CDW, now in its 12th edition, will return to EC1 London between 23 – 25 May 2023. Taking place across the whole of Clerkenwell, a neighbourhood renowned for its high concentration of architects and designers, the festival is set to offer its biggest programme yet – featuring more than 600 events and, for the first time, merging with its sister show, Design London.

CDW 2023 sees a total of 12 exhibition venues across Clerkenwell including Design Fields, Contract, Light, Project, Elements, British Collection, Detail, Platform, Ceramics of Italy, Old Sessions House (the festival hub), and two new additions – Catapult and The Garden. While these unique venues will present over 300 design brands and emerging talent covering furniture, kitchens and bathrooms, materials and surfaces, textiles, decorative accessories, and lighting, an extensive network of more than 130 local showroom partners will host product launches, workshops and talks over the three days of the festival.

Architecture goes inflatable

Headlining this year’s CDW 2023 Presents programme is a specially commissioned installation by British artist, Steve Messam – who exhibits internationally and is well known for his large-scale, inflatable artwork reimagining our everyday surroundings. At the festival, the County Durham-based artist will bring his distinctive public art – sponsored by 3D design software company, SketchUp – to St John’s Gate of the Order of St John. This site-specific piece, titled Gateway and measuring 6m (height) by 15.5m (length), will feature 27 giant spikes hand-sewn in a striking blue textile.

“Gateway offers a dynamic and unforgettable sensory experience,” says Messam. “While the spikes tower above the public as they pass through the gate, the bespoke piece traces the internal space between the arches before bursting out beyond the bounds of the building.”

In addition to Gateway, visitors will have the opportunity to experience Messam’s artistic treatment of the iconic telephone boxes – sponsored by Budvar. K6, originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for the coronation of George V in 1935, is one of the most recognised telephone boxes; while K2 – also designed by Scott in 1924 – was the first national telephone box, many of which were initially installed in Clerkenwell. Spread over three locations, the former is located on Cowcross Street, and the latter can be found on Clerkenwell Road as well as outside St James’s Church.

Sustainability is the norm

Creating a more sustainable way of living – from biodiversity to reduce-reuse-recycle – remains a key subject matter for many design manufacturers and makers. Using modern technology and the latest research, many explore and propose new ways to challenge the status quo while tackling these industry-wide issues with a global outlook.

CDW PLP
SYMBIOCENE LIVING: Mycelium Building Block by PLP Architecture

Part of CDW 2023 Presents series, SYMBIOCENE LIVING

Mycelium Building Block is an interpretive, artistic mycelium installation that encourages the public to engage with fungi architecture. While the modular feature is made of mycelium blocks with a 3D printed timber shell, the blocks – each similar in size to a watermelon – will be arranged to create a different formation incorporating abstract seating and towers ­on each day of the festival.

Set to be situated outside Clerkenwell & Social on St John’s Square, this one-off installation is designed by East London-based PLP Architecture – which has produced some of the world’s greenest and most intelligent designs.

Above (from left): Terra Firma edible landscape by Heiter X; Old Sessions House, CDW’s festival hub and home to Terra Firma

Old Sessions House

Over at Old Sessions House, Heiter X – a sustainable food design studio founded by Estonia-based Helis Heiter – will launch its first collection of sculptural tableware in collaboration with Krohwin. Crafted using traditional building techniques and 3D clay printing technology, the Mound Collection is made from raw clay and natural carnauba wax – as well as repurposed food industry waste including buckwheat and hemp shells. The collection symbolises the mounds of food wasted every day, serving as a visual reminder of the need for more conscious consumption.

Above (from left): Recork x Sugo Cork Rugs; Hit the North cork wallpaper by The Monkey Puzzle Tree

Launched in 2022, Kent-based Recork (Project) specialises in stylish cork flooring made from 85% natural cork, harvested from trees grown in well-managed cork oak Montado. According to the eco-conscious company, it is the only one on the market that takes raw material from the Portuguese oak forests and turns production waste used for stoppers – as well as cork from early harvests – into flooring planks. Recork’s stand at CDW will feature its latest rug collection – made entirely from sustainably sourced cork, wool and cotton – in partnership with Portuguese brand Sugo Cork Rugs.

Founded by former textile buyer Charlotte Raffo, The Monkey Puzzle Tree (Light) celebrates the best of creativity and eccentricity from the North of England – by collaborating with Yorkshire artists to locally design and produce fabrics and wallpapers. At CDW 2023, the independent business will showcase its Modernist-inspired wallpaper, Hit The North, featuring artwork by graphic artist Drew Millward printed onto sustainable Portuguese cork.

