19 Top Design, Art and Architecture Events You Should Not Miss in Europe in 2016

Let’s face it: you could visit an amazing exhibition, trend-making fair, spectacular new building or award-winning museum every day in 2016 and still not scratch the surface of what’s on across our fair continent. So we’ve selected 19 of our favourite, most important or simply interesting-sounding events, exhibitions, fairs and openings to help you plan your time this year. You’re welcome!


London Festival of Architecture

1-30 June, UK

This citywide celebration of architectural experimentation, thinking and practice will this year respond to the theme of Community, by exploring the central role that architecture plays in developing and questioning the definition of community. Thematic strands include housing estate regeneration, creative workplaces, new and green communities, engagement and how London stacks up against other cities. Look out, as always, for walks, talks, events and installations in Trafalgar Square, – that’s not forgetting the 69 partner events, 82 related projects and 62 open studios.
Associated events include the Royal Academy’s 248th Summer Exhibition (from 13 June), with the Architecture room curated by Ian Ritchie and Louisa Hutton. Meanwhile the Serpentine Pavilion is expanding, with four Summer Houses joining the Pavilion. As always, each architect chosen by the Serpentine has yet to build a permanent building in England. The pavilion itself, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, has an ‘unzipped’ wall that gives a beehive effect, while the summer house designers, Asif Khan, Yona Friendman, Barkow Leibinger and Kunle Adeyemi are inspired by the nearby Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classical style summer house, built in 1734.

9th Berlin Biennale

4 June- 18 September, Germany

This major biennale in one of the world’s coolest cities is, at time of writing, being mischievously incommunicative about what to expect – “A pop album by artists may or may not replace the press release. Performance art may or may not be the future of advanced interior design…” but we do know the multi-platform, New York-based collective DIS are curating.

Tate Modern Extension

June, London, UK

The much-anticipated Tate Modern Extension will open its doors on 17 June. A project of national significance, thousands of column inches have been spent on its design, cost, aim and so on, but the test will be what visitors think. The aim of the extension is to create more spaces for displaying the collection, performance and installation art and learning, allowing visitors to engage more deeply with art, as well as creating more social spaces for visitors to unwind and relax in the gallery. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, it’s a striking combination of the raw and refined. Its brick facade matches the existing structure, while also radically new – a perforated brick lattice with windows and the terrace appearing as cuts in the surface. It looms over the original Tate, its height responding to the iconic chimney of Giles Gilbert Scott’s power station.

Art Basel

16-19 June, Switzerland

Now in its 46th year, the vast event in Switzerland (which has spawned shows in Miami and Hong Kong) still functions as the art world’s premier platform for modern and contemporary art. It’s a vast and sometimes dizzying event with 300 leading galleries from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa showing the work of more than 4,000 artists, ranging from the great masters of modern art to the latest generation of emerging stars. They represent every artistic medium: paintings, sculpture, installations, videos, multiples, prints, photography, and performance. Each day offers a full program of events, including symposiums, films, and artist talks. Look out for Art Basel Cities, a new initiative helping cities develop and celebrate their unique cultural landscape, Parkours, site-specific sculptures, interventions, and performances in the city’s neighborhoods, Statements, exciting new solo projects by emerging artists, who are eligible to receive the prestigious Baloise Art Prize and Unlimited, for projects that transcend the classical art-show stand. The city buzzes with exhibitions, events and associated shows. Look out for VOLTA (13-18 June) which focuses on young unknown talent, SCOPE (14-19 June) also features emerging artists and features ‘extraordinary happenings’. Liste, in its 20th year (14-19 June) is the longest established of the ‘upstart’ fairs and was started by young gallerists pushing against the established brands.

Design Miami/ Basel

14-19 June, Switzerland

Arguably the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing and creating collectible design. The world’s top galleries also gather to present museum-quality exhibitions of 20th and 21st century furniture, lighting and objets d’art.

Masterpiece London

30 June-6 July, UK

This high-end fair exploded onto the scene six years ago, offering museum-quality pieces and promising a cross-over between art, antiques, design and jewellery.


New Designers, Parts 1 and 2

29 June-2 July and 6-9 July, London, UK

Still THE premier destination for scouting the future stars of design. The first part features Textiles & Fashion, Costume Design, Jewellery & Precious Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass and Contemporary Design Crafts. The second part of the showcase offers architecture, interiors, furniture and product design, plus graphics and illustration. Both have a ‘One Year On’ section.

