Ends on August 5, 2019

Call for speaker proposals

Calling designers, writers, bloggers, publishers, researchers, collectors and design lovers. Object Subject: 2019 National Design Writing Conference is an international platform for writers to address design as a positive change agent in society. 

At the inaugural national design writing conference, Object Subject (2017), keynote speaker and NY Times design critic Alice Rawsthorn called on the design sector to take seriously their responsibilities – social, environmental and ethical. This clarion call, teamed with multiple requests from national and international design writers to repeat the event, is a catalyst for the second design writing conference.

Presented as part of the popular DESIGN Canberra festival, Object Subject: 2019 National Design Writing Conference will build on the successful inaugural event, which inspired new conversations, connections and ideas, questioned the very role and responsibility of design, and resulted in the publication of a special issue of the international scholarly journal, Fusion.

Stay tuned for announcements about keynote speakers and other featured guests. Join our mailing list here.

Presentation types

We welcome proposals for presentations in a range of accessible and more formal formats. The below are suggestions only, if you have other ideas we would love to hear from you.


This is a 20-minute presentation followed by 5 minutes of questions and answers.

We recommend against reading entire papers, and suggest you use visual supports such as PowerPoint. Multiple-authored presentations are welcome.

Visual presentation/show and tell

Alternative format proposals are welcomed.

Public conversation

This is a 30-minute conversation between two participants on a proposed topic.

Panel discussion

This involves the panel chair introducing the session followed by 40 minutes of discussion among the panel followed by 5-10 minutes of questions and answers.

Proposed panel discussion topics:

  • Sustainability by design - how can design writing address global environmental crises?
  • Kindness in design - can design make the world a better place?
  • Representation - counteracting gender imbalance to represent the opinions, ideas, voices, objects and buildings of design
  • Beyond superficiality - using design to face unprecedented changes
  • The rise of digital - the changing role of the design critic and design writing in a digital age
  • Radical design communication - exploring alternatives to the written word and letting design speak for itself
  • Design storytelling and object narratives - sharing personal, local, cultural and community stories
  • Other: please suggest a panel discussion topic

Submission Guidelines

All proposals must be submitted through the Craft ACT submittable page, and must include:

  • Title 
  • Abstract/outline which clearly and concisely describes the subject and nature of the presentation e.g. keynote, paper, paper, visual presentation, public conversation, panel (max 400 words)
  • Presenter's name, affiliation, contact information, and brief biography (max 200 words)
  • Additional presenters, if any

Presenters must obtain all necessary authorisations and clearances from their organisation(s), prior to the start of the conference. Presentations shall be unclassified and cleared for release to the public. Presenters and panel chairs must register for the conference and pay the applicable registration fee.  

Full papers will be submitted after abstracts have been accepted.

Key Dates

5 August: Deadline for speaker proposals (including papers, panels and presentations)

16 August: Notification of accepted proposals

1 September: Early bird registration closes

7 October: Deadline for full papers (where applicable)

3 November: Registration closes

8-9 November: Conference

Registration & Fees

Early bird: $190.00 (save $100 off full price registration until Sunday 1 September 2019)

Speakers: $190

Full registration: $290.00

Student: $120.00

The registration fee includes:

  • Welcome reception (Thursday 7 November)
  • Admission to Object Subject conference sessions (Friday 8 November)
  • Lunch, morning and afternoon tea (Friday 8 November)
  • Ticket to DESIGN Canberra Opening Party and Auction (Friday 8 November)
  • Research Forum (Saturday 9 November; includes morning tea)

Register now


All papers submitted to Object Subject will undergo a peer-review process. Selected papers from the conference will be published in an online edition of Fusion journal (established by Charles Sturt University and the University of Lincoln, UK). This publication will investigate the contribution that contemporary craft and design makes to society, and establish a dialogue between craft and design practice and cultural, social and environmental concerns.


All questions about submissions should be emailed to designcanberra@craftact.org.au