Clerkenwell Design Week 2019

It was CDW’s 10th anniversary this year and the show seemed bigger than ever with 294 exhibitors and an estimated 30,000+ visitors/registrants. In addition to the specialist exhibitions, it was nice to see good levels of participation from the established showrooms –especially those that made a real effort rather than just ‘opening their doors’.

With just three days available, it was hard to get around everything –and it’s the established showrooms that tend to miss out –especially those on the geographic fringes. Honestly, we could not hope to cover everything, so this highlights report focuses on the contract furniture we saw and enjoyed.

Themes and Trends

With such a diverse range of exhibitors, it was harder than ever to pick out trends other than the introduction of numerous ‘me too’ products. So we’ve summarised our Best Showrooms, Best New Products, and Great British Design – and later, our own ‘A to Z’...

Best Showrooms

Alea

Alea have a lovely showroom over two floors with external balconies and great views. They have a comprehensive range of furniture products and are particularly flexible in range of finishes/materials and customisation. This year the showroom featured some glazed partitions that can be formed into self-contained/roofed meeting/office ‘pods’ –a hybrid of pod and partition – ‘podition’?

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Mark Product

Mark Product, not the biggest or flashiest showroom but nicely themed with a competition for ten design practices to ‘reinterpret’ Mark’s ‘Loops Armchair’. And Mark Products are British designed and manufactured, which can’t be bad.

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Creatif

Creatif is a brand-new showroom featuring a wide range of ‘creatif’ acoustic solutions from sliding space dividers and framed booths to more conventional ceiling and wall-mounted absorbers. And it was made fun with their own crazy golf course, constructed entirely from acoustic materials of course!

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Frovi

Frovi’s two floors were completely redesigned and repopulated –really capturing the spirit of working space that’s both functional and fun.

BUT - and it’s a big but – Frovi were not official participants, and those that have paid to participate in CDW may justifiably complain that we are including them. After much debate, we concluded that our job is to give an idea of ‘what went on’ at Clerkenwell for the benefit of those who could not attend.

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Best New Products

Frovi

Frovi followed their own creative ethos to develop unique and inspirational interior solutions, featuring a range of new products full of thoughtful details -yet somehow retaining cohesion with their existing ranges.

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Naava

Tucked away on Welltek Studios’ stand in Design Fields, Naava displayed a ‘living wall’ featuring full mechanical irrigation. This is a great way to provide green space division without some of the maintenance issues associated with multiple plant pots. Naavapoint out that their system also allows the plants’ roots to contribute to improved air quality in the working environment –apparently, roots have a greater oxygenating impact than leaves…

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Chat Pod

Chat Pod

Recently specified by Amazon, these Swiss people have great environmental credentials and ethics. The substrate of their pods is cardboard, with a layer of used car tyres providing acoustic insulation. 97% of the materials are recycled from first use, and manufacturing is undertaken by a disabled workforce. What great ambition –and there’s no compromise in quality, appearance or acoustic performance.

Silent Lab

This reddot award-winning telephone pod - the Microoffice Uniq - is the first we’ve seen with a glass roof. It looks great; somehow less claustrophobic than roofed versions –and it works demonstrably well, evidenced by near-silence with the door shut, despite noisy show conditions.

SilentLabprovide a comprehensive range of acoustic products. Hailing from the Czech Republic, we expect pricing to be competitive too.

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The Meeting Pod Co

We really enjoyed ‘podding’ with the passionate TMPC team –great to see their thoughtfulness in creating a pod designed for exterior spaces –what better way to extract value from your office? The external pod featured on the stand utilised composites and treated cork, so is completely weather-proof

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Great British Design

It was good to see that the CDW organisers had provided a home for British design in the Crypt at St James’s Church, where we saw some lovely pieces by Benchmark, Dare Studio, Ercol , and Forest & Maker. We were also impressed by Roger Lewis at Design Fields. (See A Z for details of all suppliers)

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Our A-Z

Actiu

Actiu used CDW 2019 to launch ‘Noom’- a new family of armchairs and lounge seating with wide-ranging configuration options. Actiu are an interesting company with options in almost every furniture category – consistently introducing new, often innovative, products.

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Aectual

Dutch manufacturer Aectual caught our eye with their tailor-made acoustic screens and flooring. A designer can submit any form of pattern which is then manufactured using state of the art large scale 3D printing. The possibilities are endless!

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Aeris

With their philosophy based on the principle of movement, Aerishas been encouraging movement in the workplace since the mid-90s long before excessive sitting became a health concern. With its patented technology, Swopperis arguably their most successful product, which enables you to move in every direction whilst the seat adapts itself to you –not vice versa.

Although not the most attractive seat, it was incredibly comfortable and supported you in all the ways you would imagine an industrial sized spring would.

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Alea / Luxy

Alea and seating partners Luxy typify Italian flair, with a willingness to embrace customers’ specific design requirements. Known for their huge selection of materials and finishes, we were also impressed by their new ‘Lato’ lockers and framed storage systems.

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Allermuir

Displaying their new product collaborations with Pearson Lloyd, Jonas Wagell and Benjamin Hubert, Allermuir was really settling into their new showroom. The most eye-catching piece would have to be the new addition to the Axyl range, a bench designed by Benjamin Hubert. Keeping much of the aesthetic of the chair and stool, seamless aluminium joints can be seen throughout the piece creating a beautiful profile.

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Assmann

Assmann are known for great quality in desks and storage systems. This year, they took us back in time with a look at some desks they had produced in every decade since the 60’s.

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Benchmark

Founded by Sean Sutcliffe and Terence Conran, this brand features wood working products with beautiful detailing and style. Sustainability is at the heart of their ethos, having achieved the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category twice.

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Chat Board

We met lovely MD Josefine Honoré who explained how her father came up with the idea of a magnetic glass board for her kitchen! From those small beginnings, Chat Board have become a producer of some of the finest marker boards around…

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Dare Studio

Always on our list to see at CDW is British manufacturer Dare Studio featured in the Crypt. We particularly liked their coffee tables and shelving. Where will they Dare to go next!

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DDB

We would call DDB a ‘bespoke manufacturer of technology-driven furniture’. We met slightly bonkers Inventor and Director Steve Brooks, who was warming his hands on one of his own infra-red heated desktops! These people are havesome seriously inventive ways of integrating technology and ergonomics.

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Ercol

Although a first at CDW, Ercol’s ability to continuously evolve and adapt with ever changing design and lifestyle’s is impressive. With great contemporary design the new product range can fit within your home or at work.

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Flokk

Refurbishing their showroom just in time for CDW, Flokk wanted to give much a bigger platform to Offecct to showcase its broad range of furniture. Acquired in 2017, Offecct had gone largely unnoticed in the Flokk portfolio mainly made up of task chairs, so it’s great to see some soft seating in the new bright and spacious setting.

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Forest & Maker

Located inside of the St James Church in Clerkenwell Green, this British collection of handcrafted wooden furniture instantly stood out. Forest & Maker have managed to hold that fine line between embracing natures imperfections yet crafting furniture which is still quite refined.

The natural timber allows users to have a greater connection to the natural world and like many other establishments we were happy to see Forest & Makers upmost mindfulness towards the environment and sustainability is at the forefront of their designs.

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Frovi

Although not officially a part of CDW this year Frovi really impressed with their showroom installation featuring the new concept design “Colony” a modular spacing system. With potentially numerous accessory options that can be adapted throughout the system, a user can create unique spaces that range from working office, botanical garden to meditation room. Frovi are really demonstrating how we can use space within space and that their furniture, with the right styling isn’t just office furniture.

