It’s remarkable the number of exhibitions dedicated to design that are hosted internationally every year! This (daunting!) list underlines the creativity that is poured into responding to life’s challenges ever year.
All over the world, each and every year, designers and their colleagues gather in hundreds of venues, not merely to hawk their wares (though there’s plenty of that and it’s plenty of fun!), but to show and share their ideas! And that’s the bit we really love.
Each and every one of these events has an energy about it. It’s impossible not to come away from any of them brimful of new ideas, admiration, friends and heroes!
Here are the shows we’re most looking forward to, whether we’re going to get there in person this year or not! If we’ve missed one near you, let us know, and if you make it to any of these as the year goes on, be sure to let us know what you thought, saw and loved…
14–20 January 2019, Cologne, Germany
The Germans kick-off every new year in fabulous Köln (my advice: be there for the renowned Weihnachtsmacht leading up to Christmas, cruise over to Berlin for New Year’s Eve and then slowly work your way back in time for IMM!).
IMM hosts more than 1,250 exhibitors from 50 countries and more than 150,000 visitors. Not a bad way to shrug off the post-Christmas slump.
17–20 January 2019, Toronto, Canada
These overlapping Toronto shows are intended to showcase the city as much the designs and the designers from all over the world that attend each year.
DesignTO is the junior show, entering its ninth year this year and running longer to 27 January. Be sure to put this one on your radar for its 10th anniversary exhibition in 2020.
18–22 January 2019, Paris, France
Even in these fractious times it doesn’t take much of an excuse to get me to head to Paris, and the Maison&Objet exhibition is a perfect lure.
The subversive humour and sense of fun (so often unfairly unassociated with French design) set this show apart from it’s bigger, more staid sibling in September.
Always an interesting bellwether for the year in design ahead, this year’s show features an emphasis on Chinese designers as well as the German designer of the year: Sebastian Herkner.
30–31 January 2019, London, UK
This a more industry-focussed exhibition, so lacks some fo the glitz of the year’s later events, but is no less fascinating for that.
2019’s theme brings attention squarely to Future-Proofing, with an emphasis on sustainability, so right up our alley! Can’t wait!
1–28 February 2019, Madrid, Spain
Never a city to anything by halves, Madrid celebrates design for the whole month of February.
The year’s programme is intended to transform the traditional Spanish attitude toward design, highlighting its impacts on everyday life and the environment. Sounds like the whole mood to me…
4–10 February 2019, Stockholm, Sweden
Over 200 events and 700 exhibitors celebrating Scandinavian design! Who could ask for anything more?! Scandi design continues to lead the way (and rule my heart!) when it comes to ingenious concepts and sustainability, so the Stockholm Design Week is an unmissable fixture of the calendar.
5–7 February 2019, London, UK
A whole event dedicated to surfacing materials… But don’t be fooled! This is a whole lot more exciting than watching paint dry!
This year features 150+ exhibitors and a series of talks, hosted by more than 50 industry leaders.
7–11 February 2019, St Moritz, Switzerland
This is a relatively new event on the calendar, but if you (or your client) need some inspiration for the redesign of a ski lodge, winter hideaway or alpine Bond-villain lair, then this event has your name written all over it.
The winter version of Spring’s Nomad Monaco does curate an impeccable (if somewhat Davos-themed) collection of beautiful objets, but neither sustainability nor affordability feature high on the list of qualifying criteria.
14–24 February 2019, California, USA
If you’re looking for something a little more “retro” then Modernism Week could be what you’re after.
Held in the every balmy Palm Springs, this celebration of mid-20th-century architecture and design, inspired by the homes and inhabitants of the area, serves as a fantastic reminder and teaching aid for another of the 20th century’s iconic periods.
27 February – 1 March 2019, Cape Town, South Africa
At last: the first major design festival of the year outside of Europe and North America!
That’s right: other continents have design too!
1 March – 1 September 2019, Milan, Italy
As the name suggests, the Triennale di Milano comes around every three years and it amplifies everything in a city already known for its style, fashion and design.
This year’s exhibitions are intended to provoke discussion on the ways architecture and design can promote the thinking for the future of our species.
Broad, deep and sustainably minded. Not unlike myself. I can’t wait to take some of these exhibitions in in April…
4–17 March 2019, Singapore
Singapore is a centre of excellence for design, drawing together so many of the greatest minds of the region and putting on a stunning display.
This event is only 6 years old, but it deserves to flourish long into the future.
