DESIGN Canberra

MEDUSA, Valencia, Spain - photo by Plastique FantastiqueCanberra will once again prove itself as an innovative and globally recognised city of design, as DESIGN Canberra takes over the nation’s capital for three weeks this November 2019.

Now in its sixth year, the festival is a constantly evolving platform to showcase the city’s thriving design community and this year is presenting their biggest program ever with over 200 events, exhibitions, talks, tours, activations, markets, collaborations, artists’ studios and open homes.

DESIGN Canberra 2019 employs the concept of utopia to harness the power of imagination to shape the future of design – in Canberra and the world. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the iconic Bauhaus design movement which reflected the utopian ideas of its time, DESIGN Canberra will celebrate the city’s Bauhaus connections and enduring legacy.

“Design Canberra leverages support from our expansive national and international creative network in a celebration of Canberra’s world-class local design,” said Rachael Coghlan, CEO & Artistic Director of Craft ACT: Craft & Design. After our record-breaking attendance last year, we are so excited to be continuing to promote contemporary and intelligent design that, at its heart, embodies so much of what Canberra is about.”

For the past three years, DESIGN Canberra has invited a local designer to create the look and feel of the festival aligning with the chosen theme. Canberra contemporary jeweller, Phoebe Porter, has been selected as the 2019 DESIGN Canberra designer-in-residence.

Referencing the form of the crane (familiar in Canberra skylines today), Phoebe’s new work, Elements of Balance, is deceptively simple. Two contrasting elements of equal weight balance each other perfectly. 5 grams of gold (a highly valued traditional material) is balanced against 5 grams of aluminium (an industrial material, representing progress and contemporary mass-produced objects of desire).

“To me, utopia is a vision of the ideal way to live in an ideal environment,” explains Porter. “But there is a central tension embodied in that concept: striving to achieve a state of utopia requires the careful balance of competing values to attain a harmonious society and life.”

In addition to the popular signature events, such as open homes and artist studios, highlights of the 2019 program include:

MEDUSA temporary architecture installation by Berlin-based design team, Plastique Fantastique, soon after their successful appearance at Venice Biennale. The installation represents experimentation, collaboration and innovation and is an exciting expression of contemporary European design.

• The 100th anniversary of the iconic Bauhaus design movement will be celebrated with Bauhaus in Canberra: the Seidler legacy. The Bauhaus movement redefined what design could do for society and reflected the utopian ideas of its time. The Bauhaus advocated for an understanding of composition, colour theory and craftsmanship.

• Inspired by the Murano glass chandelier that Italian architect Enrico Taglietti installed for the Italian Ambassador’s Residence in Canberra, Glass Utopia: Italian and Australian Glass will draw a parallel between the Venetian contemporary glass production and the Australian one. A selection of glass pieces by contemporary Italian and Australian designers will be displayed in order to stimulate a visual dialogue between the objects, activated by the numerous common elements.

• One of Australia’s most internationally renowned architects, John Andrews will be recognised for his bold, ‘aggressively utopian’ designs with a guided bus tour, photography competition, public talks, and a signature exhibition, The Practical Outsider: John Andrews curated by Tim Ross.

Civic Square will become the home of DESIGN Canberra 2019 as it transforms into a dedicated site for talks, entertainment, parties, performances, art, wellness and ideas during each working week. The centrepiece of Civic Square will be a large painted ground design decided by competition, and a temporary sculptural pavilion, commissioned by DESIGN Canberra and designed by the University of Canberra Faculty of Arts and Design team.

Continuing till Sunday 24 November, DESIGN Canberra Festival has been created for all interests and all ages, with most events throughout the festival free and easily accessible. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: MEDUSA, Valencia, Spain – photo by Plastique Fantastique