Q&A with William Knight, Show Director for Clerkenwell Design Week - part of Media 10's stable of events
The director of “the UK’s hottest design event” shares his insider insight into the world’s top designs and design shows.
1. What is your role at Media 10?
Show Director, Design Trade Events at Media 10 Ltd: I look after three shows – 100% Design, which has been running for 22 years, Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW), which is being staged for the eighth time next year, and LuxuryMade, a small showcase launched just a couple of months ago.
2. How did you end up doing what you do?
Well, I've not ended! However, my current role came about having worked in design promotion since 1999, when I joined the UK Design Council to work on their government relations. Subsequently I helped set up the London Design Festival, running it as Deputy Director for 8 editions. 100% Design is the biggest London Design Festival (LDF) event and I joined Media 10 in February 2012 to strengthen the show. Subsequently I took on Clerkenwell Design Week, which takes place in May each year. I didn't train as a designer, but know a lot about it now!
3. What makes Clerkenwell Design Week different?
The clue is in the name: Clerkenwell is a unique area of London, and the world. As a district it has a dense concentration of architects, designers and showrooms like nowhere else. CDW evolved from this amazing starting point and aims to celebrate the area including the history, architecture and the dynamic nature of the city. The mix of exhibitions in a series of (special) spaces, combined with original site-specific installations, a huge showroom programme and a fringe series combined reflect a distinctive model and an outstanding event – recently revealed as the UK's hottest design event by Dezeen!
4. If you could have lunch with any designer in the world who would it be and why?
I think it would have to be someone who has seen and done a huge amount. Ideally in their signature space: Norman Foster in Apple Campus 2, Philippe Starck in the Asahi Beer Hall or Thomas Heatherwick in his Bombay Sapphire distillery building.
5. What role do you see African design playing on a global stage?
I think one that resonates and is effective at home. The global stage is crowded – it’s authenticity and domestic success that will provide the best contribution; when a product, material, concept or trend is ready it'll make its mark.
6. If you had to pick one South African designer to showcase at Clerkenwell Design Week who would it be and why? (You may need some help here so let me know!)
7. What 3 skills are essential for doing your job?
Patience, presentation and (an agreed) vision.
8. What has been your most amazing installation in Clerkenwell Design Week?
I think the most visually stunning installation CDW has hosted was the Gx Glass Glaze Pavilion by Cousins & Cousins in 2015. It was a very tricky – and heavy – project to manage; however, it came together and it photographed like a dream. The images travelled far and wide and elevated Clerkenwell Design Week further than ever before.
9. Who have you always dreamt of getting onboard as an exhibitor and why?
The obvious choice is a designer who is working across brands, producing product and ideas that are currently leading the way. There are a few candidates – Jasper Morrison, Patricia Urquiola, Nendo – but I think I’d choose to work with Konstantin Grcic.
10. Besides your own shows, what other international show would you love to attend? And why?
I’ve heard good things about Vienna Design Week, and I’ve yet to make it to Dutch Design Week. However, I’d like to see where design is emerging, rather than fully established – Africa would be great, and design is increasingly important in the Middle East.
11. Finally, what’s on your Christmas gift list for this year?
I’m currently trying to complete a project on my house, so the list is long. As an indulgence I’d like a Shinola Runwell Turntable: it looks beautiful and would doubtless make a fantastic sound.