This spring, we’re proud to be the official tea partner for Clerkenwell Design Week, a festival of creativity taking place in London’s creative quarter from 23rd – 25th May. To celebrate our roots as the area’s local tea company and lend our support to Clerkenwell’s flourishing design community, we’re marking this occasion with a very special installation. We’ve teamed up with the talented team at Shape London and Fraher Architects to create the world’s first Playbox tea stand.
The Playbox, which can be found at Spa Fields, Clerkenwell, for the duration of the festival, is a bespoke stand inspired by a tea caddy and fabricated by the Shape London team. From the box, we’ll be serving our premium blends and inviting visitors to explore the design, take photos, meet our team and of course, enjoy a cup of fine tea and a talk by some of London’s leading design minds.
We caught up with inspiring Architect and our talented collaborator Lizzie Webster of Shape London to find out what she gets up to behind the scenes, her top tea choices and what to expect at Clerkenwell Design Week…
Tell us about a day in the life of an Architect; what do you get up to?
What don’t I get up to? A typical office day is spent running all types of jobs, from house extensions to retail fit outs. I usually spend time on the phone speaking to clients, contractors, subcontractors and local authorities to ensure the smooth running of our projects. Site days are busy as I work my way around London visiting our sites, checking in on progress and answering queries. As with many architects working in a closely-linked creative industry life becomes multi-disciplinary
What inspired you to become an Architect?
I always loved art and making things and I have always been interested in space. I can draw the floor plan of our first house, we moved out when I was three and I’ve never been back. I dont know what it is, it’s just part of you.
Tell us about some of the inspiring projects you’ve worked on with Shape London…
Well obviously I’m currently loving working on The Playbox for Clerkenwell Design week, working on an installation at a relatively small scale means it’s all about the detail. We have worked on some amazing houses across London and with great clients. Probably the most inspiring project for me was our first project The Jewel Box; it was the project that started our studio.
Tell us a little about The Playbox and how you went about imagining and creating it…
We have always been big fans of Clerkenwell Design Week and visited as architects to see the wealth of ideas displayed. Now that we’ve launched a partner bespoke furniture and CNC company, we were keen to be involved with the festival as a contributor as well as visitors. We wanted to demonstrate how what is perceived as an ordinary piece of joinery, like a typical cupboard, can be something beautiful in its own right.
The Playbox needed to open up and flower into a different form, before retracting back and folding into its original position. We started to research the fine carpentry associated with the tea trade and came across beautiful examples of tea caddies throughout the years. This helped us develop the design as we considered opening and closing compartments, secret drawers and incorporating striking brass detail within the design. The result is very exciting.
What can guests at CDW Festival expect from the Playbox?
Firstly, they can enjoy the experience of opening and closing different parts of the box, exploring it and encouraging it to blossom. Next, they can simply enjoy sitting at a rest point at Spa Fields, which will be called Design Fields for the duration of the festival, over a cup of tea. The Playbox is a great place to sit, chat, discuss and reflect on the event. It also provides a music system for visitors to use and play pieces to build so it’s accessible to everybody; visitors, children, speakers, locals and exhibitors are all invited to have fun with it.
What’s your favourite blend of tea?
I like a good old classic English Breakfast, though I’ve recently been enjoying a cup of Indian Breakfast as well.
Where can design-loving Londoners find and see your work at CDW and around the city?
We will have the Newby Teas Playbox at Design Fields and its little brother, another smaller Playbox, will be in Brewhouse Yard. Much of our architectural work is private residential so it’s hidden away in peoples homes, however we’ve recently completed a fit out of an audio listening bar on Stable Street in Kings Cross which anybody can see all year round.