Tom Dixon's Curve lights feature inside St James' Church
Tom Dixon's Curve lights feature inside St James' Church

Clerkenwell Design Week: Who and what to look out for from terracotta lamps to neon vases

Now in its seventh year the festival has introduced a new exhibition, the British Collection, showing off the best in design from Britain

Emma Henderson
Monday 23 May 2016 16:37

Renovating an old-world trade area of London, where clocks were traditionally made and jewellers thrived, is Clerkenwell Design Week. Now in its seventh year, CDW has doubled in size since 2015 and is full of exhibitions, talks and workshops, showcasing the best in all things creative and design.

Worthy of its location, Clerkenwell is home to more than 200 architect companies and about 80 contemporary furniture showrooms, and houses more creative businesses than anywhere else in the world. Stretching from Farringdon road in the west towards Goswell Road to the east, the festival has eight exhibition venues, each “reflecting the ever-changing nature of EC1,” says William Knight, the show director. “

We’ve picked out some of our favourite highlights of the festival.

The Platform venue, set inside the vaults of a Victorian prison, will showcase 40 up and coming designers including Laura Lea Design, an east London all-female collective of designers and creators. We Are The Women will exhibit home wares, jewellery and soft furnishings.

Archie uses gold leaf in his traditional sign painting

Traditional hand-painting sign designer Archie Proudfoot, who sold his first piece to Laura Lea Design, has spent the past two years revitalising the craftsmanship. The 19th-century venue’s backdrop of exposed bricks and arched ceilings is the perfect canvas his work. “As I'm exhibiting inside a 19th-century prison cell I thought ‘A Gilded Cage’ was an appropriate title. The walls of the cell will be covered with my pieces, which combine gold-leaf, glass and steel frames to reify a single word or phrase,” says Proudfoot. He’ll also be showcasing his first piece of furniture at the festival, a coffee table, which breathes contemporary life into classic lettering in its design.

Featuring the best of home-grown talent, the new exhibition addition for 2016 is the British Collection, found in the Crypt on the Green inside St James’ Church.

Hand and Eye Studio will debut their terracotta pendant lamps at CDW

British designer Tom Dixon, committed to reviving British furniture, will install a chandelier from his Materiality collection inside the 18th-century church. Collaborating with the church’s vicar, Andrew Baughen – who saw the potential of the space – the chandelier is made from 25 curved pendant lights, a new product that was launched in Milan last month. The geometrical lights push the boundaries of thin etched metal sheets, which emit a filtered glow of ethereal light.

Taz Pollard will be showing her new neon ceramics

Also in the British Collection and showing for the first time is Hand and Eye Studio’s on trend terracotta lamps. Using terracotta is a trend of the moment and these are hand made in the UK and use subtle white glazing to contrast the natural warm hues created by the kiln.

Clerkenwell based designer Jennifer Newman designs furniture to be used both inside and outside

Perfect timing for summer is Taz Pollard’s accessories and homeware ceramic collection. As a winner of the 2014 New Designers One Year On award, she uses bold colours as her trademark and most recently focuses on neons, which feature on her vases. Inspired by working with Gillian Ayres, she uses rubber stitching in her design and says she plans to "keep pushing the boundaries with my use of colour and material". Known for her brightly coloured outside furniture, Jennifer Newman – based in Clerkenwell – is bringing her outside furniture inside with simple multi-use solutions following the trend of furniture for both spaces. While the carefully considered and practice designers, Very Good & Proper, will debut the new Dowel Table, Rail and the Wedge Shelf, designed by Felix de Pass.

A prototype of Benjamin's wheelchair that he will show at CDW

But one of the most exciting launches during the weekend event is British Industrial designer Benjamin Hubert’s 3D-printed wheelchair. The mad- to-measure consumer chair is the world’s first of its kind and is the result of a two- year project from Huebert’s London studio, Layer. The chair aims to improve the quality of life for the user by using their biometric information.

Clerkenwell Design Week starts tomorrow: formore information at

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