Last week, the Oktra team went in search of the latest new product designs at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week – looking at everything from office furniture, lighting, and floor coverings, to technology, textiles, and wall coverings.
Muted hues and playful geometries
The dominant palette at Clerkenwell Design Week took a more subdued approach to previous years, allowing texture and geometric patterns to add subtle visual interest to textiles and fabrics.
Nordic greys, light stone and steely blues proved prominent in seating upholstery (perhaps due to the reappreciation in Scandinavian mid-century furniture design). Camira, Kvadrat and Bute fabric manufacturers played with a mixture of these understated tones, contrasting them with bursts of vibrancy.
Lighting the way
With recent innovations in LED lighting becoming more affordable, designers are exploring sculptural forms in their creations.
LightArt’s malleable resin created strange and sleek geometries, while Curiousa & Curiousa’s traditional blown glass chandeliers played with organic colours and fluid, ‘droplet-like’ shapes. In an alternative approach, Humanscale’s lead designer Todd Bracher has focused his attentions on both form and function – enhancing the quality of the emitted light with Vessel. This decorative hanging light refracts the light beam from a hidden source; creating a glare-free and high colour rendering within a minimal aesthetic.
Safe in sound
Sound-absorbing finishes and acoustic solutions provide a direct response to one of the most common complaints exacerbated by the rise in open office design – noise pollution.
Many textile designers have begun enhancing the sound absorbing qualities of their materials, from Muratto’s rapidly renewable and environmentally friendly cork sound-proofing to acoustic specialist Artwork’s felt-based panelling. These products move away from the mundane grey panelling of yesterday; allowing for branding and messaging to stand out.
Bang & Olufsen’s new range of elegant wall speakers is a visual treat. ‘Beosound’ is a series of hexagonal speakers that can be customised dependent on the room size and shape. In a mix of colours, they create a beautiful honeycomb shape. We spoke to the team on the stand who told us that these had been specified in open plan offices as a sound masking device, using the calming patter of rain in the background as a form of biomimicry.
Invasion of privacy (solutions)
Another major implication of the open plan environment is the lack of privacy. To counter this, commercial manufacturers are developing a host of products in the form of panelling, pods and high back seating.
Actui responded to the issue with individualised booths. Offering air conditioning and lighting control, these miniature refuges put the user in the driving seat, allowing them complete control over their environment; perfect for phone calls, sensitive meetings and intensive work. We see these being used with IoT booking technology, allowing users to efficiently and effectively perform their task-based activities.
The return of the maker
Throughout the festival, there was an abundance of artisan, handcrafted designs and this percolated into many of the larger brands.
Camira fabrics demonstrated the elaborate detail involved in weaving before our eyes, while Nor11 spoke of the careful craftsmanship involved in the carving and upholstery of Nor11’s Mammoth chair. In both of these companies, there is a sense of the intentionally ‘flawed,’ that no two products are the same, offering a sense of ‘one-off’ production and uniqueness.