2021 Open studio call out

From 8–28 November 2021, DESIGN Canberra will transform the nation’s capital, hosting over 200 events. We feel incredibly grateful DESIGN Canberra was one of the few events that was able to proceed in 2020. Our format of small talks, tours and events, combined with outdoor public installations, lent itself well to changing COVID-19 restrictions and this has meant that we can approach 2021 with the confidence that we can deliver another exciting, safe festival this year, no matter what the restrictions are.

Now in its 8th year, DESIGN Canberra increases its reach and engagement each year, linking makers and designers with new audiences and forging unexpected collaborations and marketplace connections. DESIGN Canberra is the major outreach activity of Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, a not-for-profit membership-based organisation which supports artists, craft practitioners, designers and makers at every stage of their careers.

Call for Expressions of Interest to Participate – Open Studios

Open Studios have been a feature of DESIGN Canberra since the 2014 festival. An Open Studio is a unique opportunity for the general public to engage directly with artists and designers, to learn about, and hopefully to purchase their work. Collectively, the program also makes an invaluable contribution to DESIGN Canberra’s efforts to create a culture that values craft artists and designers and the work they produce. As we work hard to attract new and more diverse audiences for design, Open Studios are a revealing part of the festival’s offering and one of the main ways we aim to give benefit back to Craft ACT members.

Each year DESIGN Canberra gains more experience in what makes an Open Studio successful for both makers and attendees. Building on lessons learned over the past seven years, each year we adjust the format based on feedback from participants and audiences. In 2021 we will be running Open Studios across each Saturday of the festival, from 10am – 4pm. Your Open Studio marketing pack will include: Open Studio flyers (printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks), re-useable corflute signage, festival posters and brochures. Last year over 6,200 people attended Open Studios over three Saturdays.

There are ideas from successful Open Studios, both practical and creative, you may want to consider in thinking about hosting an open studio that works for you and the visitors to the studio:

  • Ceramicist Bev Hogg makes an event of her annual open studio, now timed to coincide with DESIGN Canberra. She enlists multiple volunteer helpers to be on hand to greet and talk to visitors, serves food, has music and promotes as heavily as possible through social media and other communication channels.
  • Previously, a collective of makers have held “Tea in the Potters Garden” in an open studio at Watson Arts Centre that combined the ritual of tea drinking with their sale of ceramics. They also incorporated musicians and florists and promoted the event heavily using beautiful photographs through social media (do you see a trend developing here about the use of social media… )
  • Wood artist Hiroshi Yamaguchi had flocks of people, especially families, to his studio where he was offering chopstick making workshops. For a small cost, visitors could make their chopsticks and take them home.
  • Other ideas may be to host scheduled live demonstrations, hands-on family activities, a ‘seconds sale’ or to collaborate with another maker.
  • In brief, it’s worth thinking about how you can do something to create an experience for visitors while being authentic to your craft.

Prior to the festival, Craft ACT will run a professional development workshop for members in hosting a successful open studio. Details will be released closer to the date.

Who can hold an Open Studio?
All open studios nominated by Craft ACT members will be accepted. Open studio events nominated by non-members will be included by selection by Craft ACT and that selection will be final. Past experience has shown that people are more interested in studios of makers than professional environments such as architecture offices, however, we welcome nominations from all different types of studios.

When to hold your Open Studio:
We will run Open Studios on each Saturday of the festival – Saturday 13, 20 and 27 November. Our aim will be to cluster the studios together by location to make it as easy as possible for attendees. The opening times will be 10am-4pm each of those days. As you fill out the form you will be asked about your preference among those dates and we will do our best to meet people’s requests. We would ask that you please be as flexible as possible when indicating your availability, as it is always tricky to accommodate everyone’s first preferences.

You will be responsible for:

  • Organisation of your Open Studio
  • Staffing during your Open Studio
  • All relevant insurances and public liability (Craft ACT Accredited Professional Members and Associate Members have insurance included in their membership)
  • Ensuring safety of any/all participants for your Open Studio
  • All costs associated with your Open Studio
  • Payment of the Participation Fee (for non-members of Craft ACT)
  • Delivery of promotional information by due dates (as requested by Craft ACT) to be used for promotional purposes
  • Helping to promote your Open Studio through social media etc
  • Keeping a count of visitors (where possible)
  • Completing a short survey for reporting purposes

What will DESIGN Canberra do?

DESIGN Canberra festival will manage the Open Studios program overall, including selecting and coordinating open dates and times among the nominated studios. DESIGN Canberra will promote the Open Studios program through the festival’s marketing and publicity. We will provide signage for outside the studio and make posters available for studio holders to display in the lead up to your event.

Participation fee
Hosting an Open Studio in DESIGN Canberra is free to members of Craft ACT: Craft & Design Centre. For non-members, if your proposal is accepted, you will be asked to pay a Participation Fee, of $110, when you provide your final information. Become a member of Craft ACT – membership starts from $66.

Submissions close Monday 3 May 2021.

Apply now


Cover image: Sarah Humphrey open studio
Top image: Angela Bakker open studio
Table images (L-R): Kirstie Rea, Thor's Hammer, SKEEHAN, Julie Ryder, Annie Trevillian and ANCA Mitchell open studios.
All photography by 5 Foot Photography