DESIGN Canberra gears up for its biggest year yet
Returning for its fifth year from November 5 – 25, 2018
Published 23 October

Returning for its fifth year from November 5 – 25, 2018, the DESIGN Canberra Festival will continue to celebrate the ongoing growth and recognition of Canberra as a global city of design.

This year’s festival brings one of the most eclectic programs yet. Highlights include: one of the most significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture, Kengo Kuma; Australia’s leading practitioner of the late 20th century organic style of architecture, Enrico Taglietti; the 2018 designer-in-residence, furniture maker Chelsea Lemon; Design Diplomacy events in collaboration with Helsinki Design Week; the new City Art Program to enliven Civic; a type artist’s conference; hands-on workshops, Tim Ross and more.

“DESIGN Canberra has resonated with Canberrans, the design sector and design lovers near and far because design is in Canberra’s DNA. This year’s program will be full of new ideas, conversations, and innovations to further inspire what makes Canberra a living design laboratory,” said Rachael Coghlan CEO of Craft ACT and Artistic Director of DESIGN Canberra 2018.

This year some of the biggest names in design will join Canberra’s burgeoning design community to exhibit, speak and inspire audiences at the ACT’s fastest growing festival.

Whether you’re a lover of design, travel, culture or simply enjoy getting amongst the action, the DESIGN Canberra Festival offers versatility to suit everyone’s taste. Food, wine and design are a feature of the 2018 program, celebrating the best from the Canberra region. Enjoy a one-off design dinner at Canberra’s two hatted restaurant, Aubergine, and local wine and music at the award-winning Pop Inn Bar. Festival favourites – open studios, open homes and architecture tours – are back again in 2018. An opportunity to engage more deeply with design will be presented at three programs: the Enrico Taglietti international architecture symposium; Visible City urban renewal forums; and the Museum of Possibilities on City Hill. The Museum of Possibilities is a playful art installation by award-winning Montreal-based artists Daily Tous Les Jours, which invites Canberrans to share their hopes and dreams for our city centre.

Although much of the festival is free to access and welcomes all ages, some of the major festival highlights require tickets which can be bought online at

One ticket not to miss is the festival opening party and auction, CIRCULARITY, hosted by the Canberra Centre the exclusive major partner for DESIGN Canberra 2018. The opening party is one of the festival’s biggest events – music, food, local wines, cocktails and brews, and experimental lighting design will launch the festival’s opening weekend in the iconic Monaro Mall. Plus there’ll be lucky door prizes perfect for design lovers, including an iconic F!NK jug.

This year’s festival theme will be ‘geometry’, referencing the city’s distinctive form and rich design history. The theme will explore geometry and its presence throughout the city, which creates human, creative and global connections.

“We are honoured to present such an exciting program of events for this year’s DESIGN Canberra Festival and can’t wait for people to come and see what we have in store,” said Rachael Coghlan.

In addition to the ever-popular signature events, a newly curated line-up of locally and internationally acclaimed designers has been announced for this year’s program highlights (see below).

DESIGN Canberra is an annual festival which celebrates and promotes Canberra as a global city of design. Design is in Canberra’s DNA. From the time of Walter and Marion Griffin’s visionary design a century ago, to iconic experimental modernist architecture of the 1950s and 60s, through to contemporary and sustainable design developments today, Canberra has always been a living design laboratory. Throughout November 2018, over 150 events, exhibitions, talks, tours, markets, artist studios and open homes will be showcased as DESIGN Canberra. The festival is for all interests and ages and most events are free. Last year a record 94,500 people attended the festival. Presented by Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre.

More information:

Highlight 2018 DESIGN Canberra festival programs include

Kengo Kuma’s ‘NAMAKO’

Date: 5-25 November 2018, Aspen Island

One of the world’s leading architects, most recently known as the designer of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium, has designed the inaugural ephemeral architecture project which will activate Aspen Island in Lake Burley Griffin over the festival. The 12-metre-long installation, inspired by a sea cucumber, will be composed of a steel rod frame structure and mesh made with bio-acrylic rods woven together by zip-ties.

