Deadline: June 21, 2019

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.

If 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 lobbies.

How this works:

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. Here is an outline of options:

  • A window installation runs the whole duration of Festival Week, and is visible to the public 24 hours a day from the outside of your venue. Depending on the space, the installation may also be viewable from inside your venue during regular business/gallery hours.
  • An event runs one day during Festival Week, for a set period of time. For example, events can include a talk, tour, product launch, film screening, party, or workshop.
  • An exhibition runs more than one day during Festival Week. It is open to the public during regular business/gallery hours, and may include a window component. It can start before Festival Week, and end after Festival Week. It may also include an opening or closing reception, or artist/designer’s talk.

Please allow additional days for installation and tear-down, as mutually determined by you and the designer.

If there is a preference for the type of work, e.g. product design or art, please let us know when you register. After we receive your submission, we will work to pair you with an artist or designer. You will not be involved in the selection process, but you will receive information about the designer, and see their online portfolio or get information about what they are proposing to show. At that time, you will have 1 week to review this material, and make your final decision. If you decide that the project is unsuitable, we will try to propose another designer, or cancel your participation in this program. The review period occurs in late September 2019, and its success is based on your timely replies.

As a host venue, you also agree to pay the registration fee as described below, and provide your venue free-of-charge to the designer. The designer is responsible for all costs of creating and mounting the creative project. Dates and details are mutually determined by you and the designer. Your venue will be mentioned (by name and address) where and when applicable in relation to the listing of the project you are hosting. Details are provided below.

Each exhibitor registration includes the following:

  • A listing on the online Festival Schedule (one page with up to 6 images, 200-word description, 1 associated reception or other event);
  • A listing on the Festival mobile App (one page with up to 6 images, 40-word description, 1 associated reception or other event);
  • A listing in the printed Festival Guide (event or exhibition name, dates, address, 40-word description) with an anticipated distribution of 10,000 copies city-wide;
  • Inclusion in one “What to do” daily e-newsletter; and
  • DesignTO venue signage (e.g. Festival window cling, not project-specific).


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


  • Window installation
  • Event
  • Exhibition

Fees (to be paid by host venue)

$250 + HST for small businesses (including independent shops, artist-run centres, and private galleries)
$325 + HST for large businesses and institutions

All fees already include a $25 early bird registration discount. All fees will be invoiced after the designer pairing is confirmed in September 2019.

Why Participate?

  • Be a part of Toronto’s diverse design community
  • Support the creative work of artists and designers
  • Get exposure through the Festival’s website, mobile App, social media, press releases, e-newsletters, and printed guide distributed at all Festival venues
  • Meet and build relationships with new artists, designers, educators, curators, and manufacturers
  • Engage with a captive audience for less than standard advertising rates


Image: Custom Lighting Installation, photo by Steve Chan