DesignTO Festival is Canada’s leading (and largest) annual design festival that celebrates design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making, with over 100 exhibitions and events forming Toronto’s design week each January. In 2020, the Festival had 800+ participating artists and designers, and received 160K+ visitors. You can read more in our 2019-2020 Annual Report here.

Here are three ways you can participate in the Festival:

1. Independent Projects

Independent Projects are exhibitions, events (e.g. tours, talks, workshops), and window installations that are wholly created and executed by an individual or organization during the DesignTO Festival at a venue of their choice. This year, we also have a digital project category.

This is for you if:
You are a designer, organization or venue that has an event, exhibition, window installation or digital project you want to self-produce and register with the Festival.

The Festival’s role:
The Festival provides a promotional platform for Independent Projects as part of Festival Week. Independent Projects are listed online, included in general festival marketing, and provided with Festival-specific signage (e.g. window cling). Additional marketing may also be provided based on merit and media interest.

Fees:
There is a registration fee, based on the size of your organization. Apply by August 31 to receive $25 off your registration fee.

Call Opens:
May 11, 2020

Deadline:
October 9, 2020

2. Venue-Designer Matchmaking Program

This program pairs designers with a venue to host their project. Projects include exhibitions, events (e.g. tours, talks, workshops), and window installations that are wholly created and executed by an individual or organization during the DesignTO Festival at the host venue. Host venues provide their spaces free-of-charge and pay the registration fee.

This is for you if:
You run a shop, gallery, studio, café, school, cinema or other venue in Toronto that you would like to see activated with design during the Festival.

– OR –

You are a designer that wants to present an exhibition, event or window installation during the Festival, but you don’t have a venue. This is a good option for non-local designers.

The Festival’s role:
The Festival acts as a matchmaker to pair host venues and guest designers. The process starts by the Festival seeking host venues through an open call for submissions. A list of confirmed venues is shared through an open call for guest designers. Designers submit their proposals and select their top three venue choices. Based on characteristics and fit of the project with the venue, the Festival makes matches.

(Successful matches become Independent Projects, with the designer as the main contact. See above for details.)

Fees:
Host Venues: There is a registration fee, based on the size of your organization. You can also opt to provide the designer with additional support.
Guest Designers: You are responsible for all costs associated with the creation and execution of your project.

Calls Open:
Host Venue: June 1, 2020
Guest Designer: July 20, 2020

Deadlines:
Host Venue: July 10, 2020
Guest Designer: Rolling deadline, with final applications due September 14, 2020

***New this year: Matchmaking will take place on a rolling basis. Guest designers should apply early to increase the likelihood that they will be matched with their preferred host venue.***

3. DesignTO Projects
DesignTO Projects are exhibitions and events curated and executed by the Festival. Participation in these projects is through a combination of open calls for submission and by invitation.

For 2021, we have three calls for submission:
– Symposium
– Thematic Exhibition
– Prototype Exhibition

This is for you if:
You are a designer, artist, architect, curator, educator, or researcher whose work is relevant to the themes outlined in each call for submission.

The Festival’s role:
The Festival curates and executes these exhibitions and events in their entirety, sometimes in partnership with other organizations.

Fees:
There is no fee to submit to the open calls for submission. DesignTO pays exhibition and speaking fees to successful applicants.

Calls Open:
June 1, 2020

Deadline:
September 25, 2020

Other ways to get involved

Key Dates
2020
Monday, May 11
  • Call for Independent Projects Opens
Monday, June 1
  • Venue-Designer Matchmaking Program – Call for Host Venues Opens
  • DesignTO Projects – Call for Submissions Opens
    • Symposium
    • Thematic Exhibition
    • Prototype Exhibition
Friday, July 10
  • DEADLINE: Venue-Designer Matchmaking Program – Call for Host Venues Closes
Monday, July 20
  • Venue-Designer Matchmaking Program – Call for Guest Designers Opens
Monday, August 31
  • DEADLINE: Independent Projects – Early bird rate deadline
Monday, September 14
  • DEADLINE: Venue-Designer Matchmaking Program – Call for Guest Designers Closes
Friday, September 25
  • DEADLINE: DesignTO Projects – Call for Submissions Closes
    • Symposium
    • Thematic Exhibition
    • Prototype Exhibition
Friday, October 9
  • DEADLINE: Call for Independent Projects Closes
Friday, October 23
  • DEADLINE: All Projects – Content Due
2021
Wednesday, January 13 – DATE TBC
  • Exhibitor Meet-up
Friday, January 22 – Sunday, January 31
  • DesignTO Festival