6–9 March 2019, Shanghai, China
Shanghai is a metropolitan wonder! From the strolling along the picturesque Dutch waterfront of The Bund, staring across at the ‘Hong Kong on steroids’ of skyline that has been conjured from thin air in just the last 20 years; Shanghai is a captivating melting pot of every taste and possibility.
What a place to celebrate design!
14–24 March 2019, Melbourne, Australia
Sydney may have the natural beauty, but Melbourne has flair! This city on the south coast is a thrilling centre of design excellence and the perfect home for Australia’s premiere design exhibition.
14–17 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium
In just its second year, Collectible returns with an exquisitely curated selection of finest art and design to the historic Bâtiment Vanderborght in Brussles.
This stylish event is as much about immersing you in a glorious, timeless past as it is about introducing you to the exciting and the new.
If you have the chance to visit during its brief, four day run: do not miss this!
18–23 March 2019, Lapland, Finland
This roving design week is shared between the Arctic nations, spreading the burden of hosting what can be an expensive event; 2019 takes the event to Rovaniemi in Lapland! When else are you likely to go to Rovaniemi?!
This year’s focus is on Design for Happiness; like us, the hope is to answer how design contributes to wellness.
21–22 March 2019, Berlin, Germany
Back in Germany for a very German event, this summit hosts workplace strategists, interior architects and designers to discuss the future of workplace design and technology.
Always a fascinating event for seeing what problems and solutions are coming from all over the world.
27 March – 7 April 2019, Boston, USA
This great event is designed to educate the non-designing masses as much as entertaining the design community via interactive workshops and museum tours. The equal focus on bringing in regular Bostonians keeps this event less insular and can make for a pleasant change of pace to some of the more clique-ish events on the calendar.
28–30 March 2019, Reykjavík, Iceland
Iceland is home to some of the world’s most striking and unique landscapes, and for three days a year, it does the same for design.
Reykjavík gives itself over to the event, featuring a lot of local art, design and craftsmanship, alongside more internationally recognised brands.
9–14 April 2019, Milan, Italy
For a week in April each year, Milan becomes the international capital of design.
While the Salone del Mobile takes over the city’s vast exhibition halls with its displays of the world’s latest, lighting and homewares trends, the Milan Design Week (or Fuorisalone) takes over the central districts of Tortona, Brera and 5 Vie.
The vibe in the city is truly electric for the entire week; gallery installations abound, unlikely apartments everywhere are transformed into extraordinary display spaces while concealed palaces make for unexpected backdrops to elaborate displays.
If you can get there, and can afford the surcharge for being in Milan in April, then do it! You won’t be disappointed.
[And as noted, this year also marks the Triennale, so the whole city is sure to be alive with extraordinary design and events.]
10 May – 9 June 2019, Graz, Austria
Picturesque Graz gives itself over to a festival, which this year is focused on women and design.
10–22 May 2019, New York, USA
New York City is, of course, a global fashion and design centre no less important than London, and yet here is its first (and only!) design festival on the annual calendar.
Nevertheless, you can rely on NYC to do it well; the festival highlights all disciplines of design across the city’s five boroughs, again emphasising inclusivity as much as exceptional design and craftsmanship.
The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) rounds off the last 4 days of the festival; taking over the Javits Centre with a lot of the very best bits from Milan the previous month.
17–26 May, Bucharest, Romania
Probably not high on many people’s lists, Romanian Design Week has quickly become a remarkable gathering place for excellence in Eastern European design.
And Bucharest is a beautiful city, in case you need more than just great design to visit a design week.
21–23 May 2019, London, UK
You know which city has a lot of design weeks? London! And here’s another one!
So, we’re lucky to be based here, because this unassuming centre of the Industrial Revolution in the heart of London now boasts among the highest concentrations of showrooms, architecture and design studios in the world, and every May it hosts its own design week!
Dates TBC, Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City’s very own showcase, Habitat Expo is high on the list of international exhibitions I’ve yet to visit in person, but as one of the world’s most populous cities, the design solutions that feed into and explode from this great city are always exciting to see!
1–9 June 2019, Atlanta, USA
Atlanta is rapidly becoming another of the world’s great design centres, so it’s natural that their design festival should be highly anticipated.
1–30 June 2019, London, UK
That’s right! It’s another festival in London… But this time, it’s a month-long, city-wide celebration of architecture! Appropriately themed as Boundaries for 2019, this festival includes a surprising number of usually private gardens and spaces across the city being opened on scheduled weekends to us grubby citizens.
