By: Alice Finney
Hey, what’s the big idea?
It’s probably the most talked about event in the architecture and design calendar. Anyone who’s anyone is there. And this year, as if to honour to the week, and just in time for showroom doors to open, the sun decided to show its glorious beaming face.
Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) is a three-day long showcase of leading brands and companies presented in a series of showroom events, exhibitions and talks. Drawing crowds of thousands across the week, the event is a landmark in A&D circles. It has become a tribute to the capital’s thirst for innovation and creativity. And there’s something for everyone” it’s a chance for exhibitors to demonstrate new trends and products; for attendees to learn and question their environment and for everyone to appreciate the astonishing design that surrounds them.
Paint the town green
Biophillia. It’s a word you are no doubt bound to have heard countless times over the past year or so. As with many workplace “trends” there is a danger that it may become just that – a fad, a craze which is in danger of becoming extinct.
Yet, CDW proved that this is definitely not the case. An abundance of greenery filled the city for the three days. Stalls exhibiting office plants, green walls and water fountains were commonplace, as were natural materials like wood and stone. Bloomon even gave out free bouquets of flowers on the third day to attendees who were willing to brave the mile-long queue.
Many talks and discussions stemmed around the subject. The standout talk in my opinion was given by Oliver Heath. Despite being hosted (rather ironically) in the heated basement of Interface’s showroom, the talk was one that pushed the debate in new directions for me. Since I have been writing, reading and hearing about biophillia since I started working at Magenta, this is no easy feat.
Due to extensive research on the subject, I was already aware of the benefits of biophillic design – benefits such as improving patients waiting room time, helping children in school to learn faster, reducing absenteeism rates among employees and improving general mental health and wellbeing. And while these statistics are impressive, I was eager to learn something new about sustainable design.
In addition to these stats, Heath introduced us to Savanna theory and how this has been applied to modern architecture. Shopping centres like Westfield have created beams and panels which mimic tree structures, while the addition of water fountains take us back to the waterfalls and fountains found in forests and woods. He also went on teach us about non-rhythmic sensory stimuli, something i had never previously heard of. This stimuli is created by objects or materials in consistent yet unpredictable motion. Such stimuli can be seen in many forms of natural motion, the reflections from water or the sway of grasses for example – ever changing but ever the same. Heath highlighted how this is used in the fish tanks that sit in your dentists’ waiting room, in a modest effort to calm your nerves and make you feel less anxious. His understanding of the intricacies of sustainable environment were what made his talk so noteworthy.
Finally, and going down a totally different root (excuse the pun) was Geo Fleur. The Stratford based botanical styling company gave a quick talk on how to care and maintain office plants and how to go about finding the right plants for you space. As instructed by the passionate-about-plants speaker, I went away knowing that the majority of us over water our plants and that this is the most common cause of their demise.
Looking back at office design with Helen Parton
Held in the uber funky Fora – what the Evening Standard termed “Boutique hotel-style offices launch for those put off by hipster co-working”, the editor of On Office magazine Helen Parton took us on a crash course on office design.
Drawing on the diverse On Office magazine covers and her own book which focuses on the same subject, Helen highlighted what has drastically changed throughout office history and what has steadfastly stayed the same. Personally, I found Helen’s exploration of the economic crash of 2008 and its effects on both her personal life (she had decided to go freelance a month before the crash) and the A&D world riveting and novel.
Our PR project
This year, Magenta were lucky enough to partner with Umbrella Furniture and Wagstaff in their showroom in the heart of Clerkenwell. They are located at 9 Brewhouse Yard, in a courtyard opposite Camira fabrics. Their showroom had been transformed into a design museum exploring over a century of architecture and office design. Central to the exhibition was a 1920s Gatsby-themed bar which was replete with gold and black decor, a vintage record player booming out Glen Miller and jazzy rum cocktails.
The Magenta team had been tasked with promoting the showroom over the 3 days, helping to increase visitor numbers via social media platforms and handing out the fashionably designed showroom invitations. Jo, Esme and myself were fully integrated into the Wagstaff/ Umbrella family, after being introduced in the Tuesday briefing and thus were able to really shout about the showroom and all it had to offer to those we met out and about throughout the festival.