26th May 2015
by Nora Mekavuthikul and Jakob Kisker
For three days every June, the doors of London’s leafy creative enclave, Clerkenwell, are flung open allowing the public a glimpse into the new and next in design. Nora Mekavuthikul and Jakob Kisker, from Seymourpowell’s Foresight team, cut through the designer hubbub to bring you their top five highlights from this year’s show.
Reacting to a growing interest in sleep and its effect on productivity and wellbeing, Sto Werkstatt in collaboration with design practice Hassell and Draisic Studio, created ‘Hypnos: The Architecture of Sleep’. The immersive space allowed busy fair-goers to get a high-quality ten-minute nap. Visitors were invited to lie down on fabric cocoons, whilst gentle water sounds and soothing music enhanced the relaxing experience. Fully restored and back to a more productive self, the ‘power-nappers’ were then released to conquer the rest of the fair.
The Hypnos installation highlights two key social concerns of our time; we are tight on time and feel worn out by the fast pace of our modern lifestyles.
How might your business deliver solutions that help the time poor and over-tired consumer increase their productivity?
As the built environment becomes more densely populated, there is a growing urge to take ownership of under-used communal areas. Excitingly, at this year’s show we saw the public space intervention ‘Agora on the Green’ reacting to this trend by revitalising Clerkenwell Green. The once pigeon dominated spot was transformed by an interactive installation into a popular social hangout spot.
The popularity of Agora on the Green’s installation can largely be attributed to its interactive elements, which gave visitors a sense of ownership over the space.
How might you offer your customers and consumers a greater sense of inclusion through your services and products?
From helping lonely lovers to find a mate to spawning fruitful new business connections the Internet is adept at matchmaking. At Clerkenwell this year we saw an extension of this thinking as Fixperts (an online platform that links people with broken things to people that can fix them) launched their year-long residency with Benchmark. Starting in September, the FixResident will spend a year in the craft powerhouse’s workshops, applying their imagination and skills to solving problems through making. We are curious to see the outcome.
Fixperts is answering the need for self-sufficiency whilst creating a joyful sense of community.
How could your business connect and empower people to create a feel good halo around your brand?
In our smartphone dependent society the fear of running out of battery is as constant as our desire to connect. Setting up home in the Farmiloe building we witnessed Benchmark reacting to this contemporary angst. Exhibiting the Angus workbench, a large table with power outlets, Benchmark invited people to sit down and bring their phones back to life. Whilst charging, a craftsman could be observed carving spoons in the background, creating an interesting juxtaposition between traditional and new. Taking a less romantic view on the need for on the go power was Charge, whose induction charging pots were scattered all around the fair, giving visitors with a compatible phone the opportunity to charge wirelessly. Whilst Benchmark and Charge took different approaches to the issue, it was an exciting glimpse into how charging technology is slowly entering the mainstream market.
The increasing desire for high-tech products that cater for our functional as well as emotional needs is showcased in both AirCharge and Benchmark’s Angus table.
How could you incorporate this more balance approach to innovation?
With growing awareness of the impact of consumerism on the environment, peoples’ appetite for short-lived seasonal trends is waning. Sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon and designer Sebastian Cox embodied this concern in the ‘Invisible Store of Happiness’. Highlighting the need for more responsible design, their wooden installation was made from lesser-used American hardwoods, chosen in a deliberate protest to materials currently en vogue. Cox commented: "One of the issues with trends is that they are short and it takes 150 years to grow a tree; it doesn't make sense to have American cherry and maple trees harvested in the timber yard lying unused while we're trying to over-procure American black walnut.”
Cox & Bacon's more conscious approach to design is embodying people's growing appetite for more responsible products.
How could your brand distinguish itself through a more sustainable and long lasting approach to business?