Design Canberra 2021 logo

Sam Gold. Photo: Sam Roberts
Sam Gold. Photo: Sam Roberts

Open Call for DESIGN Canberra 2021

DESIGN Canberra
8–28 November 2021

DESIGN Canberra is calling for projects for the 2021 festival which celebrate design excellence, design history and/or design education. We especially encourage proposals which respond to the theme of ‘transformation’.

Submit your proposals by 8 March 2021

DESIGN Canberra celebrates and promotes 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.

Our 2021 festival theme is… TRANSFORMATION

Even in the midst of upheaval and disruption during the global pandemic and other confronting experiences of 2020, we are seeing profound transformation taking place all around us.

From working from home and meeting online, to virtual study and graduations, changing business models to better serve the community during shutdown, to making more time to support loved ones, neighbours and people who struggled the most in this most demanding year.

After world changing events, history has shown that citizens, business, and communities have responded with a celebration of life and gratitude and a burst of entrepreneurial energy. At the time of writing, the risk of the virus remains; but we hope that 2021 creates momentum to build a more resilient, connected, caring, creative and responsible way of living.

We have a shared responsibility and extraordinary opportunity to achieve real transformation. The eighth edition of the DESIGN Canberra festival asks what should we retain and what can we discard from our 2020 experiences to connect more meaningfully as a community, to nurture wellbeing and health, celebrate creativity and reduce our burden on the environment? Can design foster a vibrant, equitable, sustainable and innovative society?

The festival theme of Transformation arose from our planning for Craft ACT’s 50th – golden – anniversary which takes place in 2021. We explored the values, tradition and symbolism of gold and, through that, associations such as alchemy and transformation. We remain constantly inspired by the ways that artists and designers transform raw materials and ideas into objects, spaces and buildings to creatively express layers of meaning, history and connection from the domestic to the public sphere. Since 1971 CraftACT has played a vital role in sustaining Australia’s high-quality studio practice and supporting craftspeople, designers and audiences. We are proudly one of Australia’s longest continuous-running membership organisations in the visual arts and we celebrate the many ways our close-knit community has nurtured and transformed artists’ practice for half a century.

There are many ways to get involved:

Please note: A separate call-out for DESIGN Canberra Open Studios will happen in early 2021.

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


Get in touch with Design Canberra if you need more information.

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.