From the 21st to 23rd May London’s Clerkenwell district played home to one of the biggest festivals in the design industry, Clerkenwell Design Week. Now in its tenth year, the festival welcomed over 34,000 attendees with over 300 brands exhibiting, including Milliken.
For this year’s event, our London showroom was transformed into a ‘Happiness Hub’, as we focussed on the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ through a series of energetic events,including an interactive independent study, engaging panel debate, writing and wellness workshops and more, all alongside some exciting new product launches.
Collaborating with The Happiness Index
Over the course of the festival, we teamed up with The Happiness Index to conduct an independent study into how design can affect happiness in the workplace. The Happiness Index is made up of a team of talented individuals who are passionate about making workplaces healthier and happier. They believe that by listening, understanding and actioning feedback, organisations of all kinds can create a better work culture, improve staff retention and become more successful – both inside and outside the workplace. Aligned with our passion to improve employee well-being, the collaboration was a natural fit.
Visitors to the showroom were encouraged to step into the ‘Big Yellow Happiness Booth’ to answer questions about the impact of workplace design on their happiness, and share their responses via video. The data is currently being collated and the team at The Happiness Index are analysing the verbal feedback and sentiment, to pull out some key data surrounding workplace happiness. This will be developed into an industry report that will help us to shape our strategy as designers, helping us to incorporate more of what makes us happy into workplace design projects. With over 50 industry experts, comprising of designers, architects and manufacturers taking part, we look forward to seeing the results and sharing the data to help transform the future of workplace design.
Joe Wedgwood, Chief Storyteller from The Happiness Index & the Big Yellow Happiness Booth
In the Showroom...
Attendees to the festival also had the opportunity to take part in our workshops focused around happiness and well-being, with our wonderful hosts - critically acclaimed artist Liz Atkin and founder of WriteToRelax.com, Kate McBarron.
In her inspirational workshop, ‘Drawing for Happiness', Liz shared how she utilises drawing as a device to aid her day to day happiness with attendees, and gave a shortened version of her TED Talk, explaining her obsessive skin picking disorder, and the way she has overcome it by utilising charcoal drawings to relieve anxiety.
As well as this, Kate McBarron shared her thoughts on ‘Writing for Well-being’, and how writing can enrich our daily lives and help to build self confidence. Participants of Kate’s workshop learned how a simple ‘brain dump’ of thoughts and feelings onto a piece of paper can help release emotions so that the brain is relieved and can be more focussed on important and pressing tasks.
Happiness in the Workplace
On Tuesday evening, we played host to a panel discussion surrounding the topic of ‘Chasing Happiness'. The panel comprised of four industry experts including Ben Channon, (Author of ‘Happy by Design’), Kate Cook, (Harley Street Nutritionist), Neil Shah (Founder & Director of the Stress Management Society) and Tim Stoller (Director of The Happiness Index), all of whom had very diverse voices and opinions on the subject at hand.
Chaired by Helen Parton (Design Journalist), the discussion produced a range of interesting thoughts and viewpoints, including those from a range of audience members who shared their perspectives on how they could affect workplace happiness within their own projects.
|L-R: Ben Channon, (Author of ‘Happy by Design’), Kate Cook, (Harley Street Nutritionist), Neil Shah (Founder & Director of the Stress Management Society) and Tim Stoller (Director of The Happiness Index)|
A key takeaway from the discussion came from Tim Stoller, who had the audience laughing as he spoke about businesses who feel the need to offer staff insignificant perks such as ‘free fruit’ as an ‘employee benefit'. Stoller stated “It’s all well and good to eat your five a day in the office, but if your boss has a bad attitude - it’s not going to affect your day to day happiness.”
Stoller implored the audience to give more consideration to the benefits being offered to staff members in the way of happiness and well-being, and what they actually mean to the people in receipt of them. Whilst Neil posed the question, ‘Why do we feel like we need to be happy all the time?’, taking the stance that we are all very much in control of our own happiness, and whilst design elements and HR initiatives can have a solid impact, it’s up to us to make the decision to be happy.
The Great Big Clerkenwell Quiz
Wednesday evening also saw the first ever ‘Great Big Clerkenwell Quiz’, which was hosted by our friends David Smalley and Mick Jordan from Mix Interiors, with companies such as WeWork, Stoica and Perkins + Will taking part. Teams were put to the test by our quiz masters, on subjects including general knowledge, statistics around happiness and a ‘guess that tune’ round.
The attendees were then treated to live music from modern pop band Beat Roots, a gourmet twist on pub classics and indulgent cocktails from Luca Cinalli and scrumptious desserts from The Meringue Girls and The Marshmallowists.
New Collection Launches
Amongst the hustle and bustle of Clerkenwell Design Week, we also introduced two brand new carpet tile collections to the market. ‘Fractals’ and ‘Poise’ have been designed to showcase elements of the natural world and enhance the feeling of inner tranquillity and well-being.
Offered in a palette of beautifully nuanced hues, the two can be used together to create a calming and tranquil feel within your space. Both collections come with ‘Comfort Plus’ cushion backing in order to provide the ultimate underfoot experience, as well as providing acoustic benefits within your space.
|Poise - Awaken||Fractals - Frost Mint Wash|
We conducted a number of tours around the showroom over the course of the event, showcasing our extensive product range, including the new ‘Comfortable Concrete 2.0’ and extensions of our ‘Clerkenwell’ and ‘Colour Compositions’ collections.
Goings on around Clerkenwell
And whilst the showroom was jam-packed with visitors over the course of the event, our team managed to seek out some personal time to wander through the festival, discovering the range of installations and exhibitions on show.
We saw a lot of botanical inspiration in and around the festival - from living walls, to beautiful, randomly placed flower arrangements, and of course, the Zetter Townhouse had their annual arrangement on show, which this year, was inspired by ocean scenes.
Walking around the event, we also caught some eye-catching street art from Once Upon a Time, in collaboration with UAL Chelsea College of Arts, and a new take on a new launch of chairs from Aeron Hockey with games of chair hockey taking place over the course of the event. Whilst we didn’t get the chance to take part in the games, we spectated for a short while and found it a really original way of showcasing a new range.
We had a great time at CDW2019, celebrating 10 years of the iconic festival, and we’re thoroughly looking forward to (and already starting to plan!) next year’s event. Don’t forget to share your highlights from CDW2019 with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.