Call for Submissions: Exhibit at the 10th Annual DesignTO Festival

Get involved in the 10th annual DesignTO Festival! Present an independent project, submit to one of the Festival’s curated exhibitions or half-day symposium, or be a Host Venue. Keep reading to learn more about each opportunity.

The DesignTO Festival brings people together to celebrate contemporary design across the city January 17-26, 2020.

Join the Festival to become a part of an exciting network of creative people, exhibitions, events, and a captive audience of designers and design-lovers. Last year the Festival had 100+ events and exhibitions across the city with 150K+ visitors. From design talks to experimental installations to prototypes to opening parties and curated exhibitions, the Festival featured the work of over 600 artists and designers in 2019.

Future Retrospectives

Future Retrospectives explores the diverse ways we can reframe materials, traditions, and techniques into new objects and contexts by shifting our perspective forward, and then looking back. This methodology of imagining the future by looking back provides us with a better sense of approaches and actions we can employ to progress and innovate. What can we discover about what we need through a future-past tense lens? What does our present or past offer us as a starting point for creation or innovation? What can we bring forward to get “there”?

We invite submissions from artists and designers working in all mediums and formats. We are open to projects expressed in 2- or 3-dimensions, digital or analog, whether they be object- or concept-based.

Deadline: all submissions are due Friday, September 20, 2019 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and submit your work.

DesignTO Symposium: A Future without Work

What is a future without work as we know it?

For most of us, it is impossible to imagine society without it, because work dominates and permeates every aspect of our lives.

Whether you consider work as a source of subsistence or purpose, the sacredness of work runs deep through both past and present social interactions, economy, and politics. An obsession with work lies at the core of our education system. The labour force drives our national economies. Working to earn a living is often a necessity and expectation. It can offer individuals a sense of purpose, providing opportunities for learning, growth, and prosperity. It gives status, and thereby access to many benefits and networks. Work shapes our lives and identity.

This year DesignTO investigates the theme of ‘A Future without Work’. We seek designers and thinkers exploring new forms of work. Whether you reflect on the past, design pathways into the future, experiment with new forms of work, or design alternative work environments, we want to hear from you.

Deadline: all submissions are due Friday, September 20, 2019 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and submit your talk proposal.


Half of the world’s population lives in urban centres where real estate is expensive and space is hard to come by. Space becomes increasingly precious, which has resulted in a trend towards making small spaces more livable and efficient. At the same time, the nature of work has changed drastically. Many people no longer work 9-5 in standard office spaces. With innovations in technology that make remote working possible, co-working spaces and home offices have proliferated. As our ideas of working and living continue to be redefined, the boundaries between work and life have become harder to distinguish.

In being mindful of contemporary living, ‘Work/Life’ invites designs for innovative houseware and workware that consider opportunities for multiple functions, storage, space efficiency, personalization, dual utility, entertaining, and other hybrid and micro-living concerns.

Deadline: all submissions are due Friday, September 20, 2019 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and submit your work.

2020 Exhibitor Registration

Independently-produced events, exhibitions, and window installations are integral to the Festival’s structure. We welcome all who want to present, discuss, demonstrate, or exhibit design in any field and/or related disciplines. Exhibitors include artists, designers, design firms, local businesses, academic and cultural institutions, and students. Exhibitors are responsible for arranging their own venue in the city of Toronto, including spaces such as galleries, studios, workshops, cafés, schools, lobbies, and businesses.

The 10th annual DesignTO Festival runs January 17-26, 2020, for 10 days. Window installations must run for the entire week, events must take place during the week, and exhibitions must run during some part of the week. Window installations and exhibitions can start before and/or end after Festival Week.


  • Early Bird Registration Deadline: Saturday, August 31, 2019 by 11:59pm EST.
  • Final Registration Deadline: Friday, October 4, 2019 by 11:59pm EST.
  • Content Deadline: Friday, October 18, 2019 (for all listings)

Click here to learn more and register as an exhibitor.

Call for Host Venues

Do you have a venue you’d like to have activated with a window installation, event, or exhibition? We want to hear from you! Potential venues include spaces in the City of Toronto such as shops, galleries, studios, cafés, schools, and cinemas.

By submitting to this call for host venues, you agree to host a creative project by an artist or designer during Festival Week, January 17-26, 2020. The duration and type of participation is entirely determined by you when you make your submission. Host venues pay a registration fee, and provide the venue free of charge to the artist or designer.

Deadline: all submissions are due Friday, June 21, 2019 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and register as a host venue.

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1214 Queen Street West, Studio 203
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1J6

Image credits:
‘Series Five Totems’ by Djuna Day. Photo by Jono Details
“Desert Pools (Atacama)” by Karen Miranda Abel at ‘Surface Tension’. Photo by Chen Shang