Press Release:
Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 (19-21 May) celebrates design and creativity with special projects and installations

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Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 (19-21 May), now in its sixth edition, will showcase an array of newly commissioned projects, street spectacles and pop-up workshops, as part of its CDW Presents and Fringe series. Exclusive to the festival, these special features will be stationed prominently around Clerkenwell over the three days, created by a range of established and emerging names from both the design and architecture worlds. This year’s festival also sees the introduction of Icon’s House of Culture, a new location within The Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green, housing a collection of leading and culturally conscious furniture brands, interior companies, art and film pieces.

Tensilation by Grimshaw in collaboration with Cassina

Tensilation by Grimshaw and MDT-tex in collaboration with Cassina

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, comments, ‘From religion and radical politics to printing and beermaking, Clerkenwell has long been associated with ideas and production.

‘Now it is firmly back on the map thanks to the dynamic cluster of high-quality creative and commercial businesses working there. This has been celebrated in grand style by Clerkenwell Design Week over the last six years, which brings together world-class design talent, original installations and memorable moments of inspiration in a myriad of unique spaces.’


CDW Presents has become integral to Clerkenwell Design Week, renowned for its specially commissioned public installations with the likes of Ross Lovegrove, Studio Weave and Aberrant Architecture contributing to past exhibits. These projects aim to push the boundaries of design whilst challenging visitors’ perception of its application, from concepts to processes and material capabilities. As always, CDW Presents provides a focal point for public interaction – to inspire and entertain. This year’s features celebrate the transformation of London’s public spaces in a city that is rapidly densifying, with an international line-up of collaborators including UK-based architects Cousins & Cousins, Swiss design studio GRUPPE, furniture designer Sebastian Cox, sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon, US type house Monotype, local architecture practice Grimshaw and returning partners russ+henshaw and Johnson Tiles.

Glaze by Cousins & Cousins and Gx Glass

Glaze by Cousins & Cousins and Gx Glass

For this year’s festival, Cousins & Cousins have designed a multicoloured jewel-like pavilion on St John’s Square, in collaboration with Gx Glass – a leading UK manufacturer and supplier of glass to architectural interior designers. Drawing on the heritage of Clerkenwell as a centre of design and manufacture, such as the former Victorian glassworks at the Farmiloe Building, ‘Glaze’ offers a journey through a multitude of glass products that vary in size and colour, creating a walk through a visual wonder.

The vibrant panels change between opaque and transparent and are inspired by Venetian Murano glass. Fully demountable and reusable, ‘Glaze’ is designed to highlight and celebrate the versatility of glass, its colour and the surface designs that make glass an important medium through which designers and architects can realise their ideas.

‘Glaze’ will also be home to a live drawing session, performed by London-based graphic illustrator Grace Easton, between 4pm and 8pm on Wednesday 20 May.

Vita Contemplativa by GRUPPE and EQUITONE

Vita Contemplativa by GRUPPE and EQUITONE

New to the festival, Swiss design studio GRUPPE has been tasked to revisit Clerkenwell’s position as a little city within London, by re-defining its gateways, edges and centre.

The anatomy of Clerkenwell resembles one of an ancient Roman city, with clear edges, intersecting north-south and west-east roads, and a distribution of public spaces and buildings throughout. Entitled ‘Vita Contemplativa’ and supported by EQUITONE, GRUPPE’s design aims to strengthen Clerkenwell as a place with its own identity, using historic, architectural elements which also act as social magnets.

During the festival, specially designed, 1 to 1 column and forum models – made from EQUITONE’s façade panels in six selected colours – will be stationed across Clerkenwell. The columns will be situated on the north and south ends of St John Street, as well as the west and east ends of Clerkenwell Road, offering a mix of intimate and open gathering spaces. Two forums will also be on display, one outside Farringdon station and one in Exmouth Market.

Inspired by classic Roman structures and children’s building blocks, ‘Vita Contemplativa’ is designed to invite use and play, proposing new ways of seeing public spaces in a city. The project also highlights the quality of the façade panels – the solid form and slim dimensions of the material.

For this exclusive project, GRUPPE works with engineer Blue Engineering and fabricator Nicholas Alexander.

