Clerkenwell at Work: Why the area’s offices are the Home of Creators
Clerkenwell has always been a creative place, and today its not much different! Honestly, this is one of my favourite places in London.
Clerkenwell’s rich history boasts Monasteries, a strong Italian community and some of the finest craftsmanship on the planet. The Industrial Revolution transformed Clerkenwell from a small religious village into a manufacturing and distribution powerhouse, home to the printing press and some of the most active breweries and distilleries in London.
Whilst there was a risk of the big bad machines dominating the area, watchmakers, jewellery makers and craftsmen moved in and developed the area into a district of artisans. It’s clear that people “who make stuff” have flocked to Clerkenwell in the past. It’s only appropriate (and slightly poetic) that as we move from the Industrial Revolution to the Information Revolution, people “who make virtual stuff” are moving to the area in hordes. It has been coined ‘Shoreditch’s older brother”, which we feel is about right as it appears more laid back with a slightly less crowded feel but with all the fun that you might find down in the Shoreditch underbelly.
Everyone from tech startups to design folk and media agencies to architects are finding a home and writing the story of Clerkenwell for the next century. This is a great place to settle your business, startup or grownup you will find a beautiful Clerkenwell office down most nooks and alleys.
What’s more, as a place designed for beautiful living, packed with spas, boutique hairdressers, quality food shops, foodie beloved restaurants, yoga studios, bakeries and designer shops; Clerkenwell inspires you to work and live better. Don’t forget, it’s all about that work life balance and this one great place to find it. Read on to find out which companies are already calling this place home….
Office space in Clerkenwell
Clerkenwell offices are for everyone looking to find that illusive balance of work and play. With a rustic aesthetic, brick exposed walls and mid-century furniture, the offices exude style and inspiration. Here are a few of our favourites in the area, with a brief description of what they do and why we love them.
HEADSPACE claims it provides a modern, flexible, design led space for young ambitious startups and businesses alike. It is already home to the prestigious likes of Buzzfeed, MOVEGuides and Picfair to name a few; and if you don’t know who these companies are then let me fill you in.
Buzzfeed claims to be THE social news and entertainment company. They are aiming to totally reinvent, or redefine the way we advertise online using its incredibly content driven approach to social engagement. I will admit that Buzzfeed does have some of the most awesome, shareable content that is often original and breaking news so i find myself on the website a lot. Point being that as a young startup looking for office space in Clerkenwell, we are not sure you can find a more exciting company to be around. Here’s a quick video on their website that made me laugh 🙂
MOVEGuides is another one of my recent favourites, as it helps companies and employees relocate all around the world; they refer to it as ‘mobility management’ – helping the best talent move globally. Now that sounds like a fun place to be and having just raised a series A round of funding this is another inspiring company to be near as a startup.
Picfair helps photographers realise their images are valuable, and sells them all around the world. Already in 111 countries this company cannot be classed as a startup anymore… more a grownup. So if you need that creative maturity surrounding your young business this might be the place for you.
With a serious slant toward greenery and space, light and beautiful furniture this is a lovely place to begin any company’s journey. We particularly like the ladder shelves… a stairway to [fill in the blank]???
This is a fantastic coworking office space that opened in 2010, above the famous Smithfield Market so you are certainly near the action on a Friday evening.
Innovation Warehouse is a community for entrepreneurs working on high impact startup businesses. This office space boasts being the home for high growth technology startups and offers a rich network of support with its own community, access to finance and advise.
Think of the conversations you might have at the ‘water cooler’!
Shared office space
And yep, you got it… there is plenty of shared office space too, with great advertising agencies like Aqueduct renting out spare desks to startups.
Can you imagine everything that you might learn about advertising and ‘growth hacking’ in a place like this…? Wow!
The tech community loves Clerkenwell
Companies that call Clerkenwell home are a bit like Clerkenwell themselves; small but packing a punch. Clerkenwell has been the birthplace for so many budding young companies thanks to General Assembly training the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Startups then move into the prestigious Techstars, one of the most prolific startup incubators in the world, based in The Warner Yard coworking space alongside dozens of other startups and VC Playfair Capital. Just round the corner is White Bear Yard, a cosy home for Passion Capital funded companies such as GoSquared and OpenSignal.
