to judges and receive feedback for their work. It offers a special opportunity for British designers, who don’t always benefit from the same levels of exposure as their counterparts in Italy and Germany.
“Furniture is a very fundamental design challenge. Getting it right is very difficult and we should celebrate the fact that we have twelve furniture prizes to hand out – and each is exactly right.” said Jeremy Myerson, international academic researcher, author and activist in people-centred design and innovation, who presented the winners with their awards.
Alasdair Bremner and David Binns picked up a Design Guild Mark as well as the Jonathan Hindle Prize for the 2D category for their eco-architectural material Silicastone. The product is made from 100% recycled post-consumer glass and pre-consumer vitrified ceramic, useful for interior and exteriors. Chairman of Panaz, Tony Attard, explained the importance of the invention being made of 100% recycled materials, citing that “not many things are made of completely recycled products, marking a step forward for design for future generations”.
Bisley also launched the exhibition 2018 Matter Of Fact with Dirty Furniture, storage and display units that nine separate designers have used to showcase an item they feel will ‘splice through a particular moment in time’.
The exhibition featured pieces which all seem to reflect on the volatile news landscape we live in, including Python Code, by Tobias Revell – 36 acrylic sheets engraved with the code which can mimic Barack Obama’s voice and facial movements in an ultra realistic ‘video’ of the former president. Likewise, Border-Wall Trophies, by Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlsworth, satirises a scenario where the much spoken about USA-Mexico border wall has been created and wealthy donors who helped fund the divide are rewarded with metal plated replica trophies. The designers all seems to have found some common ground in the idea of the hypocrisy we live in, an age where news can be so easily manipulated to further agendas and political capital. Graphic design work for the exhibition was created by Mathias Clottu, beautifully put together to tell the story of 2018 Matter of Fact.
A piece of particular importance this week is the REPEAL jumper – a statement created by 26-year-old Dublin based activist Anna Cosgrave devised to encourage conversation around the legal battle to allow women to have abortions in Ireland, the referendum for which is taking place on the 25th May. The jumper has become an iconic image, the simple work ‘repeal’ representing the entire struggle women in Ireland have had to fight against, and a legal change that 67% of Irish people support.
British designer Sam Jacob created a 3D-printed replica of an Achavanich beaker. It represents the Beaker People, named after the clay objects they valued so much that they were buried with them. The original was scanned and then reprinted in yellow resin to tell the story of the ancient people – whose story could have been forgotten about but was allowed to live on through the clay beakers they left behind. Again, this speaks of story telling and the passing of information, something malleable and able to be repurposed or redesigned.
Later in the afternoon, Bisley played host once more – this time for drinks and snacks as festival goers filled the showroom to take in the atmosphere and the vast array of products on offer.
Today, Bisley proved to be more than just award winning business storage manufacturers, but also the Hostess with the Mostess.
One of the attractions found around Clerkenwell was Clarus‘ unique glass caricatures. The company offered souvenir glass portraits to showcase their product: an alternative to the whiteboard or chalkboard of bygone times. Unlike these boards, whatever is written or drawn on the glassboard will not bleed or ghost due to its non-porous nature, and can be removed with Windex or alcohol. View: Glass Projection, also offers projection onto the glass, so as to further illustrate diagrams or whatever you may want to project; it’s a blank canvas to create.
To showcase the glass, the talented artist Benjamin Vincent created caricatures of passersby. In as little as 5 minutes he created some excellent portraits, as the Informare team can testify and as shown below:
Walking into the newly opened showroom is a culture shock the moment you step foot in it. Instantly you’re transported to a blend of America and Japan: the ethos behind the showroom.
“Let’s not dream about tomorrow, let’s create it.” their slogan rings true. It’s something that Ultrafabrics try to incorporate into all walks of their work, whatever way that may be. The new space is an office for collaborations, a unity between the two inspirations and ethos’s within the brand. Here, the showroom can be used as a space for interaction, where different market can feel and experience the Ultrafabrics brand hands on, both in terms of the materials on offer and the space as a whole.
Everyone entering is encouraged to touch and feel the sartorial experience in all of its capacity, truly using the space to its fullest potential. The Japanese design is elegant in its appearance but also clinical in its efficiency – everything is there for a specific purpose and design. The simplistic racks may seem common place for material hanging, but coupled with the long table beside it they provide an intimate base to discuss and deliberate potential design specifics.
The newly opened office hosted Japanese inspired cocktails later in the day to further showcase the space and its influences. Come for the materials and fancy office space, stay for the Japanese inspired drinks and food. Thank you Ultrafabrics.
Throughout all of the shows, and the day as a whole, the running theme of sustainability and interconnectivity has been at the forefront. Designers are showcasing the importance of being influenced by different cultures and ideas, and allowing that to bleed into their work, with Ultrafabrics’ fusion of America and Japan evident in their showroom being a perfect manifestation of this. Likewise, the significance of making products which are sustainable for future generations is a common goal of everyone at the festival.
Design is about creating something which is more than just functional, but forward thinking, ecological, innovative. Wednesday brings about a new day for Clerkenwell Design Week but we’re sure that these themes will continue – fingers crossed the weather does too.