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Exploring Clerkenwell 2024

Every year, as May approaches, we eagerly anticipate our annual trip to Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW), which takes over the streets of London for three days. The event attracts interior brands from all over the globe, ranging from well-established suppliers to emerging, smaller businesses. 

Throughout the week, we have the opportunity to experience product launches, workshops, parties, and talks from some of the industry’s leading figures. This year, we sent two National Design Academy tutors, Molly, and Carla, to explore the talent on display. Here, they kindly share their highlights in their own words.

The first stop of the day for Molly and Carla was the eagerly anticipated Light exhibition, sponsored by Dyson. Held in the subterranean House of Detention, the former Victorian prison showcased a range of lighting brands and stand-alone installations.

Spark & Bell 

We absolutely loved visiting the Spark & Bell showcase. We spoke with Emer Gillespie, the director and designer of the company. We discussed the brand’s ethos and how they champion sustainability without compromising on style. Their journey into handmade lighting began with personal home projects, and today, they offer a wide range of in-house recycled plastic products and lighting made from chipped CD cases. They have even recently been awarded their B Corp certification.

Spark & Bell Website: 

Exhibition – Old Sessions House 

 Set within the beautiful Grade II listed building, the Old Sessions House exhibition was the highlight of our day. Built as a former courthouse, the Palladian-style structure has a façade of solid Portland stone that overlooks Clerkenwell Green. Inside the building, many of the historic features are intact, and the patina of aged stone and plasterwork serves as a reminder of the building’s long history.

Fora Form 

Fora Form was one of the many brands located in Old Sessions House. While there, we learned about the BUD chairs and discovered their new, human-centred workspace offerings designed to facilitate engaging meetings. The BUD chair features a low back, which is said to enhance communication, while its round and open form provides a more playful approach to workplace furniture.

Fora Form Website:

Exhibition – British Collection  

Located in the atmospheric St. James’ Church, the British Collection was an impressive showcase of the finest design emerging from the UK. The collection highlighted the skill and craftsmanship of British designers, offering a glimpse into the works that currently define contemporary design.



Collison is an English design and manufacturing company that strives to create heirloom-quality furniture and kitchens. The studio celebrates classic English craftsmanship with pieces that have been hand-carved to create beautiful lines and curves. The designs are simple and elegant, embracing traditional techniques such as mortise and tenon joinery. Edward Collison, the founder of Collison, designs all the pieces, which are carefully crafted at his workshop in North London. For their kitchens, Collison believes in keeping things as low-tech as possible to maintain a sense of calm materiality.

Collinson Website:

🖼️ Street Art and Installations

The streets of Clerkenwell during CDW were adorned with striking installations and street art. These thought-provoking pieces challenge perceptions and invite interaction. From large-scale sculptures to immersive environments, the installations are a playful addition to the festival. One that we witnessed on the day was the 2LG Stay Playful (When No One Feels Like Playing) vintage, bright pink helter-skelter. Situated in Spa Fields, the installation drew inspiration from old fairgrounds and a childhood fascination with kitsch ornaments to harness nostalgia.


👩‍🎨 Conversations and Collaborations

Throughout the week there are lots of talks and panel discussions featuring industry leaders, innovators, and thinkers. These sessions cover a range of topics, from sustainability and the future of urban design to the role of technology in shaping our built environment.

While exploring Design Fields, we came across a talk delivered by Lauren Chiu, Head of Colour and Material Trends at Stylus. The products and environments of Autumn/Winter 25/26 are set to be influenced by three key directions: Simplicity, Borderless, and Odyssey.


Trend One: Simplicity Junkyard Materials celebrate creative reuse by utilising waste and scrap heaps.

Trend Two: Borderless Warm and Intimate Colours provide a softness during grey winters.

Trend Three: Odyssey Eerie and Ritualistic interplays between hard and soft, dark, and light, real, and unreal. This trend draws inspiration from horror stories and old rituals.


As Clerkenwell Design Week continues to grow, it remains committed to exploring fresh themes. Ultimately, it is a celebration of creativity in all its forms, set within one of London’s most dynamic locations. It is a wonderful place to discover, learn, and be inspired. We can’t wait to visit next year!

NDA Magazine - Spring 2024

It's bursting with spring reads. Embrace the fresh energy of the season by exploring our Spring 2024 interior tips and discover the colours our tutors anticipate will dominate our walls (and ceilings).

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