Capital festival celebrates design in a big way

Festival puts design spotlight on Canberra

Latest in Travel
See art in the making at open studios. Photo: Five Foot Photography

See art in the making at open studios. Photo: Five Foot Photography


Design will be the word on everyone's lips during this three-week festival in the national capital.


The nation's capital will be celebrated as a global city of design and a living design laboratory during DESIGN Canberra from November 9-29.

Now in its seventh year, the festival will present more than 200 events including exhibitions; talks by industry leaders such as acclaimed architect Michael Dysart, leading social commentator and business analyst Bernard Salt and internationally renowned glass maker Kirstie Rea; tours and access to architectural gems including the Shine Dome, a film festival, workshops and artist open studios.

This year's theme is Care.

A highlight will be artist Hannah Quinlivan's newly commissioned site-specific installation Desiderium, a large scale ephemeral 3D spatial drawing that explores the social atmosphere after periods of crisis including Australia's recent red summer, the subsequent COVID-19-induced health and economic crisis, and the fissures that have risen in our communities and collective mood.

Desiderium features a suspended large-scale light sculpture installed at the City Walk entry to Monaro Mall that forms the centrepiece of a vocal performance by classical vocalists as they move through the space.

The new Design Revisited event series celebrates outstanding design in Canberra across different disciplines and decades. It will offer a range of talks and tours by award winning architects and designers exploring iconic architectural landmarks and contemporary design throughout the city.

Take a look behind the scenes at Shine Dome. Photo: Martin Ollman

Take a look behind the scenes at Shine Dome. Photo: Martin Ollman

They include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Shine Dome, architecture strolls and small group tours.

See the full Design Revisited program HERE

Open studios

Returning this year across three weekends is the always popular Open Studios program that allows members of the public to visit the studios of some of Canberra's best designers and makers.

It offers the chance to discover the secrets of artistic practice and buy contemporary handmade ceramics, furniture, textiles, glass and more directly from the artists.

Also on the program is a series of hands-on workshops with leading makers, ranging from ceramics and glass through to floristry and Japanese Riso printing.

The graphic intervention project will transform parts of the city with three new installations.

It's an opportunity for designers to develop site-specific works to transform large-scale public spaces and show them in a new light and from new perspectives.

Exhibitions featuring more than 90 artists will showcase leading contemporary craft and design.

Highlights include two signature exhibitions by Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre: HOME:MADE, which features a curated selection of new furniture, homewares and jewellery by leading early-career designers and makers from across Australia; and c/o Craft ACT: 2020 Annual Members Exhibition, showcasing current trends in contemporary craft and design, illustrating how care underpins a maker's commitments.

Other exhibitions include From An Untouched Landscape by multi-disciplinary contemporary visual artist James Tylor that sheds light on the contemporary absence of Aboriginal culture within the Australian landscape; and Designed in Italy, Made in Australia: the Australian work of Pier Luigi Nervi which offers unique insight into the 15-year collaboration between acclaimed architects Harry Seidler (1923-2006) and Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1978) that took place between Italy and Australia including iconic buildings such as Australia Square, the MLC Centre and the TGO Edmund Barton Building.

For the first time, DESIGN Canberra will present Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival that explores our relationship with materials and making. The program features 28 short films from around the world including documentaries, maker profiles, music videos and hand-crafted animations that celebrate craft in all its facets.

Other festival highlights include the annual BMW Twilight Drive where visitors have the opportunity to test drive new BMW models while touring design destinations throughout the capital.

For more details about 2020 DESIGN Canberra program click HERE