The Invisible Store of Happiness by Sebastian Cox, Laura Ellen Bacon and AHEC

The Invisible Store of Happiness by Sebastian Cox, Laura Ellen Bacon and AHEC

This year’s Clerkenwell Design Week also sees an intriguing collaboration between furniture maker Sebastian Cox and sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon, supported by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). ‘The Invisible Store of Happiness’, located under St John’s Arch, is a celebration of wood and craftsmanship, bringing together two of the UK’s brightest talents who have fused their ideas and skills to create an installation out of American hardwood.

This three-metre high wooden sculpture, made out of American maple and cherry, consists of a mighty steam bent frame that gives way to thinner, weave-able strips manipulated to twist and flow into a whirlpool of texture and shape. The piece combines Bacon’s background in intricate, landscape-inspired artwork with Cox’s skill in traditional furniture techniques including dry joining and steam bending. The resulting structure demonstrates how craftsmanship and creativity can be pushed to their limits to produce an exemplary piece of sustainable design.

Agora on the Green by russ+henshaw, Article 25 and SBS

Agora on the Green by russ+henshaw, Article 25 and SBS

Meanwhile, Article 25, Scandinavian Business Seating (SBS) and architects russ+henshaw have partnered to create a dynamic, temporary installation named ‘Agora on the Green’. It will be situated on Clerkenwell Green, transforming the forgotten space at its heart into a modern agora, reminiscent of the public square’s rich and colourful past. The feature will integrate SBS’s colourful RBM Noor chairs, inviting the public to engage and interact with it and reflect upon Article 25’s approach towards giving life to communities.

Grimshaw and MDT-tex have also collaborated to develop a pavilion, ‘Tensilation’ at St James’ Churchyard. The super lightweight structure is created by a new modular canopy system consisting of complex geometries. At the festival, this exciting space will house the exclusive launch of a new table range, co-designed by Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina and Grimshaw. The pavilion will host ‘Elements’, an exhibition which showcases the work of Grimshaw’s Industrial Design Unit through photography, drawings, models and full-scale furniture mock-ups and structural details.

At CDW 2015, international type house Monotype will host ‘WordPlay’, an outdoor exhibition that invites visitors to celebrate the way type design permeates and enhances our world. Local design talent and suppliers will experiment with wood, vinyl, mirror, metal, concrete and light to create seven giant words in seven Monotype typefaces, on display at various locations around Clerkenwell (#WordPlay).

Johnson Tiles will return to transform the front entrance to Design Factory at the Farmiloe Building. This year’s installation, entitled ‘Verve’, promises to be even more spectacular, with thousands of individually placed tiles turning the building’s outer walls into an eye-catching 3D display of colour.

‘Verve’ is designed and crafted by Johnson Tiles’ in-house team, led by its creative director Darren Clanford. Made at the company’s Stoke-on-Trent factory, a combination of gloss and satin tiles will be set into rows of blades emerging from the wall, reflecting and refracting the light to create a stunning visual effect.

Showroom partner Designworks Tiles has also created a specially curated design walk, ‘Hidden Histories’, with tours led by a local historian featuring five large-scale installations which delve into little known facts about the area; from man-eating bears to a giant diamond and Shakespeare in 3D, all of which have been created using tiles. ‘Hidden Histories’ showcases original design and creativity, encapsulating the vibrant spirit of Clerkenwell Design Week. Tours leave at 11am, 1pm and 3pm daily during the festival from the Designworks Tiles showroom at 91 St John Street.


As well as hosting an abundance of furniture and interiors showrooms, Clerkenwell is home to a variety of other creative practices, from architecture studios and branding agencies to developers and craft studios. During Clerkenwell Design Week, many of these local practices will throw open their doors to the festival’s visitors and host workshops, displays and installations as part of the Fringe programme. Sponsored by Stirling Ackroyd this year, Fringe aims to encourage interaction with participants’ peers and the public, providing a peek behind the curtain of creativity.

To celebrate their ongoing collaborative relationship, Alessi has partnered with Zaha Hadid Design to present its new and classic pieces, including designs by Zaha Hadid and Nigel Coates, alongside Piero Lissoni’s new Tic15 watch collection. On 20 May, the architecture practice will also host a panel discussion with Lissoni and Coates.

Ongoing festival’s supporter, Craft Central will display a multidisciplinary selection of work highlighting its residents’ exceptional talent. Participators include fine art photographer Veronica Bailey, jewellery designer Francine Oeyen, paper sculptor Paper Tango and letterpress studio Marby & Elm. Meanwhile, Bespoke will showcase new designers’ work in collaboration with furniture brand WorkHouse, alongside products from Custhom and By. Throughout the festival, a series of talks and portfolio surgeries by leading architects and designers will also take place.