Liverpool Biennal 2016

9 July – 16 October, UK

The 9th Liverpool Festival of Contemporary Art is looking at the city as a story through a series of scenarios – Ancient Greece (through its architecture), Chinatown (through migration), Children (Artists are invited to consider children as the primary audience), Futurology, Software and Flashback. Sounds intriguing.



When 4-8 September, January, France
This major biannual design fair at the forefront of decorative architectural solutions is not to be missed. Seven halls are stuffed with international brands, each featuring a special exhibition by a designer using products within.

Paris Design Week

When 5-12 September
In early September it’s Paris’s turn to become the centre of the design world. More than 250 launches, talks, seminars, parties and pop up shops in 120 city-wide venues. It incorporates NOW! Le Off focusing on young and emerging designers.

London Design Biennale
Somerset House
7-27 September, UK

The inaugural London Design Biennale’s aim is to provide a prestigious, global stage for the world’s leading contemporary design and design-led innovation, creativity and research. 40 nations will react to the theme of ‘Utopia by Design’, in honour of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, Utopia. Countries are encouraged to interrogate the history of the utopian idea and engage with some of the fundamental issues faced by humanity, suggesting solutions that use design and engineering. Their responses will not only show design’s innate power to strike up and inform debate, but also work as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures.

Habitare 15

9-13 September, Finland

This is Finland’s largest furniture, interior decoration and design fair. It combines with ValoLight lighting event, ArtHelsinki contemporary art fair and Antiikki, an exhibition of antique and vintage pieces and art.

London Design Festival

When 19-27 September
Why A myriad of design-led events, fairs, exhibitions and projects, with its heart at The V&A. Look out for the Landmark Projects, allowing leading designers and architects to experiment in some of the most iconic spaces in London. Decorex, 100% Design, DesignJunction, TENT and Super Brands London plus FOCUS/15 are some of the major, trend-leading fairs that make this design festival one of the world’s best – now made even better by the inaugural London Biennale (see above).


21–24 September 2016, London UK

We’re intrigued by this new contemporary decorative show staged as part of London Design Festival 2016. Heralding a highly selective approach to luxury design events, LuxuryMade focuses on the high-end interior design market, providing 50 brands with the very best examples of product across accessories, lighting, fabrics and furniture.


Frieze London

6-9 October, UK
Why One of the world’s leading contemporary art fairs featuring 160 of the biggest galleries and names in the art world. The event will coincide with Frieze Masters, a fair that gives a contemporary perspective on historical art. Look out too for Moniker Art Fair and The Other Art Fair.

Art Élysées, Design Élysées, FIAC

When 22-26 October

This major art week features in Art Élysées nearly 70 galleries presenting modern and contemporary art, and via Design Élysées, also furniture and objects from the 20th century. FIAC offers modern and contemporary art galleries plus two major art prizes. (OFF)ICIELLE is its emerging artist satellite.

Louise Bourgeois at The Louisiana Gallery of Modern Art

13 October 2016-26 February 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark

Passionate, painful, dramatic and extremely personal, The Cells by Louise Bourgeois – a large collection of strange and sensory spatial scenarios – will take over the whole of the Louisiana South Wing. The 25 cells on loan play on all the meanings of the word – from prison cell to monk’s cell to the smallest biological units of the body. Each work is an independent spatial unit filled with carefully arranged objects which in inter­action with cell walls of glass, wire mesh or old doors and reveal why she is one of the most striking and influential artists of the 20th century.


Design Museum Kensington

End 2016, beginning 2017, London, UK

2016 will be John Pawson’s year. First there’s Life House/Ty Bywyd (opening in spring in Wales) for holiday rental company Living Architecture, whose aim is to give laypeople the chance to experience the best of contemporary architecture, then there’s the Design Museum’s historic move to the old Commonwealth Building in Kensington. Pawson’s design keeps the famous parabolic roof while new glazed entrances will lead in towards the galleries located on the ground floor, basement and second floor, giving the museum three times the exhibition space of its current home at Shad Thames on the Southbank. It includes vastly improved learning facilities and a dedicated gallery to display its permanent collection. 

Goldsmiths Art Gallery

End 2016, beginning 2017, London, UK

Sustainable architecture collective Assemble are flying high after winning – slightly surprisingly – the Turner Prize in 2015. They’ve also been chosen to create a new public art gallery for Goldsmiths University within a former Victorian bathhouse. The aim is to create an ensemble of varied rooms each of which will offer flexibility through variety. Many of the bath’s cast-iron water tanks will be preserved, whilst new top-lit galleries will be inserted to provide a distinct spatial counterpoint.

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