Call for Submissions: Exhibit at the 11th Annual DesignTO Festival
Get involved in the 11th annual DesignTO Festival! Present an independent project, submit to one of the Festival’s...

Get involved in the 11th annual DesignTO Festival! Present an independent project, submit to one of the Festival’s curated exhibitions or 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 22-31, 2021.

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. In 2020, the Festival had 100+ events and exhibitions across the city with 160K+ visitors. From design talks to experimental installations to prototypes to opening parties and curated exhibitions, the Festival featured the work of over 800 artists and designers.

DesignTO Thematic Exhibition: Exchange Piece

The practice of care can be found in all aspects of our lives. From objects and places, to ideas and policies, and people and communities, care in the creative process affects the way we relate and position ourselves to the things we create and interact with.

Exchange Piece seeks to explore collaboration as an act of care. It is constructed around an exchange and conversation between early career and senior artists and designers. Selected artists are paired, an introduction is made, and then a collaborative “exchange piece” is created through conversations between them.

We invite submissions from artists and designers working in all mediums and formats, at all stages of their practice. 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 25, 2020 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and submit your work.

DesignTO Symposium: Towards Inclusive Design

How do we design for inclusion? What is the future of Inclusive Design?

There are 7.7 billion people in the world today, and we are more connected than ever before. As cities continue to become more diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation, the need for a more inclusive environment has become undeniable. Designers have the power to address needs, improve lives, and inspire thought and innovation.

This symposium invites designers and thinkers to explore how we can design for inclusivity. How can we create great designs for the greatest number of people? How can we use our unique reality of human diversity as a resource for products, services, systems, environments and experiences that include rather than exclude? How can we continue to move beyond diversity and inclusion “lip-service” towards a tangible reality where everyone can participate in society with a sense of belonging?

We welcome multiple and varied perspectives and responses to the theme ‘Towards Inclusive Design’. Talks may be about current research or case studies, new products or technologies, spaces or experiences, speculative design or strategies, or new processes or policies.

Deadline: all submissions are due Friday, September 25, 2020 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and submit your talk proposal.


In a world where home sizes were already dwindling and our ideas of working and living have been constantly redefined, the boundaries between work and life were drastically altered by the pandemic. Work/Life has a whole new meaning.

For those of us able to work from home, 2020 has pushed the boundaries of living and breathing Work/Life. Every household object has become precious. Products in our home morph to have multiple uses. Our scrutiny of products — what they do and what we need — is heightened.

Drawing upon these conditions, Work/Life invites designers to explore what design will be in the coming year. How can we evaluate a “new quality of life” through prototypes? Consider opportunities for multiple functions, storage, space efficiency, personalization, dual utility, entertaining, and other hybrid and micro-living concerns. The exhibition invites designers to think about the whole environment that we live and work in, and welcomes creative responses to the theme.

Deadline: all submissions are due Friday, September 25, 2020 by 11:59pm EST.

Click here to learn more and submit your work.

Independent Projects

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 11th annual DesignTO Festival runs January 22-31, 2021, for 10 days. Project types include events, exhibitions, window installation, and digital projects (new this year).


  • Early Bird Registration Deadline: Monday, August 31, 2020 by 11:59pm EST.
  • Final Registration Deadline: Friday, October 9, 2020 by 11:59pm EST.
  • Content Deadline: Friday, October 23, 2020 (for all listings)

Click here to learn more and apply 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 22-31, 2021. 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, July 10, 2020 by 11:59pm EST.

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

A note regarding COVID-19:

During this unprecedented time, we are reminded of what DesignTO is about: creativity, community, and experimentation. We have seen our community come together in inspiring ways, from making PPE and developing pandemic specific apps, to supporting local makers and retailers. DesignTO is keeping informed about the situation and will let you know of any changes to the 2021 Festival as they arise.

We look forward to a future when we are able to gather again.



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PO Box 31027 College Square
Toronto, Ontario M6G 4A7

Image credits:
Works by Adhavan Sundaramurthy and SHATTERED MOON ALLIANCE at ‘Future Retrospectives’. Photo by Simon Liao
‘Episteme’ by Bart Hess and Ricky van Broekhoven. Photo by Hannah Nguyen