What to do if you’re missing Clerkenwell Design Week

15th July 2020

COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of so many fabulous occasions: the Olympics, Euros, Glastonbury and now the most painful of all (at least for me); Clerkenwell Design Week.

CDW, due to take place this week, has now been postponed until May next year, when it shall return better than ever, with added venues and installations and more.

That’s all very well and good,” I hear you cry, “but what about now? How can I scratch my design itch in the absence of the UK’s leading independent design festival?”

Before you go drowning your sorrows in your re-opened local, fear not! There are many ways to recreate the fun of the festival from home.

The Installations

Arguably the most eye-catching or, dare I say it, Instagram-able aspects of CDW come from the temporary installations that transform Clerkenwell for the course of the festival.

The theme this year was Time: to celebrate Clerkenwell’s prominence in the clock-making industry, or ‘horology’ for all you clever-clogs out there.

While you wait for the festival to return next May, you can read up about Clerkenwell’s clockwork history, plus grab a glimpse of the artist’s impressions of how the proposed installations would have looked, on the CDW website.

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A key component of CDW are the talks (Conversations at Clerkenwell), which promise “in-depth dialogue with established and new design talent, industry leaders, journalists and institutes.”

This year’s line-up was to feature conversations with the fantastic Morag Myerscough, whose commitment to colour is exactly what you need in your life right now. Here is one of our favourite interviews with Morag, to give a hint of what we’re sure will come in future Conversations at Clerkenwell!

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CDW was also set to host London-based furniture maker Sebastian Cox. Luckily, Sebastian gave a very recent interview as part of the Virtual Design Festival, hosted by Dezeen.

Described as the “world’s first online design festival”, the VDF was not only expertly timed, but featured dozens of interviews with other world-renowned designers. These included the eminently sustainable Piet Hein Eek, the incomparable Nigerien architect Mariam Kamara, and many, many more. The VDF broadcast around 200 videos on their YouTube channel throughout the course of the festival from April through July, and very helpfully gathered together their top 10-most-watched videos.

One of our highlights from the VDF was their Live Talk with Australian-British artist Lucy McRae, who created a solitary conceptual survival raft for the coronavirus lockdown, that can “deflate to gently embrace the voyager.” 

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CDW 2020 was to be home to over 100 local-resident design showrooms, with participating companies from the world of furniture, lighting and kitchen and bathroom design including Camira, Bisley, Brunner, Arper, Solus and Morgan.

If your lockdown renovation projects were… let’s say… less than successful, then the CDW website has a full run-down of this year’s participating companies to provide you with ample inspiration for your future efforts.

God speed.


Given that this year’s event was to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, there was extra emphasis on wellness with breathing workshops, yoga sessions and wellbeing talks scheduled, under the collective scheduling name of Clerken‘Well’.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the point in focusing on our mental health coming out of lockdown, because we’re all doing so great thanks for asking?”


CALM was the partner charity for Clerken‘Well’, and their website is full of great content which can help us all keep the anxiety at bay, and helping us get through these most difficult times. For example, after discovering that 75% of people feel anxious about coming out of lockdown, they’ve written a great guide on how to manage the process.

Food and Drink

Finally, you can’t have a virtual CDW tribute without great food accompanied by a few beers. And while it might be difficult to recreate Firebrand’s stone oven pizzas with a nice pint of discounted Brewdog beer, I don’t see anything wrong with passing the time between now and May with a supermarket-bought pizza and a gin in the garden.

See you in 2021…!