Ends in 4 days, 21 hours

DESIGN Canberra 
5–25 November 2018

DESIGN Canberra is calling for projects that celebrate and promote Canberra as a living design laboratory, a global city of design.

Submit your proposals by 30 April 2018.

The shape of things to come

The ACT’s fastest growing festival, DESIGN Canberra 2018 will celebrate the strong geometry present throughout our city and the ways it creates human, creative and global connections from Australia’s city of design.

Geometry is everywhere we look: inscribed on the earth, in our buildings and our city’s plan. Geometry contrasts with and responds to the surrounding landscape by creating borders and forming spaces. These spaces define Canberra. Triangles, concentric circles and arcs connect major avenues and underlie the city’s early planning.

We are calling for design projects to feature during the festival that reference or respond to geometry, Canberra’s distinctive form. While geometry is etched in the history of our city, it also establishes a blueprint for the shape of things to come and is rich with possibilities.

As well as celebrating our distinct geometric structure and visual language, this year DESIGN Canberra will emphasise the ephemeral nature of a festival. A design festival is by its nature an ephemeral intervention. Because of its temporary existence, we can widen boundaries, energise spaces and places, change perceptions, and look closely or with new eyes at our surroundings. The ephemeral unlocks novel opportunities for experimentation, transformation, problem solving and imaginative possibilities.

Organisers have heeded the call from DESIGN Canberra’s 2017 keynote speaker, New York Times design critic Alice Rawsthorn, to take seriously design’s responsibility as an agent for positive change in society. We hope to include in the 2018 program a public dialogue about the role and impact of design on the community, and how design can make life better.

DESIGN Canberra has resonated with Canberrans, the design sector and design lovers near and far because design is in Canberra’s DNA. From the time of Walter and Marion Griffin's visionary design a century ago, to iconic experimental architecture of the 1950s and 60s, through to contemporary and sustainable design developments today, Canberra has been — and always will be — a living design laboratory.

2017 was an amazing year of growth, inspiration, excellence and engagement – a result of creative collaborations and strategic partnerships with Canberra’s craft and design sector and the broader community. Last year, over 94,000 people engaged with the festival’s curated program of exhibitions, talks, tours, collaborations, open homes and artist studios, activations and markets showcasing the best in design.

From 5-25 November 2018, DESIGN Canberra will transform the nation’s capital, hosting over 100 events. Now in its 5th 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. 

How can I get involved?

In calling for proposals from across all design disciplines, we encourage a spirit of collaboration where Canberra’s creative community works together to showcase the best in contemporary design. We welcome proposals which align with the festival values, ambitions and aspirations including: contemporary, relevant, exploratory and authentic.

Whether you are an individual maker, a collective, a cultural or educational institution, a business, a researcher or a government agency, the festival provides a platform for a multi-faceted exploration of design arts and creative industries. DESIGN Canberra is attracting more, and new, audiences each year.

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Exhibitions

  • Events

  • Tours

  • Workshops

  • Activations

  • Installations

  • Design-related performance

  • Public talks

  • Publication launches

  • Food and fun

  • Online works

  • Research

Note that exhibitions can include dates before or after 5-25 November, but must have some overlap with DESIGN Canberra dates to be included in the 2018 program.

DESIGN Canberra encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers to submit proposals for the festival program.

What will DESIGN Canberra do to support my event?

DESIGN Canberra is the major outreach activity of Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. Last year, we attracted over 94,000 people to the festival.

We curate the festival program: we present opening and keynote events and exhibitions that form the backbone of the festival and provide a context for the events, exhibitions and activities of other presenters. We work with a network of stakeholders to present the festival and are generously supported and inspired by our design-focused corporate sponsors including Rolfe Classic BMW, home.by holly, and Vibe hotel. Events ACT provide ACT Government funding to underpin the presentation of the festival. In the lead up to the 2016 ACT election, the ACT Government committed to fund the festival every year from 2017-2020. This is a time for growth and long-term ambition.

Craft ACT has overall management responsibility for DESIGN Canberra, including governance, fundraising and high-level marketing and publicity. We are the central repository and contact point for a diverse range of presenters who engage with the festival. We manage a festival website on which all events will be listed and coordinate Design Canberra social media. These are the main channels to access the program for most attendees. In 2017, DESIGN Canberra had more than 700,000 social media impressions and 106,000 web page views. 

We produce and distribute a hard-copy festival flyer for high-level promotion and featured events and exhibitions. We send electronic newsletters to DESIGN Canberra followers who have been signing up since 2014. We will engage with selected proposals on cross-promotion and DESIGN Canberra branding requirements.

Please note that we can’t provide travel or reimbursement for travel costs for your involvement in the festival. Although we cannot provide artist fees, we encourage you to include in your program a way to generate income to support your practice and project. This could include selling your work and/or charging a ticket price. In 2017, artists and designers in DESIGN Canberra generated nearly over $142,000 income directly through open studio, market sales and exhibitions.

I’ve submitted my proposal. What next?

Thank you for submitting a proposal to DESIGN Canberra. We can’t wait to hear what you have in mind and hope to work with you to present an inspiring and creative festival in 2018.

We hope to let you know by 17 May 2018 if your proposal will be included in the 2018 festival program.

A curatorial panel will review the proposals and determine which ideas make a good fit with the 2018 festival program. The panel will include the Artistic Director and Project Manager of DESIGN Canberra as well as two members of the Design Canberra committee of cross-disciplinary experts and collaborators.

What if my proposal is accepted?

Congratulations! Your event will be included in DESIGN Canberra 2018.

Once we advise that your proposal has been accepted, we will ask you for additional information for marketing and promotional purposes. This will include text and images, with credits, that we can use on the DESIGN Canberra website.

We will ask for evidence of your public liability insurance (PLI) coverage. If you are a Craft ACT member, your membership also buys you PLI coverage.

We will also provide you with DESIGN Canberra key promotional dates and information about how we can best promote your project and how you can best promote your participation in DESIGN Canberra.

The festival has a growing, but still limited, budget for marketing. Increasing public and interstate recognition of the festival is where the bulk of that money goes and that is in the interest of all participants. Running a successful project or event in DESIGN Canberra is a collaborative endeavour. We require you to bring your audiences to DESIGN Canberra and in turn we will do what we can to bring awareness of the DESIGN Canberra audience to your project. In our experience, projects in the festival are successful when all parties actively promote their participation to their own networks and communities, and we share in each other’s hard work.


You will be responsible for:

  • Organisation of your activity
  • Staffing during your activity
  • All relevant insurances and public liability (Craft ACT members have insurance included in their membership)
  • Ensuring safety of any/all participants for your activity
  • All costs associated with your activity
  • Delivery of promotional information by due dates (as requested by Craft ACT) to be used for promotional purposes

What happens if my proposal is not successful?

We will let you know if your proposal is not accepted. Please don’t be discouraged or disheartened if your proposal is unsuccessful. It simply is not possible to include all proposals in the program. If you’d like to be involved in the festival, we welcome volunteers and interns to help on a range of programs. We hope to see you at the festival.

Fees and charges

In most instances, DESIGN Canberra does not charge a fee to participate in the festival. DESIGN Canberra relies on the generous support of sponsors and partners to deliver a quality, creative and engaging program of events. Commercial operators or entities may be invited to become a sponsor of the festival where appropriate. Commercial operators who wish to participate without sponsoring the festival will be charged a participation fee or commission, commensurate with the event. Advertising packages will also be available. For more information contact designcanberra@craftact.org.au

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