10 Years of Clerkenwell Design Week

Do you want to go to a three-day birthday party, complete with visual spectacles, glorious goodie bags and a chance to meet up with old friends? The party will be taking place in late May in London and will draw in visitors from around the world.

Perhaps you’re already going – if so, we’ll see you there...

We are, of course, talking about the number one event of the design and fit out sector, Clerkenwell Design Week.

The award-winning design festival has previously won the No 1 UK event on the Dezeen Hot List in 2016 award as well as the Best UK Tradeshow at The AEO Awards 2016. In 2017, over two-thirds of CDW’s visitors were Architects and Designers, proving that the little hub of Clerkenwell is the space creatives flock to for inspiration.

So, to celebrate CDW’s momentous anniversary, join us in exploring ten years’ worth of innovative design, unique displays and headline moments that stole the show in years gone by. 



According to Clerkenwell Design Week, last year’s street exhibition attracted over 34,000 visitors for over 70 countries, with 90 design showrooms and pop-ups opening their doors and entertaining people.

Last year embraced a new ‘Elements’ exhibition on St. John’s Square that explored designer accessories such as light switches and door handles that would help accompany the perfect fit out. Meanwhile, the ‘Detail’ exhibition focused on textures, surfaces and luxurious attention to detail, showcasing that the finer points can have a massive effect on a fit out.

‘Project’ returned for its second year, displaying craftsmanship by way of furniture, lighting and surface brands. British design resurfaced in the popular ‘British Collection’ and featured some of the best talents from the United Kingdom. While located in Clerkenwell Prison – or the ‘House of Detention’ as it’s more commonly known - was the Platform exhibition, which provided space to exhibit works from new, creative talent.

The ‘Design Fields’ exhibition returned for its third year, promoting international creativity and design and the ‘Light’ showcase featured – you guessed it – an array of spectacular light installations housed within the famous Fabric nightclub. As always the organisers of Clerkenwell Design Week put on ‘CDW Presents’, a collection of breath-taking and often interactive art displays that were dotted throughout Clerkenwell.

Highlights of Clerkenwell Design Week 2018 also included the pink steel tubes providing a limited time only rest for passers-by (‘Pipe Line’ by Lou Corio Randall) and Chelsea College of Art’s tote bag printing service.


In 2017, The Museum of London was one of the ‘Fringe’ partners, providing themed walks on the past, present and future of Clerkenwell. Transport for London (TfL) also got involved with the party by making 13 bespoke brooches, all with an Underground-inspired theme.

Yet again, CDW offered its visitors an immersive experience, encouraging participants to see how design interacts people and the wider world through the installation of a number of tactile displays.



For the seventh edition of Clerkenwell Design Week, Giles Miller guided attendees through a display of undulating glass billboards. The interactive – and awe-inspiring – construction was a hit with all who experienced it.

The ‘Museum of Making’ pavilion popped up in 2016, enabling visitors to participate in workshops such as pendant punching and other alliterative exercises. Billed as a ‘deconstructed barn structure’, the pop-up manufacturing area also showcased modern designer’s crafts as well as a number of items loaned from the nearby Museum of London.


The 2015 version hosted eight main exhibitions, including ‘Icons House of Culture’ that made its debut at The Old Sessions House on Clerkenwell Green.

Cousins & Cousins manufactured a bright and translucent glass pavilion that took inspiration from glass Venetian sweets, making everybody’s mouth water in the process...


Visitors to this pavilion were also invited to draw on the glass and leave messages, turning the stand into one fully interactive – and evolving – art display.

Attendees also had the option of taking a ten-minute nap in the pop-up ‘sleeperies’. Created by Hassell and Draisci Studio, the sleeping pods were made out of a sturdy fabric and were based in a darkened room, complete with ambient lighting and gentle music in the background. And of course, technology was banned.


Jaguar sponsored CDW for the fifth year in 2014 and the event featured numerous engaging art installations such as ‘The Tile Mile’, a series of parallel mirrors that reflected a beautifully arranged and colourful tile floor to create the sense of an infinite, repeating pattern.

2014 also marked William Knight’s debut as the show director, while guest speakers included Ron Arad, Patricia Urquiola and Sir Peter Cook.


In 2013, Design Week presented Mobile Studio’s ‘The Mirare Maze Folly’, an art piece that delighted spectators with a modern take on a garden maze. Thankfully to our knowledge, nobody got lost while exploring it!

Also, four ‘Huts’ – Red, Green, Water and Remakery -were created by Architecture for Humanity to explore how we can create a more sustainable future through architecture and design. The Red Hut made out of textiles, the Green Hut out of edible plants, while the Water Hut was kitted with water-filled piping and the Remakery Hut made use of materials from the Brixton Remakery Centre.



In 2012, a tiny red travelling theatre made its way to Clerkenwell. Able to fit in an audience of six, the pop-up coal-themed stage was inspired by the salesman Thomas Britton who made a miniature concert hall above his own coal shed

Headline sponsor Jaguar also got in on the act, with the luxury can manufacturer using a clay modeller to demonstrate how the various stages of a designer's sketch evolve, transforming them into 3D models.


One spectacular art piece from CDW 2011 was the life-sized pin art machine that enabled visitors to press their body against softened nails to create an outline of their body shape – or, rather, their alter ego.

The event also played host to 150 talks, events and presentations and over 24,000 people came along, immediately propelling the design festival to the forefront of the industry media’s ‘must-attend’ lists.


Over 60 showrooms opened their doors during Clerkenwell Design Week’s second year. Alongside the industry showrooms, Tom Dixon launched a variety of lights made out of different metallic substances and the designers Giles Miller, Alexena Cayless and Freddie Yauner all took part in a ‘Designers in Residence on Tour’ event that connected visitors with the three personalities.


It all began in 2009 yet, unfortunately, little is known about the inaugural event. Some say it was a spectacular occasion, others say it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. And we’ve even heard rumours that attendees were sworn to secrecy, as not to make those who didn’t go too jealous.

What we do know is that the first ever Clerkenwell Design week was a roaring success and laid the platform for future years.

Creatif is delighted to once again open its doors throughout Clerkenwell Design Week. Pop along and visit our Workspace Wellness Hub at 79 Clerkenwell Road from 21-23 May 2019.

*All pictures: www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com