There is only one event to visit in east London next week where you can see the latest cutting-edge designs for free. It’s Clerkenwell Design Week, of course. It began as an annual celebration of design five years ago, but it has now transformed into a leading independent festival, with group shows, product launches, installations, talks, walks and workshops.
But if you want to soak up everything it has to offer, you’ll need to be quick, because it only lasts three days — from Tuesday until Thursday. Register for free entry to the show.
The venues are an added bonus. This clutch of historic buildings housing about 80 showrooms is in an area saturated with medieval history.
Make a start in St John’s Square, with its stunning pop-up pavilion of coloured glass. Then dip into Priory Church at the Order of St John monastery. Here you will find 35 booths for high-end furnishings, including rugs, furniture and wallpapers. Draw breath in the beautiful secret garden at the back, and gear up to see more with a glass of bubbly from the bar.
Next, visit the Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green. It’s a fabulous 18th-century former courthouse, with top interiors brands filling a warren of rooms. At the medieval St John’s Gate, you will find under the arch a cocoon-like sculpture of woven, steam-bent hardwood designed and made by artist Laura Ellen Bacon and London woodworker Sebastian Cox. They’ve called this centrepiece The Invisible Store of Happiness.
Finally, there is the Farmiloe Building, once home to a Victorian glassworks, with an entrance now decorated by Johnson Tiles. This — the “Design Factory” — is the largest show of the lot, with about 75 designers and brands crammed into a warren of rooms and steps. Take a break at the Leica Café, and browse a shopping arcade of designer goodies.
See Danish craftsman in action at the new Carl Hansen & Søn showroom at 16A Bowling Green Lane EC1.
Retreat into felt “hammocks” in the Hypnos installation by Francesco Draisci, and/or book a “nidra” session, the yoga that’s like sleep, with Sto Werkstatt, 7-9 Woodbridge Street EC1.
Shop at Look Like Love: a pop-up for new grads from Wednesday to Saturday.