Journal: 23 May 2018

Drawing inspiration – Clerkenwell Design Week 2018.

I love East London, it feels like home. It really comes alive and is awash of colour during Clerkenwell Design Week.



A lot has changed since my last CDW visit, two years ago.

Nor–Folk has transitioned from ‘just’ a shop, to a journal (and me developing a professional photography portfolio), to being just a month from owning a 1920’s cedar riverside boat house (in much need of some TLC).

The ‘Water Cabin’ as we’re fondly describing it, is going to be our escape to the country as well as an opportunity for others to book it for a stay. I hoped that I’d draw some inspiration walking around Clerkenwell – I sure did!



Based on previous visits, I was confident I’d discover new designers and makers.

What I hadn’t accounted for was just how inspired I’d be professionally.

I was fortunate enough to have been part of a tour by the chair of CDW, Max Fraser. As always, sustainability is at the core. During the tour, the respective designers and Max talked us through their work. We were enlightened how polystyrene, a nasty necessity in packaging, can be returned to the manufacturer for re-purposing, which I for one, was unaware of.



There was a strong theme of education.

Print Club London were screen-printing unused tote bags. Often seen as the alternative to the plastic bag, they are in abundance. Studies have concluded one tote bag would have to be used every day of the year to claw back the energy consumption from the manufacturing. So rather than filling landfill the bags were being re-printed with five designs selected from Chelsea College of Art graphic design students.



Being a graphic design graduate, I was drawn to the geometric installations and forms, particularly ‘A Piece of Sky’. I also enjoyed the playful Elizabethan inspired ruff on St John’s Gate, the supposed site of Shakespeare’s plays.

Pipeline, seen in several of my pictures, are a series of contemporary pieces of street furniture, made of one continuous piece of steel tube (in CDW pink) that appears to enter the ground and re-appear. Above was a multifunctional piece that was both a ‘short stay’ bench and bike rack.



Hakwood collaborated with Shape London to create a pop up street scene of tall town houses located at the entrance to Spa Fields. Titled ‘Behind Closed Doors’ a series of miniature interiors designed by various architects are positioned at differing heights to encourage visitors to interact and discover all the rooms.



I thankfully chanced upon a ‘conversation’ with Fredrikson Stallard and Max Fraser. Here the avant garde designers/artists honestly discussed their approach to their practise. Loud and clear I heard the phrase ‘take risks and follow your instincts’. Several anecdotes including their project and belief in their own work with Swarovski really resonated with me.

Before returning home, I attended the Dezeen Elevation premier about drones. I’m a documentary film enthusiast and being a photographer, drones are part of my language. AI is also a subject that interests and concerns me in equal measures! So without divulging anymore, I’d encourage you to watch the short film, it’s certainly sparked conversation.




Even after a good 12 hours of meandering around CDW there was still more I wanted to see. Thanks to Isomi, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about rolled steel (for the Water Cabin) and thanks to Fredrikson Stallard, I’ve returned home excited to develop the plans I’ve been working on.

Today is the final day of CDW 2018. But I look forward to returning same time, next year.



Read more about Clerkenwell Design Week.

Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.


Share this post via: