2021 DESIGN Canberra Call Out

Our 2021 DESIGN Canberra festival theme is… TRANSFORMATION

DESIGN Canberra is calling for projects for the 2021 festival that align with the theme of ‘Transformation‘.

Rachael Coghlan, CEO and Artistic Director explains, ‘In the context of the upheaval and disruption of the global pandemic and other confronting experiences of 2020, we have a shared responsibility and extraordinary opportunity to achieve real transformation.

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. We hope that (after a well-earned rest at the end of 2020), 2021 creates momentum to build a more resilient, connected, creative and responsible way of living. The eighth edition of the DESIGN Canberra festival asks what should we retain and what can we discard 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 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, 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,’ said Coghlan.

We committed to this theme of transformation in 2019, but as 2020 draws to a close and uncertainty remains, this vision for the next DESIGN Canberra festival seems more timely than ever. Craft ACT’s artistic and public programs, including our major outreach DESIGN Canberra, will celebrate transformation – fostering innovation, facilitating quality discourse, supporting professional development and promoting social inclusion. We hope you can be part of it.

Submit your proposals by 8 March 2021.

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.

DESIGN Canberra is also the ACT’s fastest growing festival. 2020 was an amazing year of inspiration, excellence and engagement – a result of creative collaborations and strategic partnerships with Canberra’s craft and design sector and the broader community. In 2020, over 84,000 people engaged with the festival’s curated program of exhibitions, talks, tours, collaborations, open homes and artist studios and activations showcasing the best in design.

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.

There are many ways to get involved:

  • Architecture: Architects and homeowners are invited to propose recent projects for both contemporary and heritage architecture programs. Architecture programs are always popular with festival audiences and offer a rare opportunity for festival visitors to explore some of Canberra’s finest houses and buildings.
  • Exhibitions: Artists and galleries with exhibitions speaking to the festival theme and coinciding with festival dates (8-28 November 2021) are invited to submit a proposal for inclusion in the 2021 program.
  • General ideas: DESIGN Canberra welcomes proposals that speak to festival values and themes that may include events, tours, workshops, activations, installations, design-related performances, public talks, publication launches, food and drink offerings, wellness, online works or research. Participants may be individual makers, a collective, cultural or educational institution, businesses, researchers or a government agency.


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


(Top, L-R) Keiko Amenomori-Schmeisser, Folding Gold, photo by Craft ACT; Zoe Brand, Genuine Festive GOLD, photo supplied; Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Medium Bulrushes Eel Trap, photo supplied.

(Bottom, L-R) Hendrik Forster & Kenny Son, The Teapot Project (process), photo by Youmee Jeon; Skeehan x Stellen, photo courtesy of Lane Crawford, Local Design; Sam Gold, photo by Sam Roberts.