Really it is surprising and exciting new way to see a city you might have thought your already knew.
6–8 June 2019, Birmingham, UK
UK design outside of London is obviously a tenuous thing, but this festival attempts to bring just a little of that big city glitz to another northern enclave.
This is clearly a joke: Birmingham is a great city (and the local Brummies are fiercely proud and furious typing angry emails as I write) with a long and storied history of manufacturing that has been revived in recent years with a return to many high-end, handmade furniture practices.
6–8 June 2019, Las Vegas, USA
The American Institute of Architects hosts their annual conference at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. Sounds dry, but is in fact among the most important gatherings of architectural design brains in North America. Still sounds dry, but it’s in Vegas! Which is in a desert…
10–12 June 2019, Chicago, USA
NeoCon is the conference for commercial interiors, but the most surprising thing about it is that it got that internet domain!
Nevertheless, if you’re interests and focus are on commercial and consumer design, then this is the NeoCon fest you’re looking for (not any of the other ones, which are probably quite different).
11–16 June 2019, Basel, Switzerland
This is another event on the higher end of the spectrum, as the naturally twinned cities of beachside Miami and alpine Basel host a festival of collectible items.
20 – 23 June 2019, Los Angeles, USA
The LA Design Festival is overshadowed by the simultaneous Design Week just up the road in San Francisco, but it can be worth a visit nevertheless, if only to get an impression of the influences that are filtering through to one of the key global generators of culture (i.e. Hollywood).
20–28 June 2019, San Francisco, USA
In recent years, San Francisco has been split between the rise of tech companies and the squeeze on everyone else and this year’s design week wisely recognizes that with the the theme of Community, which seeks to explore how the two different groups can work together to rethink the world’s (and the city’s) future.
New Designers Part I
26–29 June 2019, London, UK
With so many design festivals in a year, you have to wonder who is doing all the designing… well there’s a design festival for that!
Part I focuses on new graduates with specialisations in textiles and fashion, costume design, and jewellery and metalwork.
Dates TBC, Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona has an exceptional history of design, so it’s only fitting that they host an annual event, not just to draw attention to the extraordinary work of the incomparable Antoni Gaudí, but to put on a spotlight on imaginative ways forward.
New Designers Part II
3–6 July 2019, London, UK
Part II of the London graduate show examines the work done by architecture, interior, furniture and product design students.
18–21 July 2019, Melbourne, Australia
This event is trade-only, so it’s a great way for industry professionals to check out the latest furniture from Australia and New Zealand.
18–25 August 2019, São Paulo, Brazil
Exhibitions of design are too rare in Latin American, but when they do turn up they can be great. São Paulo puts on a great festival, with numerous independent events across the city.
28 August – 1 September 2019, Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich’s design biennale draws the public and the professional alike to discover design across the city.
5–15 September 2019, Helsinki, Finland
The Finnish design week takes us back to the north of Scandinavia for another round of well thought-out design and ideal finishes.
This year sees the introduction of The Children’s Design Week which seeks to introduce young designers to the world, as well as inspiring the youngest among us to think about design.
6–15 September 2019, Paris, France
Back to Paris for the book-end to the Maison&Objet Design Week. It’s always interesting to compare January’s line-up to this September review, which always carries echoes and affirmations of all the designs that have premiered throughout the year, while also hinting at what’s to come in the next year’s shows.
6 September – 10 November, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is hosting its second festival of architecture in 2019; considering the country’s technological leadership and innovation, we’re eager to see this year’s follow-up event.
9–12 September 2019, Shanghai, China
A second bite of the design exhibition apple for Shanghai, this time focussed purely on furniture.
11 September – 3 November 2019, Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn is another of those European destinations that deserves to be higher on everybody’s “must see” list, and as a setting for a major architectural symposium, it is perfect.
London-based local Yael Reisner curates the city’s 5th event with the theme Beauty Matters; an important message in an age when sustainability is taking all the headlines (though we’ll still take sustainability over beauty if it’s a binary choice – but it never is just a binary choice, is it?).
14–22 September 2019, London, UK
Back to London for what many see as the last major event of the international design calendar; the pinnacle the year’s collections, drawing together all the ideas that were jump-started back in Milan in April.
The festival spans with the city, with major events centred around the London Design Fair, 100% Design and designjunction exhibitions, but drawing furniture and interior design firms all over the city into the act, encouraging boutiques everywhere to highlight their new and unique offerings.