Above (from left): Marino armchair by Ercol; Graphenstone 2023 paints; Segment fabric by Kirkby Design

Other highlights to look out for include:

  • Ercol (British Collection) – Its Marino chair will be relaunched at the festival in sustainable homegrown British timber – as part of its latest partnership with Grown in Britain (GiB);
  • Graphenstone (Contract) – The brand will present its Ambient Pro+ and Grafclean paint ranges made from natural mineral ingredients and graphene fibres;
  • Kirkby Design (Detail) – The home furnishing specialist will introduce Segment, a new collection of hand-painted graphics digitally printed onto 100% recycled cotton sourced from the fashion industry, as well as new wallcoverings printed on a blended ground of FSC-certified wood pulp and corn fibre;
  • Morph (Project) – Set up in 2021, the British company manufactures injection moulded hollow bricks – made from 100% recycled plastic – with a connection system that can create walls, desks, tables and tiered seating. At CDW, it will launch Morph Bio, a new carbon-negative range made from biocomposite material and available in multiple colours;
  • AllSfär (Project) – The UK-based acoustic expert is known for its products made with at least 60% recycled PET, with each panel produced using the equivalent of 280 recycled plastic bottles. Expect to see its new wall surface, Fika, at the festival;
  • Parkside (Showroom) – Its newly launched Sequel Principle will be a key highlight – a recycled composite tile consisting of over 91% recycled content; in particular, unwanted materials from the ceramic and glass industry locally sourced in Spain; and
  • Vepa (Showroom) – The sustainable furniture manufacturer from the Netherlands will open its new showroom and sustainability education centre at 45 Gee Street during CDW, and show the full colour range of its Felt seating – made from PET plastic bottles – for the first time in the UK.

Modern craft perseveres

Our enduring love for the craft as seen in recent years shows no signs of slowing down. The UK continues to lead the way in championing the best talent and finest craftsmanship – and visitors to this year’s CDW will not be disappointed by the eclectic mix of independent makers and businesses this country has to offer.

Above (from left): Notch folding chair by Kostas Synodis, Walnut media unit by Koda & Wave chandelier by Curiousa;

Greek-born, London-based furniture designer and sculptor Kostas Synodis (Platform) will join the festival for the first time. Thee newcomer will exhibit a new foldable low deckchair. Made from three pieces of veneer plywood cut out of the same panels to minimise material use, Notch is inspired by an African palaver chair but reimagined in a more contemporary approach.

Now in its 12th year, Curiousa (Light) is renowned for its bespoke hand-blown glass lighting made in its Derbyshire-based old mill studio. At CDW, the brand will present its new Wave chandelier – designed by its founder Esther Patterson – featuring five hand-formed glass vessels threaded onto beams of light.

Run by husband and wife, Jamie Hoyle and Katherine Mathew, Koda (British Collection) designs and makes bespoke furniture – by hand – in its studio and workshop in Yorkshire. The 10-year-old business will bring its ergonomic height-adjustable walnut desk – an elegant reimagination of a traditional writing desk – as well as its walnut media unit to the festival this May.

Also led by a husband-and-wife duo, Joel and Helena Haran, Cornwall-based Studio Haran (Light) specialises in lighting and furniture with sustainability at its core. Its founders work closely with a team of local skilled craftspeople to produce slip-cast ceramics and woodwork; some of which – including the Dawn pendant and wall light – will be on show at CDW.

Fibre artist Livi Hecht of London-based Knot My Name will display her contemporary artwork at Platform. Using eco-friendly materials, Hecht produces handmade macramé products and made-to-order pieces. Another one to watch at Platform is Timber Robot Studio – set up by Philip Gay in 2022. A former propmaker from the film industry, Gay retrained in fine woodwork in 2021 before starting his furniture and homeware business. At CDW, he will showcase his latest handmade designs – including an Art Deco-inspired chest made from solid ash and rippled ash veneer.

Meanwhile, over at Detail, interior architects and founders of Ziba Homes, Mitali Bansal and Ria Chhabra, will launch three new pieces of furniture – an exquisite collection of patterns curated using a wide range of materials and handcrafted techniques. One of them is the Emerald Envy malachite console combined with ash wood and wicker – which will be on show alongside a coordinating set of home accessories. Also at Detail is Holmes Bespoke – founded by Laylah Holmes – which will debut its new range of handcrafted rugs and runners exclusively at CDW 2023.

The outdoors is calling

Lighter, warmer days are just around the corner – and this year’s CDW returns with another exciting line-up of outdoor furniture launches.

A long-term supporter of the festival, Clerkenwell-based Jennifer Newman Studio will have an installation in St John’s Square focusing on outdoor terrace products – all made in London – and is set to reintroduce its classic Alfresco bench and Huddle table at the festival. At Detail, Italian company Ethimo will present its 2023 collection including the in-house designed Bold table, as well as a series of concrete vases – named Bulbi – by Studiopepe.

While British company Case Furniture at Groupwork in Clerkenwell Green will display its Eos outdoor collection by Matthew Hilton, its Danish counterpart, Norr11 (Showroom) will launch the new outdoor editions of its popular Studio sofa and Hippo lounge chair at CDW 2023.

Internationally renowned, CDW has long established itself as a major platform for both established and emerging design businesses to showcase their latest innovations and forward-thinking ideas.

“After more than a decade of championing design excellence and launching the career of many young talents, CDW has cemented itself as a global design destination and one of the most important events among the architecture and design community,” says Marlon Cera-Marle, design division director of Media 10.

“We’re thrilled to be back with an even bigger line-up, including some of the industry’s most dominant figures. From thought-provoking installations to exciting new names and product innovation, we look forward to bringing an abundance of creativity and world-class content to the heart of Clerkenwell this May.”

The 12th edition of Clerkenwell Design Week takes place across EC1, London from 23 – 25 May 2023. For more information, please visit clerkenwelldesignweek.com.

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