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Reflecting on Clerkenwell Design Week 2019

So another year has come and gone and this year’s Clerkenwell Design Festival was no exception. The streets around EC1 and WC1 were paved with the pink-ribboned pathways and this year, Decade Beacons highlighted almost every corner to mark ten years of the event.

So whilst it already seems like a distant memory, what were our key highlights and takeaways from the event.

Sustainable Living

Threading its way through many of the exhibitors was the theme of sustainability - a (thankfully) hot topic in the design world at the moment. From Roddy Clarke’s thought-provoking talk on Sustainability at our client Parkside’s Design Studio through to interiors like the eye-catching Pluck Kitchens, it was great to see conversations being sparked around the subject.


More certainly needs to be done to ensure designers are reducing waste and where needed, using leftover resources for other work like Marble Partners, Alusid and One Nine Eight Five who featured in the talk but it felt this year like many had woken up to the design challenge and are now ensuring their work has longevity and is consciously designed for sustainability.

Image courtesy of Sarel Jansen Architecture

Image courtesy of Sarel Jansen Architecture

Finding a work/life balance for the future

Barber and Osgerby recently spoke about the changing face of the workplace and it was interesting to see, particularly at Project, this idea being interpreted in design. We spoke at length to Agilita who have designed furniture for a more fluid workspace, where conversations can happen informally thanks to furniture that is both thoughtfully designed and practical.

Right: The Nap Chair by Agilita at Project


We noticed lots of green space in the office designs which we’re big fans of in our own office, with natural materials, plenty of plants and neutral tones. With flexible working on the rise and people using the office as a place to sit and chat rather than have designated desk spaces to house your gym gear!

We also joined Katie Treggiden, Trifle Creative, Innocent and MVF Global on Designing a Human Centric Workspace which was thought-provoking and engaging.


We attended a very interesting talk hosted by Max Fraser on Creating Homes of the Future with Catherin Walczyk from Universal Design Studio and Neal Shah from Greystar European Holdings. They are currently involved in the regeneration of the Greenwich Peninsula. Whilst the scale of the project is not to be underestimated, they spoke at length about the need to create a community and not just a place to reside. They have built heating systems that are harnessing technology to ensure they have self-contained supplies and are creating schools, galleries and shopping experiences to make this a destination, not just a group of flats without soul.

These sorts of builds aren’t without their challenges of course, but it was fascinating to hear how they approach a build that takes 10+ years to create.

To keep conversations going for 10 years is no mean feat. However, we liked the way discussions at this year’s festival were heading. There is still much to be done when it comes to sustainable design and designing for a better future but we leave you with a quote from Roddy Clarke who said:

“The design industry...We have the power to actually start the conversations. That's a responsibility that lies with us. That's what leads to systemic change”.

We hope this is just that - the start of the conversation - and we look forward to seeing next year, where that is going to take us.

Christina Clarke