City Hill. Photo: Martin Ollman

2019 program

DESIGN Canberra 2019: Utopia

4-24 November

DESIGN Canberra is calling for projects for the 2019 festival that celebrate and promote Canberra as a living design laboratory, a global city of design.

DESIGN Canberra has resonated with ever-increasing audiences near and far because design is in our city’s DNA. DESIGN Canberra is a powerful platform to promote design and the work of designers. Presented annually since 2014, DESIGN Canberra has grown to embrace a regional and global focus, becoming a critical and collaborative forum for contemporary, relevant, experimental and authentic design. Check out the 2018 festival report.

We organise and help curate multiple events such as exhibitions, tours and talks with numerous individuals and organisations. Our experienced creative team has a passion for facilitating ideas, connecting artists and bringing the right audiences to experience them. If you have an idea for an event, a partnership or just want to get involved with the festival, we would love to hear from you.

Our 2019 festival theme is… Utopia.

Submit your proposals by 4 March 2019.


Design is a powerful tool to build a better world and imagine a perfect future.

Utopia is an opportunity to reimagine the past, build a more creative and inclusive present, and boldly experiment with the future of design.

  • Celebrate the Bauhaus’ 100th anniversary which brought together craft, skill and innovation and had a distinct impact on Canberra’s built environment and creative community.
  • Take seriously design’s responsibility as an agent for positive change in society
  • Challenge ideals of perfection
  • Make visible design and designers to new audiences.

About DESIGN Canberra

DESIGN Canberra has resonated with Canberrans, the design sector and design lovers near and far because design is in Canberra’s DNA. From the time of Walter and Marion Griffin’s visionary design a century ago, to iconic experimental architecture of the 1950s and 60s, through to contemporary and sustainable design developments today, Canberra has been — and always will be — a living design laboratory.

From 4-24 November 2019, DESIGN Canberra will transform the nation’s capital, hosting over 150 events. Now in its 6th year, DESIGN Canberra increases its reach and engagement each year, linking makers and designers with new audiences and forging unexpected collaborations and marketplace connections. DESIGN Canberra is the major outreach activity of Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, a not-for-profit membership-based organisation which supports artists, craft practitioners, designers and makers at every stage of their careers.

A snapshot of the incredible results from our 2018 festival can be found HERE

How can I get involved?

There are many ways to get involved in DESIGN Canberra 2019. We are currently calling out for General SubmissionsArtist Open StudiosLiving Rooms and Exhibition Listings. Submissions close 4 March 2019.

We will be calling out for Volunteers, Design Ambassadors and Competition Entries later in the year, so watch this space.

Tell us about your project

In calling for proposals from across all design disciplines, we encourage a spirit of collaboration where Canberra’s creative community works together to showcase the best in contemporary design. We welcome proposals which align with the festival values, ambitions and aspirations including: contemporary, relevant, exploratory and authentic.

Whether you are an individual maker, a collective, a cultural or educational institution, a business, a researcher or a government agency, the festival provides a platform for a multi-faceted exploration of design arts and creative industries. DESIGN Canberra is attracting more, and new, audiences each year.

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Events
  • Tours
  • Workshops
  • Activations
  • Installations
  • Exhibitions
  • Design-related performance
  • Public talks
  • Publication launches
  • Food and fun
  • Online works
  • Research

Note that proposals can include dates before or after 4–24 November, but must have some overlap with DESIGN Canberra dates to be included in the 2019 program.

DESIGN Canberra encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers to submit proposals for the festival program.

Click HERE to make a proposal.

Artist open studios

Open Studios have been a feature of DESIGN Canberra since the 2014 festival. An Open Studio is a unique opportunity for the general public to engage directly with artists and designers, to learn about, and hopefully to purchase, their work. Collectively, the program also makes an invaluable contribution to DESIGN Canberra’s efforts to create a culture that values craft artists and designers and the work they produce. As we work hard to attract new and more diverse audiences for design, Open Studios are a revealing part of the festival’s offering and one of the main ways we aim to give benefit back to Craft ACT members.

Click HERE to make an Open Studio submission.

Living Rooms: architecture + design + craft = an open home with a difference

Living Rooms is DESIGN Canberra’s showcase of the best architect designed houses in Canberra which offer an insight into different housing typologies, showing firsthand how important good design is to day-to-day living.

Each open home will have a specially curated pop-up exhibition of work by emerging designers and craft practitioners; typically in dining rooms or on kitchen benches, with work on display for sale to the public. These artists are Craft ACT members. Not a member? Join today!

Opening homes to the public on each Sunday of the festival, Living Rooms shines the light on the value of engaging an architect and celebrates architecture, design and craft in Canberra.