Enrico Taglietti Symposium

Date: Friday 16 November, National Gallery of Australia

Symposium speakers include international and national architects and designers, architectural historians and scholars, and some of the many people who have been touched by Taglietti's inspiring work.
The symposium is part of a series of dedicated festival events (tours, poetry, exhibition, open homes) which will feature the work, poetics, personal style and contribution of Taglietti (now aged 92), as part of the DESIGN Canberra festival.

CIRCULARITY: Design. Auction. Party.

Date: Saturday 10 November, iconic Monaro Mall

Celebrate the first weekend of the 2018 DESIGN Canberra festival with an opening party. Enjoy experimental lighting design, an auction of contemporary studio-produced design, as well as music, local wines, craft beer, cocktails and more. Support authentic contemporary design and place your bid on experimental, small scale or one-off pieces from leading designers.

Living Rooms

Date: every Sunday (11, 18 and 25 November)

Architecture + design + craft = an open home with a difference. Explore the living rooms of acclaimed Canberra houses and discover pop-up exhibitions with works on sale by local artists, makers and craft practitioners. Enjoy a progressive exhibition as you take in the beauty of design in our own backyard.

Architecture Bus Tours

Dates: Mid Century Modern Tours: Every Saturday (10, 17 and 24 November)

Australian Institute of Architects Awards Tour: Sunday 18 November

Back by popular demand, this year’s four architecture tours will take their cue from the 2018 Design Canberra theme: geometry. The always popular mid-century modern architecture tours will be presented by local architecture enthusiast and author of Canberra House, Martin Miles. Over three weekends, audiences will go behind the scenes of the most acclaimed modernist buildings in Canberra, including a special Taglietti edition. The annual Australian Institute of Architects awards tour will open the doors to a selection of this year’s ACT Architecture Award residential projects including the stunning Swan house, winner of 2018 Malcolm Moir and Heather Sutherland Award for residential architecture.

Open Studios

Date: Every Saturday (10, 17 and 24 November)

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. Experience hands-on workshops and demonstrations.

Eat Drink DESIGN Canberra

Date: Friday 16 November

Award winning chef, Ben Willis, has curated a one-night-only design dinner celebration of the best of food and design teamed with seasonal, locally sourced produce and contemporary designers. The one-off Eat Drink DESIGN Canberra dinner includes five courses plus matched wine, presented in their beautifully moody and recently refurbished dining room. Hear from Ben Willis about his vision for a perfect dinner, alongside acclaimed designers.

Tea in the Potter’s Garden

Saturday 10 November

Visit the studios and chat to makers while they work. To enhance your experience the artist will also host a collaborative event, bringing together makers of ceramic tableware, local tea blenders Endeavour Tea and florist Peony n Pearl to indulge your senses in an intimate and thoughtfully curated market in the gardens of the Watson Arts Centre.

Tim Ross: 2018 Griffin lecture

Date: Wednesday 7 November

Best known for his work on TV and radio, comedian Tim Ross has a long-standing passion for architecture and design. He will present the 2018 Griffin lecture, the Australian Institute of Architects annual event to celebrate Australian achievements in design, architecture and construction.

Craft and Design Workshops

Date: Every Saturday (10,17,14 November)

Explore the processes and techniques of local designers as they share their skills in these hands-on workshops. Create your own ceramic tableware with Girl Nomad Ceramics, develop your basketry skills with contemporary artist Ruby Berry or delve into the world of parquetry with Designer in Residence Chelsea Lemon.

Creative Careers

Date: Tuesday 6 November

Back for the third year in a row, this is an opportunity to become inspired for a career in the design arts, as special invited guests provide a glimpse into their journey towards success in creative industries.

Walking tours

Date: 19, 21, 22, 25 November

Explore the city on foot with the DESIGN Canberra team of architect tour guides for a unique and compelling perspective on the architecture and design of our city. From heritage walks, to contemporary design as well as a special architect-guided tour of the recently refurbished Monaro Mall, there’s something for every architectural taste. The Australian Institute of Architects will also lead a walking tour through some ANU historic buildings.

Museum of Possibilities

Date: 22 November

Museum of Possibilities is a large scale, interactive art installation inviting the community to share their hopes and dreams for Canberra’s city centre. For one day only, as part of the 2018 DESIGN Canberra Festival, Montreal-based artists Daily Tous Les Jours will transform City Hill so that people of all ages can have their say about the future of their CBD.

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