The Grand Tour of design 2021

Curator Maria Cristina Didero offers an overview of design events not to be missed during 2021.

Although it still looks a bit cloudy, 2021 might bring some rays of sunshine for design enthusiasts and professionals. Let’s be as optimistic as we can, in the hope that we can soon travel to discover new things and people, and enjoy that vibrant atmosphere that only more than one brain in a room can create.

Here’s a few events we’d like to attend this year – granted the world conditions allow it. In January (22-31/01), we would love to go to DesignTO in chilly Toronto, whose leitmotif is “Distanced and Digital”, and then reach the other side of the globe for the fourth edition of the colourful and lively Bangkok Design Week (BKKDW), whose theme is “Resurgence of Possibilities” (30/01-7/02). February is an intense month: from 18 to 21 February, the white peaks of St. Moritz will host the exclusive Nomad fair created by Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte and Giorgio Pace. Then, the Madrid Design Festival founded by Alvaro Matias (1-28/02) is certainly worth seeing before moving north again to attend Stockholm Design Week (8-14/02).  The same month, let’s change continent and go to South Africa for the Design Indaba conference founded by Ravi Naidoo, who intends to make the most of 2021 by organising a more suitable format for the following year. There are no physical events for the end of February – but keep an eye on the internet.

DesignMarch is the name of the event that brings Icelandic (but not only) creativity to Reykjavík in the same month. Now in its twelfth edition, this festival, which was created during the country’s financial crisis, welcomes visitors to extraordinary venues including Harpa, an original piece of architecture overlooking the harbour and whose southern façade was designed by Danish-Icelandic Ólafur Elíasson. In defiance of its name, as it already happened in 2020, the new DesignMarch dates have now been moved to May (19-23/05). In line with this adventure on ice looking at endless sunsets over the sea, it would also be interesting to visit Artic Design Week, (22-28/03), the northernmost design week of all, organised by the city of Rovaniemi and the University of Lapland. In anticipation of the spring that 2020 has stolen from us, Milan used to host Miart in April, but this year it has been postponed until September (17-19/09), just before our beloved Salone del Mobile (05-09/09), which has been moved from its usual date, too. In New York in May, i.e. before the big Milan fair finally reopens its doors, it will be possible to visit nycxdesign (13-18/05) and the colossal Swiss early summer events in Basel: ArtBasel and Design Miami (17-20/06). Also in June, if possible, I would not miss the young creatives in Jerusalem for the Design Week – the dates of which are yet to be confirmed.

After the Salone del Mobile in Milan at the end of September, I’d pop over to London for the LDF –  London Design Festival, hosted by Ben Evans (18-26/09); it seems that the 2020 edition, although digital, has been a huge success, with virtual dinners and fabulous free gifts for VIPs. September is a busy month and it that cannot be ignored: Maison&Objet will be back in Paris from 10 to 14 September, as well as Paris Design Week (9-18/09). In the same country, I would try not to miss the Design Parade editions of Toulon and Hyères, curated by Jean-Pierre Blanc and chaired by Pascale Mussard.  Here too, the dates have yet to be confirmed, just like Lilli Hollein’s timeless Vienna Design Week. The Dubai Design Week, an appointment in the United Arab Emirates with Middle Eastern (and other) forms, has been confirmed for November (8-13/11). Those who can, should go to South America and stop off in Mexico, a design week that usually welcomes the public in October and involves the entire marvellous capital city – we are anxiously awaiting the definitive dates. Also in October there’s Dutch Design Week, which this year will take place from 16 to 24 October, and is one of the freshest experiences on the international design scene, which sadly couldn’t take place in 2020. Finally, an all-American end of the year in New York for the ICFF fair at the Javits Centre (14-15/11) and WantedDesign, followed by the beautiful limited edition fair Salon + Art and Design (11-15/11) and a trip to warm Miami in December to visit the Basel fairs as well as Untitled, but this time under the palm trees. It should be interesting, in 12 months’ time, to look back and see what we really managed to do and discover over the course of this long-awaited 2021.

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