Design festivals and conferences began to recover from the pandemic this fall. After the trade show season has ended for another year, here are the 10 most popular events of 2021 according to visitors to the Dezeen Events Guide.
The Dezeen Events Guide lists hundreds of international architecture and design exhibitions, lectures, trade shows and more. Contact [email protected] to inquire if your event will be listed.
1st Milan Design Week
Canceled last year and postponed from April to September this year, Milan established itself as the world design capital this year with a smaller than usual offering that attracted a surprisingly large and lively crowd.
The rescheduling for Milan Design Week was spearheaded by the anchor event Salone del Mobile (below), followed by fuorisalone events across the city. The highlights this year included a student reinterpretation of the Korova Milk Bar from the film A Clockwork Orange (pictured) at the Alcova show and a spectacular installation by the luxury brand Hermès.
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2nd London Design Festival
London’s annual festival this year had to rival a full September calendar with many events being postponed in hopes of avoiding the ravages of the pandemic. Although Brexit is making traveling to the UK more difficult than before, LDF’s popularity with Dezeen Events Guide readers shows the enduring appeal of both the festival and the city.
This year’s highlights included 18 rainbow-colored pedestrian crossings by Yinka Ilori and a virtual installation by Sou Fujimoto (pictured).
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The Salone del Mobile is part of the broader Milan Design Week (see above), but the furniture fair was nonetheless the third most popular entry in the Dezeen Events Guide this year.
After a dispute in which the president of the fair resigned and the event almost stopped taking place for the second year in a row, architect Stefano Boeri stepped up to give vision and optimism to the world’s most important furniture fair, renamed Supersalone.
Dezeen live broadcast a series of discussions called Open Talks that took place at the show, while highlights included a temporary forest of 200 trees (pictured) that is now being planted across town.
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4th Venice Architecture Biennale
The world’s premier architecture festival was another event postponed from 2020, boldly sticking to its revamped 2021 schedule, and opening in May, just as Europe was emerging from the lockdown.
Curator Hashim Sarkis eschewed the usual star architects and instead chose a refreshing line-up of contributors to focus on his “How will we live together?” In a Dezeen feature that summarized the participants’ responses, architects praised his curation as “interesting and brave”.
Highlights included this year’s Danish pavilion (pictured above and above), which explored the circular shape of water, and Wooden Framing, an exhibition in the US pavilion about the American timber industry.
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5. Design Miami / Basel
The art world finally got its mojo again in September when the great Art Basel takes place in Switzerland after a break in 2020. The accompanying collector’s fair Design Miami / Basel turned out to be the fifth most popular event among our readers.
This year’s projects included a series of 3D-printed ships depicting population data from 140 countries by designer Mathieu Lehanneur (pictured).
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6th Madrid Design Festival
The Spanish capital has hosted this event every February since 2001. The 2021 event was a virtual affair, but that didn’t stop them from making the top ten lists this year.
The highlights of 2019 included Extraperlo (pictured), an exhibition curated by the designer Jorge Penadés, in which he invited 14 international designers to create objects the size of a shoebox.
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7th Melbourne Design Week
Exhibits at Australia’s premier design week this year included a proposed $ 100 billion zero-carbon strategy for Melbourne “that would pay for itself in less than 10 years” (pictured) and a show showing the designers’ side activities examined.
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The New York City flagship design event has been postponed from May to November of this year due to the pandemic, meaning it hadn’t even happened at the time of this writing, but still made it into our top ten.
In 2019, mixed media artist Ty Williams illustrated a range of Fort Standard chairs (pictured) with their signature coastal shapes.
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9. 3 days design
Stockholm’s Mini Design Festival was one of the few to physically take place last year after being postponed from its regular date in May to September last year. The event is seen by many as a blueprint for the future, as it is small in size, lets you enjoy the city and is not anchored by a large trade fair.
This year’s festival again offered the design crowd one of the first networking opportunities after the recent lockdowns. One of the highlights was the introduction of the fabric collection by Peter Saville for Kvadrat (pictured). Dezeen attended the launch and streamed a live interview with the designer.
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10th Stockholm Design Week
Scandinavia’s biggest design celebration has been a tight run this year, with humble showroom events alongside digital initiatives including a virtual video studio designed by ASKA. British designer Tom Dixon bypassed travel restrictions related to Covid by performing at the festival via a hologram (pictured).
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