Damp but unbowed. Clerkenwell Design Week 2024 review

Over the past couple of weeks, you might have read a few Clerkenwell Design Week reviews. For a while there, you couldn’t go to LinkedIn without seeing people’s experiences of and opinions on the event. This look back at those three days in May might be somewhat different from the vast majority you’ve already read/scrolled past. We’re not going to start by telling you how ‘super excited’ we were. Not that we don’t look forward to CDW or enjoy the festival. Far from. It’s just that this is actually our job and not a fun few days out of the office.

Let’s start at the start. Featuring 600+ showroom events, 11+ curated exhibitions, installations, seminars and talks, design destinations, a fringe programme, food and drink partners, Clerkenwell Design Week continues to be (possibly) the most eagerly anticipated and important UK industry events in the calendar. So it’s somewhat understandable that many get genuinely excited by heading into Clerkenwell for three busy, bustling days.

Unlike the majority of these visitors, we spend considerably more than three days a year in and around the district, so maybe we don’t get that same ‘buzz’ as others, who only see Clerkenwell with hordes of industry visitors, bedecked in pink and full of vibrant, exciting events, decorations, installations and beaming smiles. To paraphrase a well-worn football analogy, you should try wandering around those same streets on a cold Wednesday morning in February. It’s not exactly the same experience.

But maybe we’re just world-weary, cynical old sods and we should just rejoice and embrace the next-gen’s enthusiasm for all this stuff. Maybe it’s a bit like Taylor Swift – possibly really good but just not for us. We should stick to our Procol Harem and Jethro Tull and enjoy those cold Wednesdays in Feb rather than bitching about Millennials having a grand day (or three) out.

Where this review also differs from the majority you’ll have come across on social media is that we’re not (well, it’s probably quite obvious seeing as you’re already some 350 words in) going to start by being as British as it’s possible to be by immediately talking about the weather. It rained. So what? It’s England in May. What we really should be mentioning is how lucky we’ve been with the weather in previous years and how it was only a matter of time before we were faced with a damp CDW. One thing we should say is that, over the first two days of this year’s event, the adverse weather meant that visitors didn’t mass in and around Sutton Street and Clerkenwell Green, but instead headed into the lovely dry showrooms and exhibitions.