We are calling out for architecturally designed or renovated homes to feature in the 2019 Living Rooms program. Click HERE to make a Living Rooms submission.

Free Exhibition listings

Will you be hosting a design-related exhibition in November? DESIGN Canberra offers free program listings for suitable exhibitions.

Note that exhibitions can include dates before or after 4–24 November, but must have some overlap with DESIGN Canberra dates to be included in the 2019 program.

Click HERE to list your exhibition.

What will DESIGN Canberra do to support my event?

DESIGN Canberra is the major outreach activity of Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. In 2018, we attracted over 112,000 people to the festival. Craft ACT curates the festival program, presenting opening and keynote events and exhibitions that form the backbone of the festival and providing a context for the events, exhibitions and activities of other presenters. We work with a network of stakeholders to present the festival and are generously supported and inspired by our design-focused corporate sponsors including Canberra Centre, Rolfe Classic BMW, home. by holly, University of Canberra, Cre8ive, the Australian National University and Vibe Hotel. Events ACT provide ACT Government funding to underpin the presentation of the festival. The ACT Government has committed to fund the festival every year from 2017-2020. This is a time for growth and long-term ambition.

Craft ACT has overall management responsibility for DESIGN Canberra, including governance, fundraising and high-level marketing and publicity. We are the central repository and contact point for a diverse range of presenters who engage with the festival. We manage a festival website on which all events will be listed and coordinate Design Canberra social media. These are the main channels to access the program for most attendees. In 2018, DESIGN Canberra had more than 700,000 social media impressions and 164,000 web page views.

We produce and distribute a hard-copy festival flyer for high-level promotion and featured events and exhibitions. We send electronic newsletters to DESIGN Canberra followers who have been signing up since 2014. We will engage with selected proposals on cross-promotion and DESIGN Canberra branding requirements.

DESIGN Canberra provides a platform for linking makers and designers with new audiences and forging collaborations and marketplace connections. In 2018, artists and designers in DESIGN Canberra generated over $170,000 income directly through open studios, market sales and exhibitions. While we cannot provide funding for projects in the festival, we encourage you to include in your program a way to generate income to support your practice and project. This could include selling your work and/or charging a ticket price. DESIGN Canberra is also open to seeking collaborative funding opportunities for appropriate projects.

How do I submit my proposal?

Click HERE to submit a proposal.

Click HERE to make an Open Studio submission.

Click HERE to make a Living Rooms submission.

Click HERE to list your exhibition.

I’ve submitted my proposal. What next?

Thank you for submitting a proposal to DESIGN Canberra. We can’t wait to hear what you have in mind and hope to work with you to present an inspiring and creative festival in 2019.

We hope to let you know by 5 April 2019 if your proposal will be included in the 2019 festival program.

A curatorial panel will review the proposals and determine which ideas make a good fit with the 2019 festival program. The panel will include the Artistic Director and Project Manager of DESIGN Canberra as well as members of the Design Canberra committee of cross-disciplinary experts and collaborators.

What if my proposal is accepted?

Congratulations! Your event will be included in DESIGN Canberra 2019.

Once we advise that your proposal has been accepted, we will ask you for additional information for marketing and promotional purposes. This will include text and images, with credits, that we can use on the DESIGN Canberra website.

We will ask for evidence of your public liability insurance (PLI) coverage. If you are a Craft ACT member, your membership also buys you PLI coverage.

We will also provide you with DESIGN Canberra key promotional dates and information about how we can best promote your project and how you can best promote your participation in DESIGN Canberra.

The festival has a growing, but still limited, budget for marketing. Increasing public and interstate recognition of the festival is where the bulk of that money goes and that is in the interest of all participants. Running a successful project or event in DESIGN Canberra is a collaborative endeavour. We require you to bring your audiences to DESIGN Canberra and in turn we will do what we can to bring awareness of the DESIGN Canberra audience to your project. In our experience, projects in the festival are successful when all parties actively promote their participation to their own networks and communities, and we share in each other’s hard work.

What happens if my proposal is not successful?

We will let you know if your proposal is not accepted. Please don’t be discouraged or disheartened if your proposal is unsuccessful. It simply is not possible to include all proposals in the program. There are many ways to be involved in the festival; we also welcome volunteers to help on a range of programs. We hope to see you at the festival!

Fees, charges and ticketing

In response to audience feedback, all ticketing will be managed by DESIGN Canberra. Free events will not incur any fees or charges and paid ticketed events will incur a 20% commission on ticket sales. Commercial operators who wish to participate may be invited to become a sponsor of the festival where appropriate, or will be charged a participation fee commensurate with the event. Advertising packages are also available. For more information contact