We invited Talib Choudhry, Interiors Editor of the Telegraph Magazine, to identify his highlights at Clerkenwell Design Week, the UK's leading independent design festival which happened in London last week ...
Covering a whole building in a pattern looks audacious – particularly when it is one as notable as the Grade II listed London landmark Centre Point – but it is actually relatively easy to do. The know-how exists. So when British print designers Eley Kishimoto wrapped the Sixties skyscraper in one of 17 patterns they have created for Almacantar, the developer of the site, they didn’t have to think too hard about how it was going to be achieved. One of the other collaborations they are involved in to celebrate the revival of Centre Point was much more difficult to pull off, even though it is on an infinitely smaller scale. Unveiled during the recent Clerkenwell Design Week, Eley Kishimoto’s prints have been applied to the inside of Anglepoise’s Original 1227™ desk lamp – a first for the iconic lighting brand. Three patterns, ‘Private Views’, ‘Urban Meadow’ and ‘Central Link’ appear on striking new editions of the lamp, printed in a monochrome palette. Thoughtfully and precisely placed, the effect is nonetheless punchy and impactful, thanks to graphic nature of the prints. Mirroring the strong Sixties design aesthetic and taking inspiration from the way sunlight and shadows play on the facade of Centre Point, the printed lamps were a highlight of the exhibits on show in the Farmiloe Building, Clerkenwell Design Week’s main hub. The lamps are available for pre-order here.
The vogue for updating classic designs in unexpected ways was evident elsewhere, too. Transport for London used Clerkenwell Design week to launch its year-long celebration of transport design, unveiling a collaboration with AGA. The companies are less unlikely bedfellows than it might initially appear, thanks to the late industrial designer Douglas Scott. An unsung hero of the British design world, Scott dreamt up two of the UK’s most iconic products, the Routemaster bus (1947-56) and the AGA cooker (1938). TFL has teamed up with AGA to launch a special edition of the AGA City60 (a electric model that’s the same width as a conventional cooker) which comes with Routemaster branding and chef pads made from classic Routemaster seating fabric in an iconic textile design also by Scott.
Also unveiling design classics by Mid Century greats such as Hans J Wegner, the Danish brand Carl Hansen & Son opened a new space in Clerkenwell’s Bowling Green Lane. Carl Hansen & Son joins a number of international furniture companies with showrooms located in Clerkenwell, and opened its space to coincide with the area’s annual design festival - a sign of its growing international stature.
At the other end of the spectrum, there were installations and pop-ups a-plenty, and experimental designs to counterbalance the classic. Leading the charge was architectural practice Cousins and Cousins (helmed by husband and wife Ben and Yelena) who created a glowing coloured glass pavilion inspired by Murano glass sweets. With intersecting glass panes in candy colours, visitors to St John’s Square were bathed in a shifting rainbow of light as they walked through.
Just a few meters away, an even more diverting sight awaited: an enormous barge on dry land that had been craned in (to much stress and amusement) by the encaustic tile and wood flooring purveyors Bert & May. Christened ‘Bert’s Barge’ it wasn’t merely a showcase for the graphic patterned tiles that the deck was clad in; it was also the launch of surprising new adventure for the company. Kitted out with a beautifully curated interior by the stylist Laura Fulmine, the barge is on sale for £150,000 and it’s the start of a property wing of Bert & May, with prefab houses also in the pipeline.
Talking of the future, the rarely opened Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green was transformed into a showspace by Icon magazine. Dubbed the House of Culture, contemporary designs (Pinch Design and Timorous Beasties were standouts) were juxtaposed against the faded grandeur of the early 19th Century building to striking effect. Formerly a courthouse and a Masonic lodge, planning permission was sought late last year for it to be turned into a mixed-use development for retail, restaurant and office spaces. There’s also talk of a roof top garden and swimming pool. No doubt if it does go ahead it will be the place to see and be seen at forthcoming design weeks.