2020 DESIGN Canberra theme

In 2020, the value of care is more important than ever: for community, for creativity, for craft and for our world.

The 7th edition of DESIGN Canberra (9-29 November 2020) will become a collaborative forum for contemporary, experimental and authentic design to celebrate and explore the ways that care and caring is valuable and vital.

Canberra-raised contemporary visual artist Patricia Piccinini advocates for the intrinsic value and significant responsibility of care for everyone because ‘when you care for another it is much easier to care for the rest of the world ’. Her Skywhale (commissioned for the 2013 centenary of Canberra celebrations) expresses maternity and care and we look forward to meeting Skywhalepapa in 2020, who cares for multiple children in his pod (commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia).

At a time when many of us feel an urgency to commit to personal transformation to address the climate crisis, it is important to remember that care not only for the environment but for each other has never been more critical. Scientist Susan Moser explains that looking after one another will be vital to our future: “We keep talking about the three Fs: fight, flight, or freeze, but there is a fourth one, and that’s the one that actually helped us survive…. The forming of bonds, or the be-friending. That’s the piece that got us to cooperate as a species and recognize that we have greater advantage when we work together as opposed to everyone for themselves. ’

DESIGN Canberra is the primary outreach program for Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, one of the longest continuously running visual arts membership organisations in Australia, supporting artists, craft practitioners, designers and makers at every stage of their careers.

For the craft sector, care underpins a maker’s commitments: to forge new relationships to materials; to invest time to learn and develop techniques, skill and practice; and pay respect to craft’s tradition of exchange, mentoring and collaboration. As Kevin Murray (independent craft writer and curator) acknowledges, ‘The entry requirement for craft is a universal human capacity —care. This care for the world in using the gifts of nature to sustain and give meaning to our shared existence is an ideal to be found in all cultures.’


DESIGN Canberra is calling for proposals for the 2020 festival program. Find out more or make a submission here.

Submit your proposals by 4 March 2020.


[1] Skywhale creator unveils a companion, Skywhalepapa, to fly over Canberra by Naaman Zhou and Steph Harmon The Guardian Australia 20 November 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/20/skywhale-creator-unveils-a-companion-skywhalepapa-to-fly-over-canberra

[1] Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This. Earth Island Journal article by Laurie Mazur 22 July 2019 http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/despairing-about-climate-crisis/

[1] Australian Design Centre interview by Lisa Cahill https://australiandesigncentre.com/object-platform/interview-craft-renaissance/?fbclid=IwAR3C5QkAgCA5QC-WN3ngG42_Ja_ODaP_lSBZqdp7DnU9wBDVJXSmqpheRpg