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DESIGN Canberra Festival Guide: The Design Enthusiast

DESIGN Canberra Festival Guide: The Design Enthusiast

Are you filled with a strong passion and enthusiasm for all things design and craft?

The 2017 DESIGN Canberra Festival is your chance to really immerse yourself in the world of craft and design. We don’t want you to miss out, so here is your roadmap – your journey to DESIGN Canberra and all that it holds. Let’s get started…


Launch week of DESIGN Canberra is pretty jammed packed full of events, public talks and opportunities to gain loads of design inspiration. So, prepare yourself to be immersed in a design enthusiast’s paradise.

Start your 2017 DESIGN Canberra Festival experience off on 10 November with Object Subject: Inaugural National Design Writing Conference.

The Object Subject conference will be held at the iconic Shine Dome as a signature DESIGN Canberra event. For the first time, designers, writers, critics, bloggers, researchers, collectors, makers, curators and design lovers will come together to explore the creative and important ways that writing has become essential to the future of design.

After the conference, officially kick off the DESIGN Canberra festivities with a bang, at the Opening and Design Auction Party at The Fitters Workshop. Limited edition and one-off pieces from Canberra’s leading designers will be on display and up for auction. While you place your bids, an experimental lighting design installation by Matt Adey of House of Vnholy (Dark Mofo) will be setting the mood. Music, food and local beer, wine and spirits will be on offer.

Once you’ve recovered from all the partying, venture to the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday afternoon to see Alice Rawsthorn, award winning design critic for the New York Times, host a public talk which will explore the role of experimentation in design.

Alice Rawsthorn Photography Michael Leckie

Alice Rawsthorn Photography Michael Leckie

Finish off your Saturday with Pure Pod’s Designer Twilight Market at the new Dairy Road Studios, which will feature ethical designers of clothing, accessories, products and textiles. Head there to soak up the cool vibes, entertainment and enjoy beer tasting and yummy food on your spring twilight evening.

On Sunday 12 November it’s time for an early rise to explore the Living Rooms of acclaimed Canberra houses in the inner south, and discover pop-up exhibitions with works on sale by local artists, makers and craft practitioners. We guarantee you’ll find yourself wanting to head to all 4 living rooms – so pack a lunch and get ready to be inspired.

After a day exploring the homes of some of Canberra’s best, head to the opening event of Darren Bradley’s Canberra: Yesterday’s Vision of Tomorrow at EastSpace Gallery at 4pm. A self proclaimed “urban archaeologist”, photographer Darren Bradley has spent his free time in Canberra seeking out the heart and soul of our city, and it’s at this event where you will learn of his findings and see for yourself the vestiges of the visionary designs in this city. Too tired for another event? That’s okay the exhibition is open Thursday – Sunday during the festival – so make sure you tick it off!


With week one under your belt, what’s on the design agenda for week two of the festival?

Start this week off on any day by visiting the Canberra Centre’s new Monaro Mall Lifestyle Precinct, which acts as the central hub of this year’s festival. There you will find Everyday Beautiful, Home:Made, Local Milan and six degrees of separation exhibitions that showcase emerging and established designers from Canberra and across Australia.

Kate Banazi + Ryan McGoldrick, Tom Skeehan and ACV Studio

Spend Saturday 18 at Mary Featherston’s Public Talk at the National Portrait Gallery. Mary is an Interior Designer and was one of the inaugural inductees into the Design Institute of Australia Hall of Fame. This is most definitely an event you will not want to miss as Mary shares her wealth of knowledge from her experiences in the design industry.

Did someone say bus tours? You will be spoilt for choice between tailored artist studio tours, architecture tours and mid-century design tours around Canberra. Book your seat early to avoid missing out!

Box House Photographer: Aarthi Ayyar Biddle, 2015

Box House Photographer: Aarthi Ayyar Biddle, 2015

WEEK 03 

Across the weekend of the 24-26 November, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have your diary free.

Find out why Australian Parliament House has won so many architectural awards as you explore behind the scenes on a Design for Democracy Tour at Parliament House. This tour will have you discovering the fascinating symbolism and bespoke furniture collections of Parliament House.

Then, step inside the studios of Canberra’s best designers and makers to purchase contemporary handmade ceramics, furniture, textiles, glass and more, directly from the artists at their Open Studios event, held throughout the day on Saturday 25 November.

ANCA Mitchell

ANCA Mitchell

Conclude your weekend and your design enthusiast journey around DESIGN Canberra by heading to Undercurrent Design Market – where you will find original and contemporary Australian design and craft brought to you by The Curatoreum. This market will be in full swing at the National Portrait Gallery, just in time for Christmas!

Doesn’t sound like enough? Of course, there are many other events that you can partake in, see the full program here