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Become a DESIGN explorer this month

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Canberra is known for its architecture and the makers and creators who fill our wonderful city.

Design is in Canberra’s DNA. To stop and take a closer look you will find that our streets are full with of mid-century modernist architecture, makers with global recognition and hidden studio spaces that are producing furniture, homewares, jewellery and objects that purchased by people all over the world.

The DESIGN Canberra festival 2017 is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of craft and design. To explore the city and its makers whilst celebrating our mid-century modernist architecture. We don’t want you to miss out, so here is your roadmap – your journey to DESIGN Canberra and all that it holds. Let’s get started…


Launch week of DESIGN Canberra looks pretty jammed packed full of events, public talks and opportunities to gain loads of design inspiration. So, prepare yourself to be immersed in a design enthusiast’s paradise.

Start your 2017 DESIGN Canberra Festival experience off on 10 November with Object Subject: Inaugural National Design Writing Conference.

The Object Subject conference will be held at the Shine Dome as a signature DESIGN Canberra Object Subject event. For the first time, designers, writers, critics, bloggers, researchers, collectors, makers, curators and design lovers will come together to explore the creative and important ways that writing has become essential to the future of design.

After the conference, officially kick off the DESIGN Canberra festivities with a bang that night, at the Opening and Design Auction Party at The Fitters Workshop. Limited edition and one-off pieces from Canberra’s leading designers will be on display and up for auction. While you place your bids ab experimental lighting design installation by Matt Adey of House of Vnholy (Dark Mofo) will be setting the mood. Music, good and local spirits and wine will be on offer.

Once you’ve recovered from all the partying, venture to the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday afternoon to see Alice Rawsthorn – an award-winning design critic whose columns for the New York Times are syndicated worldwide – host a public talk which will explore the role of experimentation in design.

Alice Rawsthorn. Photography: Michael Leckie

Alice Rawsthorn. Photography: Michael Leckie

Finish off your Saturday with Pure Pod’s Designer Twilight Market at the new Dairy Road Studios, which will feature ethical designers of clothing, accessories, products and textiles. Head there to listen to cool vibes, be entertained, beer tasting and yummy food on your spring twilight evening.

On Sunday 12 November it’s time for an early rise to explore the Living Rooms of acclaimed Canberra houses in the inner north and inner south, and discover pop-up exhibitions with works on sale by local artists, makers and craft practitioners. We guarantee you’ll find yourself wanting to head to all four living rooms – so pack a lunch and get ready to be inspired.

Image: O'Connor House by de Rome Architects

Image: O’Connor House by de Rome Architects

You’ve just spent the day exploring the homes of some of Canberra’s best and it 4 pm – whats next? Head to the open event of Darren Bradley’s Canberra: Yesterday’s Vision of Tomorrow at EastSpace. A self-proclaimed “urban archaeologist”, photographer Darren Bradley has spent his free time in Canberra seeking out the heart of soul of our city, and it’s at this event where you will learn of his findings and see for yourself the vestiges of the visionary designs in this city. Too tired for another event? That’s okay, the exhibition is open Thursday – Sunday during the festival.


So, Week One is done. What’s on the agenda for the design agenda for week two of the festival?

Start this week off on any day of the week by stopping by and visiting the Canberra Centre Activation Spaces, which act as the centre point of this year’s festival. There you will find Everyday Beautiful, Home:Made, Local Milan and six degrees of separation exhibitions that showcases emerging and established designers from Canberra and across Australia.


Spend Saturday 18 at Mary Featherston’s Public Talk at the National Portrait Gallery. Mary is an Interior Designer and was one of the inaugural inductees into the Design Institute of Australia Hall of Fame. This is most definitely an event you will not want to miss as Mary shares her wealth and knowledge from her experiences in the design industry.

Did someone say bus tours choose between studio, architecture and mid-century design tours around Canberra – take your pick, this is your journey remember.


Across the weekend of the 24-26 November, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have your diary free.

Find out why Australian Parliament House has won so many architectural awards as you explore behind the scenes on a Design for Democracy Tour at Parliament House. This tour will have you discovering the fascinating symbolism and bespoke furniture collections of Parliament House.

Image: Martin Ollman

Image: Martin Ollman

Then, step inside the studios of Canberra’s best designers and makers to purchase contemporary handmade ceramics, furniture, textiles, glass and more, directly from the artists at their Open Studios event, held throughout the day on Saturday 25 November.

Conclude your weekend and your design enthusiast roadmap to DESIGN Canberra by heading to Undercurrent Design Market – Canberra’s design marketplace of the original and contemporary Australian design and craft brought to you by The Curatoreum. This market will be in full swing at the National Portrait Gallery, just in time for Christmas!

Harriet Schwarzrock at Undercurrent Markets. Photographer: Madeline McGuigan

Harriet Schwarzrock at Undercurrent Markets. Photographer: Madeline McGuigan

Doesn’t sound like enough? Of course, there are many other events that you can partake in, see the full program here

the essentials 

What: DESIGN Canberra 2017
When: 6-26 November
Where: Hundreds of locations across Canberra
More information:

Feature image: Martin Ollman

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