Home / Design / Celebrating creativity

Celebrating creativity

Anna King with the highlights of Clerkenwell Design Week 2023: A celebration of creativity from around the world

As Clerkenwell Design Week came to a close this year, it was time to reflect on what had been three days showcasing the best of the built environment, from buzzy manufacturers’ showrooms, architects throwing open their doors to other happenings in and around pockets of EC1.

Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) has always been a great opportunity to discover cutting edge designs and concepts from all over the world – and this year was no different. With a new record turnout of 35,000 visitors including a significant international presence, the show was the ideal setting for industry professionals to network and connect with people from various sectors. With more than 130 showrooms, 10 exhibition venues and 200 exhibitors to visit, there was something for everyone.

Naturally, a key highlight was the array of contemporary designs in the renowned Old Sessions House. Originally built as a courthouse and referenced in Dickens’ Oliver Twist, this centuries-old space has been refurbed to create a beautiful backdrop for all things design, with exposed plasterwork, aged stone, arched windows, and breath-taking chandeliers. The Grade II Listed building housed many showstopping brands, such as Humanscale, CLESOM, Dyson and KI, giving visitors the opportunity to explore and seek inspiration from their surroundings.

USM, a Swiss family-run business since 1855, had a strong focus on the “durability, versatility and timeless design” of its products. As a modular furniture system, USM can be continuously remoulded and reshaped to fit into different environments and spaces, giving that ultimate sense of modularity.


For CDW this year, at its showroom on Central Street, USM hosted a panel discussion for the book Office Shock – Creating Better Futures for Working and Living. The panel included the book’s Co-Author Joseph Press, Colin Macgadie, Chief Executive Officer at Hubl and USM’s own Ian Weddell. With a packed showroom, the discussion looked at the future of the office and what a post-COVID workplace could and should look like.

As leading designers and manufacturer of high-performance ergonomic furniture, Humanscale’s main driver is to improve the comfort of our work lives. With a prime position in Old Sessions House, CDW provided Humanscale with the perfect platform to showcase its design process. One of the main focuses was showcasing the newest addition to its ergonomic chair collection: the Path chair, designed by Todd Bracher. Path is the world’s most sustainable and inclusive task chair on the market, adapting to all body types without users having to make manual adjustments. The chair contains almost 22lbs of recycled materials, mostly made up of plastic bottles and ocean plastic. The textile options for this chair are from ‘Eco Knit’ which is made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled polyester.

A prominent theme displayed around Clerkenwell was nature. It was apparent that the use of woods, natural textures and materials had proved popular amongst many designers, pushing the boundaries of sustainability and what it means to connect with the natural world on a deeper level. Highlights included the work of furniture manufacturers Ercol and Dare.

British manufacturer Ercol, which has its manufacturing base just over 90 minutes away from London, uses sustainably sourced ash and oak timber for its chair legs with all wood sourced in Europe and the US. Ercol likes to focus on the natural progression of the tree itself as these inherent features give variations of grain and colour, making each piece of wood unique.

Established in 2009 by designer Sean Dare, the company that bears his surname has a mission to “create beautiful pieces of furniture which become an important element of the space they occupy”. Many of Dare’s collections are manufactured with timber frames and has achieved a ‘Chain of Custody Certification’, which verifies that the timber gathered for products is checked at every stage of processing to meet all standards of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

About Sarah OBeirne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *