the world
that you

Normal is over. The tumult of 2020 continues to demonstrate how the issues of our time – climate, public health and social justice – are intertwined. Let’s look towards the world we might make together.

Design the world that you want

A critical role of design is to imagine and create alternative worlds with inventions, products, services, environments, materials and processes that respond to current issues and improve the quality of life for everyone. In 2021, Melbourne Design Week asks: Which world will we make together when we know tomorrow will be very different to today?

Take care to design the world that you want.

Expressions of interest for the 2021 program have now closed.

Focus Areas


Designing with care requires more empathy in the design process to sense the emotional needs and conditions of others. Designing with empathy requires awareness and sensitivity. Empathy builds trust; it engages stakeholders, and it leads to better outcomes. The design sector demonstrates that it cares by contributing to emergency responses to bushfires and COVID-19 from adapting supply chains and production lines to creating designs geared towards the public good. The events of 2020 have highlighted the need for greater care, from the design of the healthcare system to the broader world of products and services that could shape a more empathetic future.


A design community is one that creates together: sharing resources, collaborating across disciplines, disseminating knowledge and embracing new cultures across geographies and generations. As much as the community is bound by the objects, materials and techniques it uses, designers also form communities through social, cultural and economic values. From gaming to craft, from communications to landscape architecture, design brings us all together. What are connections we need to be making and conversations we need to be having right now?


Mediating the effects of climate change is the design challenge of this generation. An increase in the intensity of natural weather events, including floods, storms, bushfires and drought, may lead to further conflict and socio-economic inequality. How can designers best intervene in this space, to collaborate across businesses and disciplines with wild creativity? This focus continues Melbourne Design Week’s previous exploration of waste, supply chains, manufacturing, materials and speculative design proposals. The problems of climate change are not going away; but, accepting human activity has reshaped the environment, we are hopeful that we have the shared vision to adapt as positively as we can.

Key dates

Fri 16 Oct 2020 EOI close
Fri 23 Oct 2020 Successful applicants notified
Fri 27 Nov 2020 Event listing and promotional content due
Fri 26 Mar 2021 Melbourne Design Week opens
Mon 5 Apr 2021 Melbourne Design Week closes

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 for you.
  • The Melbourne Design Week website will offer an expanded presence online, hosting virtual exhibition tours, talks and video content allowing us to share more stories and events from the festival during the global pandemic.
  • Melbourne Design Week is Australia’s leading international public design event, delivered each year by the teams at Creative Victoria and NGV working in close collaboration with a broad network of institutions, media, and industry partners.
  • Our objective is to provide a compelling annual platform, backed by the expertise and reach of the NGV, for participants to engage a broad audience with their work and ideas.
  • It is free to present an event during Melbourne Design Week. No registration fees apply.
  • The Melbourne Design Week program – spanning Melbourne metro and across Victoria – receives dedicated marketing, media and curatorial support from the NGV.
  • Marketing and media activities reach an extensive audience through a comprehensive digital and social media campaign, e-news, print coverage and targeted media outputs in the lead up to, and during, Melbourne Design Week.
  • Applicants are expected to organise their own event, however through application, a selection of Melbourne Design Week events may be eligible to receive support to host their event.
  • In total, over 500 events have been presented over Melbourne Design Week since its inception in 2017. Now entering its fifth year, Melbourne Design Week 2021 builds on the success of previous years, engaging with diverse industry sectors and an active design community to offer an ever-expanding program of exhibitions, launches, talks, tours, workshops and more.


Melbourne Design Week is an annual 11-day program of talks, tours, exhibitions and workshops that celebrate and interrogate design in its broadest sense. The program offers an opportunity for designers and businesses spanning the many and varied disciplines, to come together to share ideas, show new work and consider how design can be used as a force for good in an increasingly complex and precarious world.

An initiative of the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, and delivered by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the inaugural Melbourne Design Week was launched in 2017. Curation of the program is led by the NGV Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture team; Ewan McEoin, Simone LeAmon and Myf Doughty alongside Timothy Moore, Director of Sibling Architecture.

Melbourne Design Week is curated into two streams; core programming of local and international exhibitions and keynote presentations hosted by NGV, and the Satellite program which is made up of events and exhibitions independently organised and hosted by the broader design community. The Satellite program makes up 90% of the Melbourne Design Week program with events held at ateliers, studios, retail spaces, universities, galleries and public spaces throughout Melbourne and greater Victoria. Prospective participants develop submissions in response to a provocation set by Melbourne Design Week curators that addresses key issues facing designers and populations around the world. In 2021, Melbourne Design Week asks the industry to propose events and exhibitions that respond to the provocation: Design the world that you want. Participants are called to consider how we might work together to create a better, healthier future for the planet and its inhabitants.

The program is built on the enthusiastic engagement and participation of the design sector and the general public. Since 2017 the program has grown in scope and scale from just under 100 programs in 2017 to over 300 in 2020 making it Australia’s largest international design event. We look forward to another four years of talking, making, sharing, imagining and listening.


If you have any questions or would like more information about Melbourne Design Week please contact:

[email protected]

Past Programs

NGV Creative Victoria Mercedes Benz Telstra RMIT
Melbourne Design Week and the Victorian Design Program are initiatives of the Victorian Government.
The NGV Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture is generously supported by The Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation.

Image: Material studies for DBPPE – post COVID facemask series, 2020 by Alice Potts. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Image courtesy the artist