Clerkenwell Design Week 2016:five must-see exhibits and installations for the design festival first-timer

The top five must-see events at this year's Clerkenwell Design Festival include Tom Dixon's installation 'The Church' and the exclusive launch of Benjamin Hubert's 3D-printed wheelchair...

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Clerkenwell Design Week is buzzing. This three-day festival is packed with exhibitions, workshops and talks held in some of the city's most atmospheric and historic buildings. 

With all the action contained within two-and-a-half square miles, it's easy to stroll from venue to venue. But if you're short on time, here are the highlights not to miss:

1. 'The Church' by Tom Dixon
Tipped as one of the must-see exhibitions long before CDW's launch yesterday, Tom Dixon's 'The Church' hasn't disappointed the crowds.

Against the backdrop of St James' Church in the heart of Clerkenwell, Dixon's collaboration with Vicar Andrew Baughen includes a giant 'Curve' chandelier installed in the main space and a co-working environment.

A route around CDW is mapped out by striking splashes of purple and Giles Miller's abstract 'wayfinding' signage sculptures. Image: Sophie Mutevelian


2. Brewhouse Yard, just off St John's Street
As good place as any to start for the Clerkenwell first-timer, Brewhouse Yard is acting as the gateway to the festival's showrooms this year - but it's also a space for networking and work stations. 

Striking purple marks the social space, which includes a café, information point and public seating area.

The first day of the festival saw Brewhouse Yard transformed into a cooperative working space, too, with offices and showrooms throwing open their doors - and on such a beautiful day it was difficult to see where the office-feel ended and the beachy-vibe began. 

With cooking displays and bustling bars, the Brewhouse Yard is a relaxed spot to map out the rest of your CDW route from.


3. Platform at the House of Detention 
Platform at the House of Detention is the place to check out up-and-coming designers. Over 40 emerging talents are displaying their designs in the former vaults of a Victorian prison. Don't miss the chance to discover new ideas, cutting-edge design - and designers - in this atmospheric venue. 

Adorning the venue's cell walls is work by Archie Proudfoot, an artist and sign painter, whose ‘A Gilded Cage’ exhibit combining gold, glass and steel is the first time he has shown three-dimensional work.

A Platform for new talent: over 40 up-and-coming designers are on display in the House of Detention. Image: Sophie Mutevelian


4. GO Chair by Benjamin Hubert

Industrial designer Benjamin Hubert has launched his made-to-measure 3D-printed wheelchair - the GO chair - and it's already creating quite a buzz.

The GO chair is an exclusive showcase at Clerkenwell's Design Undefined, a selection of projects, workshops and events exploring blurred boundaries and upturned conventions in design. 

The design space is at 155 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3AD. 


5. Goldsmiths centre for Conversations at Clerkenwell

Be introduced to new products and network with the professionals at CDW's talks programme. Some of the events are ticketed and already sold out, so check the festival programme before you go. 

Highlights of Conversations at Clerkenwell this year include Tom Dixon on material possibilities, Jurgen Bey on progressive office furniture, Sam Jacob on digital design, Daniel Libeskind and Patrizia Moroso and John Pawson on the new Design Museum...


Tips for visitors pressed-for-time: 

  • Look out for Giles Miller's abstract 'wayfinding' signage sculptures which provide a clear route with their 3D designs - you won't miss them!
  • The festival has partnered with 25 local restaurants and cafés this year, including Bourne and Hollingsworth, Burger and Lobster, Hix and Polpo.
  • Stretching further north this year, the festival's new space Design Fields has a good range of UK and international contemporary design on show.
  • New for 2016, British Collection is held in the barrel-roofed Crypt on Clerkenwell Green of St James' Church and will have home-grown talent and latest furniture designs in one unique space.

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