Melbourne Design Week

Applications for Melbourne Design Week 2020 now closed

Melbourne Design Week is Australia’s leading annual international design event. An 11–day program of talks, tours, workshops, launches and exhibitions links creativity with business and community, providing a platform for the Australian design industry to express, question, propose and test ideas. Melbourne Design Week responds to the appetite and need for meaningful opportunities to experience, communicate and think about design.

In 2020 Melbourne Design Week asks participants to experiment with ideas, materials, places and processes to respond to the central question ‘How can design shape life?’


Melbourne Design Week 2020: How Can Design Shape Life?

In response to the central question, ‘How can design shape life?’, organisers present exhibitions, workshops, programs and events that consider and experiment with ideas around health and wellbeing; design across cultures and as cultural production; fight the war on waste; and to imagine the ways design will shape life and the environment in the future.

Scaffolded by this unifying question, programming will be curated under five thematic pillars:

Healthy Cities

More people live in cities than ever before. Cities offer profound economic, social and cultural opportunities, but they also come with challenges, including pollution, inequality, resource extraction and extreme weather. Design increasingly takes on the role of redressing the problems of the city and proposes ways to improve health – both mental and physical – for humans, animals, plants and beyond.

Design Cultures

Life is shaped by contexts, beliefs, backgrounds and ideas that bring people together. How does design shape, and how is it shaped by, the multitude of cultures that exist in the world? How does design champion diverse cultural perspectives, tacit knowledge and cultural practices? This is through the awareness that design itself is an act of cultural production.


Open House Melbourne expands its Design Week program that explores the waterways surrounding the city and investigates the role that design plays in reframing Melbourne’s relationship with water. Boat tours, walks, talks and special events will explore the cultural, ecological and recreational value of our rivers, bays and oceans.

The War on Waste Continues

Climate change, waste and pollution are some of the defining moral issues of our time, spanning geographies and scale, from whole ecosystems to individual consumer choices. This theme has a special focus on e-waste – phones, toys, electronics, lighting, or anything with a battery or a wire. Follow the supply chain from the exploitation of natural resources, to the meltdown, repair and recycling of consumer goods.

Design Evolution

How will design transform our ways of life in the future? Designers are reimagining buildings, vehicles, products and garments made possible by innovative supply chains and groundbreaking materials. From speculative structures, systems and materials, to breakthrough approaches to practice, urban resilience and social impact, this theme explores a new wave of design thinking.

Key Dates

Successful submissions notified: October 2019
Final content due for publication: 4 November 2019

Why get involved?

If you have a story to tell, an idea to discuss, an issue to debate, new work to unveil – Melbourne Design Week is made for you.

Relevance: Melbourne Design Week has established a reputation for shining a light on the ways design is helping to tackle the challenges of the future. Our role is to take a position, engaging with diverse industry sectors and an active design community to offer a topical, relevant and necessary program of exhibitions, talks, tours, workshops and more.

Audience: Backed by the Victorian Government and the NGV, Melbourne Design Week provides a compelling annual platform, for diverse participants to join forces to engage a broad local, national and international audiences with their work and ideas.

Scale: Melbourne Design Week is Australia’s leading international public design event, delivered by the NGV and a broad network of institutions, media, and industry partners. In 2019 over 250 events were delivered by over 200 organisers in Melbourne and Geelong, with the program doubling in size from 2018.

Accessibility: It is free to present an exhibition or event during Melbourne Design Week. No registration fees apply. In 2019 the program hosted 44 Exhibitions, 101 talks, 33 tours, 14 film screenings, 25 Geelong based events and 102 free programs.

Media: The Melbourne Design Week program receives dedicated media and curatorial support from the NGV and our external media team. In 2019 our media partners were The New York Times, DEZEEN and the ABC. The program received 120 placements, with 18 print features, 18 broadcast segments and 84 online features.

Marketing: All Melbourne Design Week participants are included for free in 20,000 printed programs that are distributed around Melbourne and supplied to participating venues. The Melbourne Design Week program is promoted through our marketing activities which reach an extensive audience through out of home, in print and digital advertising, social media, and digital promotion.

What is Melbourne Design Week?

Melbourne Design Week is Australia’s leading annual international design event. Featuring an eleven-day program of exhibitions, talks, tours, workshops, films and launches, Melbourne Design Week 2020 continues to celebrate the best of local, national and international design. The expanding, state-wide festival is an initiative of the Victorian Government presented by Creative Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Who organises Melbourne Design Week?

Melbourne Design Week and the Victorian Design Program are initiatives of the Victorian Government and curated by the National Gallery of Victoria. Satellite events are individually organised and produced by event partners across the design community.

What are the dates for 2020?

Melbourne Design Week runs from 12 – 22 March 2020 with many events extending over the month of March.

Where can events be held?

Melbourne Design Week events can be held in venues around Greater Melbourne, applications located in regional Victoria are also welcome.

It is the responsibility of the event organiser to secure a suitable venue for their proposed Melbourne Design Week exhibition, event, talk, screening or workshop.

Is there a submission fee?

It is free to submit a proposal to Melbourne Design Week.

Who do I contact regarding Melbourne Design Week?

For Melbourne Design Week enquiries please contact: [email protected]

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National Gallery of Victoria Creative Victoria Mercedes Benz RMIT

National Gallery of Victoria Creative Victoria Mercedes Benz RMIT