Clerkenwell, often credited as London's design hub has more designers & architect's in it's dense little square mile than anywhere else in the world. For centuries it has been London's Graphic hub, still home to many traditional bookbinders, printers and Victorian warehouses. Fast forward to today and CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK is in it's 9th year. A strong collection of talks and open studios from some of the most innovative studios in the capital. Showcasing the latest in furniture, print, product and lighting, it brings together a truly diverse show in an area full of personality, allowing a real insight into the direction of London's creative world.

This year a strong focus was directed around our responsibility as designers and our material futures. Conventional should be Unacceptable. Feature products included Ocean Plastics, Trawler Nets as furniture and edible water packaging from ooho.

SUSTAINABILITY MYTHS - With CDW, Jane Withers & Sophie Matthews

Myths of Sustainability. Max Fraser in conversation with Sophie Thomas and Jane Withers about the challenges and success stories of circular Design - Key point: why isn’t End of Life featured more in the brief??



  • 1 Tote - 327 plastic bags

  • Mining 1g of gold - 1ton of Co2

  • We're told to "Eat home grown veg" - more greenhouse gasses to maintain temperature.

  • Aluminium is recyclable - high energy need to meltdown

  • Plastic lifespan - Recyclable 4-14 times

  • Paper lifespan - Recyclable 6 times


2018 has seen an influx in campaigns related to recycling and degradable - dubbed the Attenborough Effect following a successful season of New Planet II from the BBC.


The panellists covered a wide range of topics from how we manage waste to how our waste can have a second life. A large number of what is considered degradable plastics don't break down due to factories needing to create high-temperature environments. This is not cost effective meaning these plastics are therefore incinerated as a result - adding to the overall pollution.


"We’re not thinking about the consequences during the design process."




There is a huge issue around the education of recyclables leading to consumers mixing recyclables and non-recyclables. Because of this, tonnes of waste is consequently labeled as contaminated and sent to landfill or gets incinerated. Suppliers can also be to blame for not including the appropriate logos onto packaging while adding to the confusion companies also create their own version of the recycling logo. 





















The green dot

The symbol means that a financial contribution has been made towards recycling.

The Mobius Loop

Generally understood to be the international symbol for recycling, but the use of the symbol is entirely voluntary.

Recycle Now

A recognised symbol for recycling and to motivate people into action. Instructions are usually displayed alongside.


These logos are quite clear though aren't always used on the right products.

Plastics - 6 Different Logos

Each number represents a different plastic though not all recycling plants can take these. Check with your council before recycling.


A key noticeable difference this year is a large stride away from clean, white and thin styles. Instead pattern, stripe and colour reigns here and for the first time in years, more florals and regal patterns were on show. Project and Platform took inspiration from muted palettes and pink tones while some of the fridge events showed focus on regal eclectic design and ornate print. Material stories and futures were very much part of the theme and up-cycling and fabric composition was of particular focus.