DESIGN Canberra festival guide: The design collector – Design Canberra Festival

Madisyn Zabel. Photo: Lean Timms.
Madisyn Zabel. Photo: Lean Timms.

DESIGN Canberra festival guide: The design collector

A collector is someone who has a keen eye for a particular thing. They rarely settle, and instead they search the world high and low to find what they are looking for. They are inspired by and resonate with the creator and their works. They are someone who lives with the art or design and it becomes a part of who they are; a part of their personality.

Are you an explorer of art and design? Intrigued by its story and its past? Or inspired by work and hand-picked pieces to curate and become a part of your life?

Then the 2020 DESIGN Canberra Festival is your chance to find and collect works by designers who live and work in Canberra. Here is our pick of what you won’t want to miss on this year’s program:


Kirstie Rea. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

If you’re a lover of discovering new makers and buying straight from the artist, you’ll want to keep your finger on the pulse of the 2020 Open Studios lineup. On Open Studio days, you can go direct to the studios, meet makers to gain an insight into their practice and philosophy, and buy directly from them. On Saturday this week from 10am-4pm, you can explore studios including Spinners and Weavers & Textile works, Annie Trevillian, and ANCA Mitchell with Bart Beswick, Lisa Sammut, Lymesmith, Michael Armstrong, Oscar Gardner, Priyanka Kaul, SKEEHAN, Tender Trade, and Christopher Dalzell, plus many more.

This week is also a great time to familiarise yourself with DESIGN Canberra festival hub in the Monaro Mall on City Walk. Here you can explore engaging exhibitions like A Common Thread, which is a contemporary and multidisciplinary collaboration between emerging makers Sam Gold and Harriet McKay, or see the works of Canberra’s artists of the future at Emerging Contemporaries, featuring local early-career artists. It will also be home to talks, workshops, events and wellbeing sessions throughout the whole festival.

Round out week one with City Sessions at the DESIGN Canberra festival hub on City Walk, from 4.30pm on Friday. Sit back, relax and take in live music from Cathy Diver against the backdrop of iconic mid-century design and architecture, complemented by a contemporary art installation by Canberra artist Hannah Quinlivan and a graphic intervention ground mural by fellow Canberra artist Hannah Gason.

And on Saturday, you might want to take a trip to Stromlo Cottage in Coombs for the Cottage Eco Market, where you can browse and shop up-cycled or sustainable fashion, homewares and other goods. You can also check out the launch of the new recycled sculpture commissioned by Molonglo Conservation Group as part of a Molonglo River clean up activity.

Wybalena Grove. Photo: 5 Foot Photography


So with Week 01 complete, let’s take a look at what’s on the program for week 02.

On Thursday night, head to the Shine Dome for Design Revisited to hear from architect Michael Dysart. The evening includes the premiere of a short documentary-style film interview between comedian and design nerd Tim Ross and Michael Dysart, specially commissioned by DESIGN Canberra.

Then it’s time to prepare yourself for a big Saturday out. Spend the day exploring and step into the studios and buy directly from some of Canberra’s best designers and makers during Week Two of the Open Studios. This weekend’s open studios include Kirstie Rea and Lucy Palmer, Monique van Nieuwland, Valerie Kirk and Avi Amesbury and Kindly Ceramics at Canberra Potter’s. If you can fit it in at 11am, pop into the Monaro Mall where some of the artists from the Canberra Centre exhibitions will discuss their works on display as part of the festival-long exhibitions.

Then from 2pm, head to Midnight Hotel where you can experience the immersive process of mindful menu design at Immersion: Cause and Effect. Taste selected wines against individual ingredients ranging in flavour, texture, and acid profile, in search for a unique match, and the process will assist the Executive Chef with menu design and curation for future events. If you’ve still got some gas in the tank, that’s followed directly by Saturday Sessions at Midnight Bar where you can join like-minded, design lovers for a weekly design unwind over a curated cocktail or locally brewed lager.

Yoga. Photo: 5 Foot Photography


Explore a curated selection of new furniture, homewares and jewellery by some of the most exciting early-career designers and makers from across Australia at HOME:MADE 20 at Canberra Contemporary Art Space. You might discover your new favourite artist.

Pop out for lunch on Wednesday and learn how to weave at the Spinners and Weavers workshop at the DESIGN Canberra Festival Hub. Learn all about the weaving different styles and techniques, before getting to work on your own creation. You will create your own small weaving to keep or gift to a loved one.

It’s been a big three weeks, so stretch it out on Thursday at a free morning yoga session at the DESIGN Canberra Festival Hub.

And Saturday is your last opportunity to visit a lineup of amazing local designers and makers during Week Three of Open Studios. Between 10am and 4pm, you can swing by studios including FINK Design, Atelier 818: Lisa Cahill, Storybird Studio, Pure Pod, Thor’s Hammer and plenty more.

Looking for more? There’s plenty more to see, do and experience during DESIGN Canberra 2020. Head to for the full program.

DESIGN Canberra acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding areas. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. We aim to respect cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.