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Guialmi

Wondering through the ‘Project’ exhibition we stumbled upon the Portuguese company Guialmi, what at first seemed to be a high back sofa like any other, we quickly discovered had an interesting design feature. Flexible panels that you could fold down allowed you to make a high, medium or low back sofa. We thought this brought an element of fun to an otherwise run of the mill product.

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Haiken

Another welcome addition to the Clerkenwell scene, we’re already working with Haiken; a new business run by ‘old hand’ Ashley Woolgar, incorporating WJ White. We knew they had one of the best sit/stand desks available, but for CDW they introduced the fabulously creative Noti seating ranges.

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Kinnarps

Having refurbished their showroom at the beginning of the year, Kinnarps were keen to make an impression, and they did not disappoint. The vibrant space is very open, colourful and natural. They are also a leading supplier for substantiality, their Swedish culture feeding into the design and materials used throughout the product range.

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Mark Product - The Power of 10

Celebrating 10 full years within Clerkenwell Design Week, Mark Products set a competition bringing together the design community, which really seemed quite powerful within itself. Once we arrived to vote for our favorite design, we were welcomed by an overflow of colour and with themes varying from Pianos Factories, Coffee Capsules, to Concrete, Poems and many more. Though, one thing almost all designs had in common is the immense focus on sustainability, we were happy to see this is what led the chair designs.

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Meeting Pod Co

Meeting Pod Co

Very distinctive, TMPC Pods are far removed from most of the ‘boxes’ out there. It was nice to see how they were considering outside space with creative, weather-proof finishes. Their website features a handy ‘configurator’ so you can get seriously creative with the options.

Naava

Naavadisplayed a ‘living wall’ featuring full mechanical irrigation. This is a great way to provide green space division without some of the maintenance issues associated with multiple plant pots. Naavapoint out that their system also allows the plants’ roots to contribute to improved air quality in the working environment –apparently, roots have a greater oxygenating impact than leaves…

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Ondaretta

Since inheriting their name after one of the most beautiful beaches in San Sebastian, Ondarettas finishes are equally as seamless and smooth.

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Piaval

New (to us), Piaval is an Italian wood chair specialist. Some pieces stood out more than others; for us it was the superb, sculptured, three-legged ‘Herringbone’ chair in figured walnut solids.

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Roger Lewis

Roger Lewis

To mark its 30th anniversary, Roger Lewis leading British Furniture designer and maker has revealed an industry first at CDW! Its new bespoke product offers, ‘The Customizer app’ which combines progressive technology with artistry allowing the creative community to produce truly tailored pieces for their clients.

This new Customizer app enables designers to create their own artwork which will then be printed onto fabric before being upholstered to the Roger Lewis Sintra chair, the results were every bit as imaginative as we had hoped.

Silent Lab

Giving us the Silent treatment with the Micro office range, Silent Lab’s line of acoustic workstations and conference rooms are great. however, the new UniqPod is by far our favorite, three words … slick acoustic comfort.

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Sixteen3

Sixteen3

Honourable mention to Sixteen3 for having a great stand this year, displaying lots of colour and texture with the Calvert system that was launched in 2018. New accessories were on show such as the moss wall and glass boards.

Skinflint

Featured within Mark Product, Skinflint lit up the showroom. What seemed like ordinary lighting at first with further interest we discovered they were vintage, dating back to almost 90 years and from various locations all around the world! All historic vintage pieces are recovered and restored at Skinflint. One thing that makes this that little more fascinating is that every vintage light found comes along with a unique story to tell.

In the words of Skinflint –‘The next chapter in each lights story is up to you’…

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Zaha Hadid

The iconic showroom was open to visitors throughout CDW for their ‘Shaping Reality Through Time’ exhibit with Fritz Hansen. We really enjoyed the inspiring talk between Fritz Hansen head of design, Christian Andresen and Zaha Hadid Architects head of interiors, Kar-Hwa Ho.

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If you would like any more information, or have any comments regarding any items mentioned in this report, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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