17–20 September 2019, Valencia, Spain
Valencia is another extraordinarily beautiful city and a perfect venue for this festival of household design and decoration. This trade fair features more than 600 exhibitors with an especial focus on products made in Spain, so it’s always interesting to pick up some of the lesser known designers who haven’t made it to any of the other international events.
19 September – 5 January 2020, Chicago, USA
Another biennale, this time it’s Chicago cementing its position as a centre for architectural excellence.
Curated by Yesomi Umolu, this year’s event has invited a wide range of architectural and design talents from all over the world to display their expertise.
23–30 September 2019, Beijing, China
Since the razing of most of Beijing’s historic (but admittedly uncared for) hutongs in preparation for hosting of the 2008 Olympics, those typically Chinese districts that survived have been transformed by preservation efforts, creating fantastically atmospheric spaces, which are taken over for Design Week.
Unlike the modern fantasies of Shanghai and Singapore, Beijing Design Week has an incredible sense of history too, which provides a striking backdrop to the surprisingly radical work of the new design talent it features.
24–27 September 2019, Pamplona, Spain
This year’s Biennial of Latin American Architecture (BAL) will highlight the work of architects from Uruguay. The main program for the event takes place in Pamplona, but with participation from sites in Madrid and Barcelona as well.
26 September – 24 November 2019, Oslo, Norway
The premiere Norwegian architectural festival is themed around Degrowth this year, or the ways and technologies that can be adopted to minimise or even reverse the environmental impact of human developments.
Dates TBC, São Paulo, Brazil
This year’s São Paulo biennial intends to highlight a move towards “the ordinary” may be a solution for the future of architecture.
Dates TBC, Vienna, Austria
Austria’s major design celebration also takes place in September with a number of exhibitions and installations throughout the city.
Each year features a focus on a different European country, with this year being Finland’s turn.
Also featured will be the Passionswege Project, which paired contemporary designers with traditional Viennese manufacturers to encourage knowledge and cultural exchange, and promises to deliver some exciting stylistic mash-ups.
Dates TBC, Modesto, USA
The wealthy Californian enclave of Modesto will host their annual MAD Week in September, with tours of modern architecture and exhibitions cropping up all over the city.
Always an eye-opening, envy-making and taste-questioning event in equal measure.
3 October – 2 December 2019, Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon will seek to get philosophical this year, with an event titled The Poetics of Reason, which will feature five key exhibitions investigating perspectives on architecture and rationality.
15–26 October 2019, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires will play host to a series of lectures, exhibitions and discussions, including speakers such as the inimitable Bjarke Ingels of the Copenhagen-based B.I.G.
17–18 October 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The continuation of the earlier event in Berlin, bringing many of the same international thought-leaders together for another round of exploration on topics of office design.
18–27 October 2019, Tokyo, Japan
It’s a long time coming, but October will bring the third annual Designart exhibition to Tokyo, seeking to inspire the city’s creatives with the broad theme of Emotions.
19–27 October 2019, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Back to the Netherlands, and this time to Eindhoven for a perennial favourite, giving a stage to emerging Dutch and European designers.
9 November 2019 – 8 February 2020
This year welcomes a new entry to the calendar; another triennial exhibition, this one in the UAE and running for a full three months.
I look forward to see what new perspectives curator Adrian Lahoud highlights in the Middle East, focussing this event on the topic: Rights of Future Generations.
11–16 November 2019, Dubai, UAE
While you’re in the area, drop by the returning annual event in Dubai. Much of this event features the same international designers we’ll already have seen at earlier events, this time presenting to their buyers in the Middle East and North African markets, but there are always the occasional local creators who manage to rouse some interest.
2–8 December 2019, Miami, USA
The follow-up to the year’s earlier Basel event, Design Miami curates an international gathering of design aficionados to round out the year in collectible design.
3–5 December 2019, Fort Lauderdale, USA
The more consumer centric conclusion to the earlier International Contemporary Furniture Fair back in NYC. This year it takes place at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Centre, with a broad focus on popular brands, designers and luxury retail.
Dates TBC, Shenzhen, China
This year, the last hurrah in Asia sees an appropriately impressive show, shared between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
The Bi-City Biennale this year will explore the theme Urban Space and Technological Innovation.
4–6 December 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands
How better to round out the year than with an award ceremony?
Every year, the international architectural community gathers once more in Amsterdam to award the World Building of the Year prize, among a series of other gongs.
Alongside this is the Inside Festival, which similarly highlights the year’s achievements in interior design.
And that’ll be it for design in 2019!
Bring on our 2020 vision!