London’s most prolific startups DueDil, Transferwise, YPlan, Citymapper, and GoCardless were also born here and most still have offices in Clerkenwell along with (until recently stealthy startup) Improbable.
As one of the fastest growing tech neighbourhoods in London, no wonder Google Ventures decided to set-up camp here as well.
Clerkenwell ABCD (Architecture Branding Craft Design)
If you’re working in clerkenwell and you’re not a techie, you’re probably working in one of its fundamental industries. Architecture firms such as Kamvari, Grimshaw, Orms and BDP huddle together in the area taking inspiration from their surroundings and housing some of the most innovative thinkers in the world.
Where there are companies and creativity, there of course exist branding agencies such as Embrace and Shaw & Skerm. Craftsmen are spread out and fill the alleyways and the sidewinding roads of the Clerkenwell streets. However, Craft Central and Creative Clerkenwell bring them all together to connect and collaborate.
A reason to love this place is the mix of old and new with watchmakers such as The Antique Watch company and the Little Yellow Watch Shop having held their own here for years. Clerkenwell Design Week showcases the best design talent in the world every year, whilst the area is already home to firms like Design Bridge, Purple Creative and Apple & Pear Studio.
Culture in clerkenwell
Culture in Clerkenwell is very much influenced by the creatives who live, work and play here. Sadler’s Wells was rebuilt many times and played host to a diverse range of occupants over the years. It was used as pleasure gardens, theatre, aquatic display venue, music hall and even circus. Now, it’s a place to go for unforgettable dance theatre experiences.
After a show, make your way around the building. At the back, you will find a tiny pub blasting live music and serving quality ales. Only you and the locals will know about it, so make sure you keep it to yourself 😉
In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Clerkenwell Green is where Fagin and the Artful Dodger cajole Oliver into pickpocketing shoppers in the busy market once held there. For a little unusual day out (or even a lunch break!) head to Charles Dickens museum on Doughty Street.
Free Word is the place to go for an alternative night out. It’s the only international centre for literacy and free expression in the world. It’s also a great venue for talks, poetry readings, magazine launches and all kinds of written and spoken word.
A diamond in the rough
As well as Clerkenwell being a post-industrial haven and Hatton Garden being the epicentre of London’s diamond industry, the area boasts some of the best health and beauty spas based on natural chalybeate springs.
We talked to Rachel, who runs Kings of Clerkenwell hair salon and has been living and working in the area for over 18 years.
“My husband and I love going to Zetter Townhouse, it’s an old Georgian Farmhouse transformed into a hotel and nice cocktail bar. Clerkenwell used to be centred around Smithfield meat market and was a bit boring, it has certainly changed now”.
Going out in Clerkenwell
The residents here look for quality and authenticity in everything; food and drink doesn’t get forgotten. From Italian restaurants that span many generations to places like the Quality Chop House that sells everything from independent food magazines, homemade butter, farm eggs to anything and everything meat lovers can empty their pockets for.
Semi-pedestrian Exmouth market is open daily for lunch. That’s a place where many street food startups come test or launch their new products – be the first to find out!
Coffee & casual dining in Clerkenwell
For more casual dining, head to The Modern Pantry and for lunch time meetings we recommend Granger & Co. There are many places where you can head for quality coffee. Workshop Coffee Co. is one of them.
If you need a place with eclectic ambience and inspirational buzz to let your mind flow or hit the keyboard, Workshop is your number one choice. Don’t expect a table at lunch as it’s always very busy, or make sure you get their before everyone else does… you have been warned.
What do you like about working in Clerkenwell?
Hannah works at the Prop House, we spotted her walking down Exmouth market. What does she like about the area? “Ah, it must be the restaurants. There’s so much good food around here! And the wine! No-one seems to realise we have the best wineries too”.
So, this is the ultimate roundup to working in Clerkenwell offering you all the ‘tip bits’ you need to find the best work life balance. And if Clerkenwell looks like a place for you…. Awesome! We have a bunch of amazing offices to choose from, Hubble them here.
Don’t fancy it just yet? Check out the rest of the Hubble Blog