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DESIGN Canberra: A unique shopping experience

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In a world so fixated with online, it’s a rewarding feeling to actually see the products you buy up close and know they were lovingly handmade by someone in your own city.

Even better is meeting the designer behind the creations face to face.

DESIGN Canberra, on from 21-29 November, offers you the chance to connect with designers, artists and makers and get a ‘one-on-one’ fix with creatives ready to tell their story.

More than 20 ACTivate spaces will be popping up across the city centre and wider area as part of DESIGN Canberra, reinvigorating empty shopfronts with pop-up exhibitions, shops, displays and engaging public events. There will be seven spaces, each with their own vibe.

ACTivate covers all bases, including those who create furniture, fashion, jewellery, textiles and sculptures.


Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.

Bringing a taste of rich Indigenous culture to the festival is the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF), which hosts more than 50 Indigenous owned and operated community art centres across Australia each year.

DAAF Director Claire Summers says the fair’s pop up at the festival, ‘Designs from the Bush’, will showcase designs from some of the most remote places in Australia, including far north Queensland and the Kimberley. 

“DESIGN Canberra is an incredible opportunity for our Foundation to share some of the extraordinary work that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres are creating,” she says.

“This is an opportunity for visitors to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous cultures through art. There are a range of styles, mediums and products available including paintings on canvas, bark paintings, works on paper including limited edition prints, sculpture, didgeridoos, fibre art and cultural regalia.”

One local designer popping up is surface pattern designer Claudia Owen, who will showcase her unique range of stationery, homewares, fashion and accessories.

Claudia Owen.

Claudia Owen.

Claudia is looking forward to “reaching out” to the Canberra community.

“Most things I do are online-based and I connect with lots of designers and customers online, but the majority are in other cities around the country or overseas, so I’m looking forward to connecting with people in my own local area,” she says.

“… people will be able to meet and get to know the designer that has put hours and hours of work into their pieces on display. I have some wonderful product photos of my work but nothing beats holding the item in your own hands.”

Anna Sutherland, behind fabric business Maddison Jayne Design, is appearing at DESIGN Canberra for the second time. She says last year visitors were “amazed” she designed her own patterns rather than outsourcing them. Anna recently expanded her business range to include toiletry and cosmetic sets, tea-towels and hand-printed/painted silk scarves.

Lazy Sunday.

Lazy Sunday Home.

“People tend to assume that handmade products these days are partly outsourced and not always created from beginning to end by the maker,” Anna says.

“I love people asking me questions about my products, how I have created the design and the process involved in screen-printing right through to my final product.”

ACTivate will take place at the following locations:

  • 5 Lonsdale St, Braddon (Thor).
  • 42-54 Northbourne Ave, the old North Bar.
  • 72 Northbourne Ave, near McDonald’s in Braddon.
  • 64 Northbourne Ave, behind the bus interchange (behind Tonic).
  • Garema Centre, Garema Place, Garema Centre (top level).
  • 16 Lonsdale St, Braddon, at Pod.

Run by Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, DESIGN Canberra is the territory’s most significant design event. This year the festival is bigger and better than ever, running across nine days with close to 70 activities involving more than 750 participants.

the essentials 
What: DESIGN Canberra
Where: Various locations around Canberra
Cost: Free
When: 21 to 29 November

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