After the ‘silliest’ part of the silly season dies down, you are often left with a sluggish feeling that sits halfway between fatigue and futility. As much as you hate to admit it, you are longing for routine and mental stimulation again. As the old saying goes, ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground’. 

What better to fertilise your weary mind than a festival themed ‘Call to Action’? Now in its 20th year, the Sydney Design Festival is the ultimate event for anyone with a penchant for design, architecture and art, bringing together thought-leaders from around the world to celebrate and examine future directions in the industry. Taking place from 2-11 March at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), as well as various satellite locations around Sydney.

Among the highlights, writer, comedian and design enthusiast Tim Ross (from the iconic radio duo Merrick and Rosso) will curate his first exhibition as part of Sydney Design Festival. Design Nation will celebrate the ingenuity of Australian design, showcasing Ross’ picks of Australia’s most iconic, everyday inventions from the Museum's collection. From the Ford Capri to the famous Stackhat helmet of the 1980s, take a trip down memory lane when Design Nation opens at the Powerhouse Museum on 2 March. Ross will present curator talks on 9 and 10 March.

Pamm Hong

Designer Pamm Hong will also present her design process on 2 March, including her commission for the Common Good exhibition; the Watermelon Sugar Wellness Lab. Recently listed as one of the Top 20 Disruptors by the Global Futures Forum 2016, Hong’s design approach combines art, science and technology to produce interactive digital works.

Eisuke Tachikawa, the founder of Japanese design collective NOSIGNER, will share his passion for design solutions to social issues in a talk at the Powerhouse Museum on 5 March. Zhang Ke, award-winning architect and founder of ZAO/standardarchitecture 标准营造, will give a keynote address delving into his design process at Powerhouse Museum on 6 March. Heralding a new era in Chinese architecture, the ZAO/standardarchitecture studio has designed large-scale works in Shanghai, Beijing and Tibet. 

Join a panel of designers and social researchers to discuss The Dangers of Empathy on 6 March at Freda’s in Chippendale. The panel will explore the role of empathy in designing solutions in sectors such as financial services and government.

With fewer than 10% of Wikipedia editors being women, Hack the Canon: Women in Design Wikipedia-edit-a-thon is a step towards addressing this huge gender imbalance. Be a part of the solution and get editing at St Peters Library on 10 March.

For more information and to book tickets please visit

Grand designs: the ultimate design-lover's festival lands in Sydney