Credit: Black Edge Productions, courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week
Credit: Black Edge Productions, courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week

After a two-year hiatus, the design world was back in full force for the 11th Clerkenwell Design Week. With more than 400 events across 150+ showrooms, there was a wealth of inspiration to explore. So, donning our comfiest shoes, we embarked on a trail of trend spotting, with particular focus on the future of workplace. Here’s what we found…

Calming curves

TL-BR: Vitra sink, Ago lighting, Interface installation (credit: Black Edge Productions), Work Series II table – Another Country x Smile Plastics
TL-BR: Vitra sink, Ago lighting, Interface installation (credit: Black Edge Productions), Work Series II table – Another Country x Smile Plastics

Perhaps summarised best by Tom Dixon in conversation with Bethan Ryder on day one of CDW: "There are all kinds of reasons to do rounded.” The unofficial emblem of lockdown was a rainbow, and considering the last two years, it’s perhaps unsurprising that comfort is a top priority right now. As a result, chunky, soft forms are everywhere in the post-pandemic design landscape.

In the workplace, cushioned curves mirror shapes normally found in the home, making workers feel calmer and more relaxed. They also come with very practical qualities. With furniture, tables and desks can be made more space-efficient – such as the Work Series II table by Another Country. Chairs can offer greater physical support – Parla being a particular highlight at the show. While in washrooms, a lack of corners can improve the control of hygiene – see Vitra’s stunning gloss black sink.

Colour, colour & more colour

TL-BR: Wayfinding artwork by Lois O’Hara x OnOffice (credit: Sam Frost Photography), Chieftain Fabrics, Vitra showroom, Baux acoustic panels (credit: Black Edge Production
TL-BR: Wayfinding artwork by Lois O’Hara x OnOffice (credit: Sam Frost Photography), Chieftain Fabrics, Vitra showroom, Baux acoustic panels (credit: Black Edge Production

One trend that particularly stood out at this year’s CDW was a bolder approach to colour. Rather than opt for ‘safer’ neutrals, brands fully embraced a joyful, vivid palette to showcase their product’s possibilities, rather than their predictable best sellers.

Although evident across all segments, it was certainly captured for workplace environments. Eye-catching pink and black acoustic panels from Baux; geometric pops of multi-colour by Chieftain Fabrics; an apple-green chair by Dare; pink privacy sofas by Habbio; and showstopping wallcoverings by Arte all contributed to the aesthetic of the ‘workspitality’ destination of the future.

Indoors out

TL-BR: Second Home outdoors workspace, HAY's Palissade Park Bench by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, artwork by Lois O’Hara for Plant Designs, Swing Table by Duffy London
TL-BR: Second Home outdoors workspace, HAY's Palissade Park Bench by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, artwork by Lois O’Hara for Plant Designs, Swing Table by Duffy London

You’ve heard of outdoors in, but what about indoors out? Another lasting effect of the pandemic is much greater use of outside spaces. Although we may have returned inside, it seems we’re not quite ready to give up this new-found affiliation with nature.

At CDW, this was considered nowhere more so than as an extension of the workplace. Duffy’s baby pink swing table with playful graphic print by Lois O’Hara allows for meetings to take place anywhere; HAY’s Palissade Park Bench – not unlike our ACAD Modular Seating installation, currently exhibiting at The Harewood Biennial – provides a basis for conversation or contemplation; and Second Home took the concept of co-working onto the London streets to offer complete flexibility to those wanting to catch-up on emails during the festival without missing out on any of the atmosphere.

With so much to see and do, it’s clear that the return of real-life events is a welcome one for the design community. We’re now looking ahead to Harewood, where you can visit our ACAD Modular Seating installation until the show’s end on 29 August 2022.

Plus, stay tuned to see and hear more from us on how we’re contributing to the future of workplace.

All images credited, used courtesy of Clerkenwell Design Week.