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Photography by Dan Weill
23rd May 2017

Design Undefined opens at Clerkenwell London for CDW17

- written by Anya Lawrence

With the sun shining and a sweet aroma of summer in the air, Clerkenwell Design Week 2017 (23 - 25 May) has opened its doors for another year. Returning to its home at multi-faceted design destination Clerkenwell London, Design Undefined celebrates the value of cross pollination within the creative industries and takes the form of a series of installations dotted throughout the sprawling destination. Be quick though, you’ve only got three days to see the installations. 

Design Undefined seeks to explore the value of multidisciplinary creativity and showcases the work of a selection of practitioners who refuse to follow a single creative strand. Instead the five exhibitors, Alex Booker, Jordan Söderberg Mills, Anthony Burrill, Michael Marriott and ALUSID, embrace the opportunities presented by working across disciplines. Often straying from convention, the exhibitors’ work blurs boundaries. The result is a multi-disciplinary group exhibition that encompasses an array of approaches and methodologies, each with diverse outcomes. 

Printmaker Alex Booker presents a series of woodcut prints that explore the history and characters of Clerkenwell. Adorning the central wall of Clerkenwell London, the portraits tell a compelling and unique tale of Clerkenwell’s vibrant history. Throughout CDW, Alex will host a series of woodcutting workshops in which members of the public will use traditional Japanese carving tools to create their own artworks. In addition to the artworks themselves, a highlight of the installation is an ornate cabinet containing various ephemera collected by Alex. The display offers an insight into the in-depth research that informed Alex’s body of work. A copy of Rebel Footprints by David Rosenberg, the book that kick-started Alex’s research, can be found amongst classic texts by the likes of George Orwell.

Alex Booker's portraits
Initiated as a research project led by professor David Binns and Dr Alasdair Bremner (originally funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) at University of Central Lancashire, sustainability-focused brand ALUSID creates unique products that are manufactured using almost 100% recycled materials. The Preston-based company takes ceramics from waste sanitary wares – sinks, toilets and even bidets – and glass extracted from redundant television screens and crushes them to form a robust material with a finish akin to terrazzo. ALUSID’s installation at Clerkenwell London showcases an array of products formed using this process, alongside a display of some of the materials in their original state: a half broken sink, a chipped toilet and a bulbous television straight out of the 1970s. The display is evocative and brings home the ethos that drives ALUSID: what is one person’s rubble is another person’s treasure. 
ALUSID's installation on the Platform, photography by Dan Weill
Occupying one of Clerkenwell’s London’s windows, Room Within a Room brings together the work of graphic design powerhouse and master of uplifting mantras Anthony Burrill with that of no frills, material-led designer Michael Marriott. The result is a room filled with a range of custom-made plywood furniture which has been screen-printed with graphics taken from Anthony’s recently launched book Make it Now. The room showcases both individual projects – an eclectic array of Anthony’s prints adorn one wall, while a neat line of Ernö hooks designed by Michael punctuate the opposite wall – as well collaborative pieces; a series of laser-cut world clocks for example. Room Within a Room is full pelt: colour and graphics come at you in all directions. It’s pleasingly very Michael Marriott and Anthony Burrill! 

Anthony Burrill and Michael Marriott's 'Room within a Room' installation, photography by Dunja Opalko
Similarly immersive is Canadian designer Jordan Söderberg Mills updated version of his prismatic light installation Sectum Spectra together with his Anaglyphic Mirror series, enclosed within Clerkenwell London’s cubic space the Keep. The installation plays with colour and reflection in an effort to translate digital experience into a physical reality. Using physics and mirrored surfaces to distort the viewer’s perception of light and reflection, the space’s glass panelled facade both squeezes and slows down light to create a “glorious mess-with-your-head impact.” 

Jordan Söderberg Mills inside his installation 'Sectum Spectra', photography by Dan Weill
More about the exhibitors and their varying approaches can be found within Zetteler’s series of interviews:

Design Undefined is on display at Clerkenwell London throughout Clerkenwell Design Week, 23 - 25 May 2017, 10-8pm.
Alex Booker leading one of his workshops, photography by Dan Weill
'Room within a Room' by Anthony Burrill and Michael Marriott, photography by Dan Weill
ALUSID's surface made from waste found in the river Thames, photography by Dan Weill
Jordan Söderberg Mills' 'Sectum Spectra' installation, photography by Dan Weill
Alex Booker's woodblock of Joseph Grimaldi, photography by Dan Weill

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