Built Environment 23.07.21

Clerkenwell Design Week Unlocked 2021

At the beginning of July, Clerkenwell saw three days of eclectic lighting, furniture and interiors, welcoming its annual design event.

At the beginning of July, Clerkenwell saw three days of eclectic lighting, furniture and interiors, welcoming its annual design event. Like many events across the nation, this one was delayed due to Covid-19. Typically held in May, its postponement resulted in smaller crowds, fewer showrooms and lots of hand-sanitizer.

However, if you assumed this resulted in a lack-lustre occasion, you would be mistaken. On the contrary, this year’s event indicates a promising revival for the ‘world of design’ post-covid. Despite the downfall the industry experienced as a result of the pandemic, Clerkenwell Design Week illustrated the pushing of boundaries that exists within contemporary furniture and interior design today and leaves us with hope for a bright future for the industry post-covid.

Indeed, this year's event facilitated the much sought-after return of designers, buyers, architects and everyone in between, to network and showcase what the industry has to offer. We were lucky enough to attend the event, partly because of our love of cocktails and free food, but mostly because of our obsession with furniture.

As we floated through the exhibitions and avant-garde installations, five showrooms left an imprint on our minds too powerful to ignore. They exhibited contemporary, accessible and aspirational designs with a conscientious attention to space.

1. Sixteen3

With the release of their new showroom last year, Sixteen3’s space displayed their ability to create beautiful yet practical designs that communicate their creative approach to making furniture fun. We loved the flexibility of certain pieces, namely Bodyn and Calvert, which lend themselves well to a post-covid workspace.

2. Workstories

Who knew office furniture could be so beautiful? Workstories are well-versed in creating bespoke furniture for office and workplaces. Masters at what they do, they know exactly how to encapsulate the personality of their partnering brands in all the spaces they create. With a great new website and look book for 2021, this was a must see!

3. Table Place Chairs and Stansons

Innovative is a word that springs to mind when looking at Table Place Chairs’ inventive collaboration with Stansons. This particular partnership was born out of an evident shared interest in creating sustainable, creative spaces with the end user in mind. Placed in an old banking hall, their first Clerkenwell Design Week here was an absolute success.

Their free-standing framework, The Circle of Life, was the Icon of Design winner for 2021. It provides an efficient way of dividing a room, is made from recycled plastic and yet could easily be slotted into any office space. With transparent curtains, this beautiful piece provides a space for private conversation without making the room feel smaller. Truly an intelligent design.

Another great collaboration in the Table Place Chairs showroom was with Volume Creative, Spared and Brik. An interactive chocolate tasting to resemble Spared’s new surfaces created using plastic waste. Where there are great new products launches and chocolate, we’ll be there!

4. Solus

A business born out of supplying cutting-edge architectural tiles, Solus Ceramic’s showroom illustrates their ability to make an informal space opulent. Their attention to detail in every section of vinyl wall and wooden flooring, re-affirms their place as one of the leading architectural tile suppliers.

5. Arper

As a huge name in the industry, Arper's aim to improve the relationship between people and space is evident in their work, each piece of furniture expressing a symbiosis between practicality and design. The attention Arper pays to every aspect of their creative work is clear, the fabric and shape of every table and chair carefully considered. The end result is astonishing, leaving a collection of dynamic pieces fit for a variety of spaces.

The Future of Furniture Design

The showrooms of these five companies confirm their status as some of the best in interior and architectural design. But it hasn’t always been roses. The rest of the nation may have forgotten about Brexit since the pandemic, but in the design world, its effects have loomed large.

Sourcing materials globally and relying on import and export has meant the design industry has been impacted heavily by both ‘Brexit’ and the global pandemic. In fact, as government restrictions caused public and office spaces to close indefinitely, the design industry’s clientele began to decrease.

Thankfully, as we enter a post-pandemic society, the future of design shines bright. The amount of talent and beauty seen at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week indicates the ability for the design world to reinvent and adapt. Work-from-home culture has changed people’s attitudes towards their own workspace, with people growing increasingly intolerable of uncomfortable office design. The industry’s ability to adapt in the post-pandemic society will be the root to their success - and they are adapting.

Now, sales within the industry are beginning to rise and there is an increasing demand for quality products. By extension, the industry will be seeking quality individuals to be a part of these showrooms and creating the pieces within them. Design companies will look outward to recruit the best team possible in ensuring they can capitalise when life goes ‘back to normal’ - and Harmonic are at the centre of this. We understand the importance having a strong team in both sales-focused roles (including Showroom and Sales Support) but also within Supply Chain. As the design world will bloom again, so too will the jobs within the industry.

Final Remarks

The beautiful interiors seen at Clerkenwell Design Week indicate the change we are likely to witness within the design sector. Despite being negatively impacted by both ‘Brexit’ and the global pandemic, design companies have used this time to reinvent themselves and develop new products and projects in-line with our changing society.

As our nation enters a ‘new-normal’, we are likely to witness a dramatic increase in sales within the industry. This implies the recruitment of a new cohort of strong, resilient and creative individuals. This, as well as new design projects, indicate a bright future for the design sector post-pandemic.

If you would like to discuss hiring plans for your operations, sales or finance teams, please get in touch on charlotte@harmonicfinance.com

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