DESIGN Canberra today announces highlights for the 2020 program that will take over the nation’s capital from 9-29 November.

The festival celebrates Canberra as a global city of design and a living design laboratory, and this year’s centrepiece is a major site-specific installation by Australian multidisciplinary artist Hannah Quinlivan.

Returning for its seventh year, the fast growing annual three-week festival will present more than 200 events including exhibitions; talks by industry leaders such as acclaimed architect Michael Dysart, leading social commentator and business analyst Bernard Salt and internationally renowned glass maker Kirstie Rea; tours and unique access to architectural gems including the iconic Shine Dome, a film festival, workshops and the popular program of artist open studios.

With humanity facing unprecedented challenges including climate change and a global health pandemic, DESIGN Canberra’s 2020 theme of ‘Care’ is intensely relevant.

The curated program will explore this central theme and celebrate the ways that care and caring is valuable and vital during these challenging times.

CEO of Craft ACT: Craft & Design Centre, and Artistic Director of DESIGN Canberra, Rachael Coghlan says, “We are delighted to present a rich tapestry of events that explore contemporary design across multiple decades and disciplines." 

"DESIGN Canberra 2020 has been curated in response to these challenging times to create a space to value artists and creative industries, to connect with community, and embrace unprecedented opportunities to rebuild and reimagine a sustainable and more caring way of living.”

A highlight of the 2020 festival will be artist Hannah Quinlivan’s newly commissioned site-specific installation titled Desiderium.

It is a large scale ephemeral 3D spatial drawing that explores the social atmosphere after periods of crisis including Australia’s recent red summer, the subsequent Covid19-induced health and economic crisis, and the fissures they have risen in our communities and collective mood.

Building on her previous work Arrhythmia, a collaboration led by Quinlivan at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016, Desiderium features a suspended large-scale light sculpture installed at the City Walk entry to Monaro Mall that forms the centrepiece of a vocal performance by acclaimed classical vocalists as they move through the space.

Artist Hannah Quinlivan commented, “This year has brought the realisation that the slow unravelling of our ecology has gained irreversible momentum." 

"At the same time, the viral outbreak has compelled us to face with sober senses the fragility of our once taken for granted ways of living."

"After a year of grief and fear, this artwork asks its audience to take time to pause, to listen and hold close our ardent longing for the futures we once possessed but that dissolved into smoke, and to find the fortitude to care for each other through the uncertain future.”

"The new Design Revisited event series celebrates outstanding design in Canberra across different disciplines and decades."

It offers an informal and entertaining design education with a range of talks and tours by award winning architects and designers exploring iconic architectural landmarks and contemporary design throughout the city. 

For the first time DESIGN Canberra will present Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival that explores our relationship with materials and making.

The program features 28 short films from around the world including documentaries, maker profiles, music videos and hand-crafted animations that celebrate craft in all its facets.

Other festival highlights include the return of the annual BMW Twilight Drive where visitors have the opportunity to test drive new BMW models while touring iconic design destinations throughout the national capital.

The cars will feature the four winning designs of the DESIGN Canberra x BMW car wrap competition, a new canvas for designers and artists.

DESIGN Canberra is implementing the physical distancing, capacity limits and increased hygiene measures outlined by the ACT Government.

DESIGN Canberra appreciates that due to the global pandemic, many design enthusiasts will be unable to travel to Canberra during the festival.

To connect with audiences who can’t physically make it to Canberra during the festival, DESIGN Canberra is curating a DESIGN anytime program.

This new program will include self-guided tours of iconic architecture and contemporary design throughout Canberra, as well as online exhibitions, videos and interviews. This will promote and celebrate Canberra as a global city of design every day of the year.

“At Craft ACT, like so many other arts organisations, we have used these challenges to find new ways to support our artists and deliver on our mission: To embed contemporary craft, making and design at the centre of everyday life in Australia’s capital, a global city of design.

Although the design sector is known for its very slick public image, Craft ACT supports the sector from the ground up.

This is a very significant point of difference to the work that we do. When we support the sector from the ground up, we help artists at every stage of their career develop and build sustainable practices, forge collaborations, and to feel part of a community,” says Rachael Coghlan, CEO Craft ACT.