Every year the number of design exhibitions and festivals all over the world grows! The numbers of excited consumers looking for the next brilliant idea multiplies and, most excitingly, so do the ranks of ingenious designers with incredible new looks and products. Undoubtedly, each new year that comes is always the most exciting year in design!
Each and every one of the events below has a different energy about it, though they’re all linked by creative exuberance. It’s impossible not to come away from any of them brimming with new ideas, new heroes, and new friends!
These are all the shows we wish we could get to this year. There are so many that there’s bound to be one near you. If we’ve missed your favourite, let us know! And if you make it to any, be sure to let us know what you thought, saw and loved…
19 September 2019 – 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.
18 November 2019 – 6 January 2020, 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.
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.
13–19 January 2020, 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.
16–19 January 2020, Toronto, Canada & 17–26 January 2020, 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.
17–21 January 2020, 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.
29–30 January 2020, 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!
1–29 February 2020, 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…
3–9 February 2020, 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.
6–9 February 2020, 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.
11–13 February 2020, 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.
13–23 February 2020, 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.
26-28 February 2020, 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!
4–17 March 2020 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.
5–8 March 2020, 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!
12–15 March 2020, 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!
12–22 March 2020, 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.
16–22 March 2020, Rovaniemi, 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.
18–20 March 2020, 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.
25–29 March 2020, 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.
25 March – 5 April 2020, 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.
20–26 April 2020, 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.]
8 May – 7 June 2020, Graz, Austria
Picturesque Graz gives itself over to a festival, which this year is focused on women and design.
12–20 May 2020, 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.
14–16 May 2020, 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…
15–24 May 2020, 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.
19–21 May 2020, 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!
28-30 May 2020, 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!
30 May – 11 June 2020, 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 2020, 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.
5–6 June 2020, 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.
8–10 June 2020, 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).
16–21 June 2020, 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.
17–21 June 2020, 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).
16–25 June 2020, 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
1-4 & 8-11 June 2020, 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.
Part II of the London graduate show examines the work done by architecture, interior, furniture and product design students.
10-18 June 2020, 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.
8–10 July 2020, 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.
16–19 July 2020, 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.
17-23 August 2020, Stockholm, Sweden
16–23 August 2020, 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.
29 August – 1 September 2020, Zürich, Switzerland
Zürich’s design biennale draws the public and the professional alike to discover design across the city.
9–15 September 2020, 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.
4–8 September 2020, 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.
17 September – 20 November 2020, 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.
8–12 September 2020, Shanghai, China
A second bite of the design exhibition apple for Shanghai, this time focussed purely on furniture.
12–20 September 2020, 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.
22–25 September 2020, 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.
22 September – 7 October 2020, 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.
27 September – 6 October 2020, 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.
1-4 October 2020, Vancouver, Canada
17–25 October 2020, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Back to the Netherlands, and this time to Eindhoven for a perennial favourite, giving a stage to emerging Dutch and European designers.
12–16 November 2020, 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.
4–8 December 2020, 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.
TBC December 2020, Lisbon, Portugal
How better to round out the year than with an award ceremony?
Every year, the international architectural community gets together for one last party. In 2020 that party will be in Lisbon to award the World Building of the Year prize, among a series of other gongs.
And each year, these awards are accompanied by one last opportunity for designers to wow one another at the Inside Festival. This highlight reel of the year finishing (and glimpse of the year to come!) always makes for an interesting summation of everything the designers have seen and learned throughout the year. These are the lessons that they think and hope we will all be taking forward.