City University London, with its creative origins in Clerkenwell spanning back to 1894, will host ‘Stories About the Z-Axis: The Art and Science of Designing Extraordinary Structures’ on 19 May. Celebrating breakthroughs in extraordinary skyscraper design, this exclusive event will consist a series of talks delivered by the engineers and architects behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

Returning partner Bisset Adams will open its doors once again, displaying new generative artwork. ‘Light Paintings’ by British musician Brian Eno who has pursued artistic ventures to become a leading visual luminary in the world of art.

On 20 May, Hawkins\Brown will run a panel discussion about Crossrail’s station design and artwork, while a special talk at NBBJ will look at the innovation of computational design and how it can help resolve issues arising from tall buildings.

On 21 May, Ben Adams Architects and SEA will come together to discuss the concept of ‘lean design’ and its relevance to contemporary architecture and graphics. This will be followed by a talk at SimpsonHaugh and Partners which explores the use of colour, texture and pattern in architecture.

The Fringe programme is always known for its interactive element, making it fun and informative for those who visit, and this year is no exception. Stirling Ackroyd will bring its sporting spirit to St James’s Church Garden with a ping-pong competition running daily during the festival, while Chetwoods will run studio sessions focusing on the five human senses – Taste (19 May), Sight and Sound (20 May) and Touch and Smell (21 May) – and asking if successful design can achieve a sixth sense. Also tapping into the theme of human senses, Studio Design and Memarzia – in collaboration with Ceviche and Rebel Minds – will present FEED, a digital dining experience that turns personal data into culinary delights on 19 and 20 May.

To encourage idea sharing and collaborative opportunities, Ardem will host a Pecha Kucha entitled ‘Nerd Nation’ on 20 May, with six speakers taking information off their desks, out of the screen and into the social scene.

Over the three days of the festival, a variety of creative workshops will take place across Clerkenwell. The Goldsmiths’ Centre will run a pop-up workshop where you can punch your own pendant or keyring on the terrace of its Bench café (19 May). Fedrigoni will invite visitors to its Imaginative Papers Studio for spring-themed origami workshops with expert Sam Tsang (20 and 21 May), while The London Graphic Centre will offer daily drawing classes as well as live drawing presentations.

Lighting manufacturer Factorylux and analogue print specialist Prelogram will take over Look Mum No Hands café on Old Street, offering a range of interactive events with highlights including the former’s Juggernaut launch, a unique sculpture that allows visitors to see and touch for the first time every component from the brand’s Modular collection, and the latter’s daily live metal type casting sessions using a working linotype machine.


A new location for 2015, Icon’s House of Culture features a curated selection of top European brands within the spectacular Georgian surroundings of The Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green. Design companies – from Fritz Hansen and Vitra, to Artemide, Gubi, Pinch, Timorous Beasties, Moroso, (uncommon) and Another Brand® – will exhibit alongside online luxury retailer D&D with PP Møbler. There will also be a chance to win one of four Series 7 chairs from Fritz Hansen by having your photo taken at a special photo booth.

Making Icon’s House of Culture an excellent meeting hub and working space throughout the festival, visitors can also enjoy film screenings, talks with leading designers and architects and an exclusive café CRU Kafe. The talks, held in the café, will feature Michael Young, Gam Fratesi, Ooze Architects and We Made That.

During the festival, books and magazines will also be available for visitors to relax with while they enjoy a specially commissioned installation by artist and designer Richard Rhys of Bloomsbury-based studio Pattern Foundry.

Heineken will be the venue’s drinks sponsor on the evening of 19 May.


Bert & May, expert in sourcing and creating unique materials, will launch its new property development arm, ‘Bert & May Spaces’ at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week. To mark the launch, the company will present ‘Barge No1.’, a temporary showcase on St John’s Square to demonstrate a modern spatial solution for alternative design-led living.

The essential information…

When … 19 – 21 May 2015

Where … All around Clerkenwell, London UK

How Much … Free to register

Tube Station … Barbican, Farringdon

Website …

Twitter … @CDWfestival #CDW2015

Facebook… /Clerkenwell.Design.Week



For press information and images, please contact the Clerkenwell Design Week team at Caro Communications:

Lucy Price, Account Manager

Jeffrey Cheung, Account Director

T: +44 (0)20 7713 9388


W: @carocomms