Your go-to guide for the 2019 DESIGN Canberra Festival.
DESIGN Canberra, now an annual fixture in the diaries of many Canberrans, celebrates and promotes the national capital as a global city of design through a wide variety of exhibitions, talks, tours, markets, artist studios and open homes.
This year, over 200 events will run across town from 4 to 24 November as part of the sixth DESIGN Canberra Festival.
And with a record 112,000 people attending in 2018, there is something for all interests and ages, and most events are free.
This year’s festival will be driven by the overarching theme of ‘utopia’, which organisers see as “an opportunity to reimagine the past, build a more creative and inclusive present, and boldly experiment with the future of design”.
DESIGN Canberra is the major outreach activity of not-for-profit arts organisation, Craft ACT.
So what’s on?
In addition to the popular signature events, such as open homes and artist studios, highlights of the 2019 program include:
- Two temporary architecture installations, MEDUSA and Twin Minigagarin, by Berlin-based design team Plastique Fantastique. The transparent, lightweight and mobile shell structures relate to the notion of activating, creating and sharing public space and involving passers-by in its creative processes.
- Glass Utopia: Italian and Australian Glass will bring together contemporary glass pieces by Italian and Australian designers in a world class exhibition. This signature show will express the vision of ‘utopia’, and celebrate the shared tradition in glass making between the two nations.
- Renowned Australian architect John Andrews will be recognised for his work with a guided bus tour showing his bold, brutalist designs. Comedian, architecture enthusiast and DESIGN Canberra favourite, Tim Ross, will also examine Andrews’ legacy with an exhibition, The Practical Outsider. Ross will also join Andrews in a public conversation to discuss his work and architectural legacy.
Inside and outside
The opportunity to take a peek inside the beautiful homes of fellow design enthusiasts is irresistible, and festivalgoers will get the chance to do that with the return of the popular Living Rooms event.
This year, the event will also include in-house pop up exhibitions, with works on sale by local artists, makers and craft practitioners.
Heading outside, Civic Square will be DESIGN Canberra 2019’s central hub, as it’s transformed into a dedicated site for talks, entertainment, parties, performances, art and wellness programs during the week.
The centrepiece of Civic Square will be a large painted ground design decided by competition, and a temporary sculptural pavilion, designed by University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts and Design team.
Craft ACT CEO and Artistic Director, Rachael Coghlan, says the graphic and architectural installations will frame audience experiences at the Civic Square festivities.
“Centrally located on the axis between City Hill and Mt Ainslie, we want to explore creative ways to reconnect Civic Square with the original vision of the Griffins’ plan.”
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, is the 2019 designer-in-residence.
Porter created the 2019 signature artwork, Elements of Balance, in response to the festival theme of utopia.
Referencing the form of the crane, the work features two contrasting elements, gold and aluminium, of equal weight that balance each other perfectly.
“To me, utopia is a vision of the ideal way to live in an ideal environment,” Porter says. “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.”
A groundswell of support
In September, the festival announced it has received record support from sponsors across industry, retail, education, hospitality, property and government.
“We are heartened to receive the generous support of the ACT Government together with so many leading businesses across sectors,” says Coghlan.
At the same time, it was announced that the ACT Government will continue their existing arrangement to support the festival with $100,000 in 2020 and 2021.
Visit designcanberrafestival.com.au for more.