If September was all about design, then October is art. The twin juggernauts of Frieze and FIAC take over London and Paris respectively, complemented by fairs like Frieze Masters, PAD and Arts and Design Elysées plus the Affordable Art Fair in London and Amsterdam. For design fans, Germany’s Designer’s Open and Austria’s Blickfang with design weeks in Eindhoven and Istanbul should hit the spot. And don’t miss superb new gallery openings Newport Street Gallery and Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, plus a major retrospective of Anselm Kiefer in Paris.

Architecture and building

The building trade events start with BWS (6-9 October), Austria’s biggest fair for trade fair for wood processing, manufacturing and finishing. Every 2 years it provides a showcase for the latest tools and products. Bauen & Wohnen Hannover features building and renovation for consumers as well as trade (10-18 October).

Grand Designs Live in Birmingham, UK (8-11 October) is the UK’s biggest consumer show exhibition for self build, design, interiors and innovation. 500 exhibitors covering interiors, gardens, kitchens and bathrooms, home improvement, self-build, renovations and technology.

Bygg Reis Deg (16-19 October) is a major building and construction exhibition in Lillestrøm, Norway, featuring more than 500 exhibitors.

Moscow takes on all aspects of the building trade on 22-25 October with Beautiful Houses, Beautiful Wooden Houses, Russian Architecture Salon and Salon Interior Design ensuring Moscovites need not leave their city for a whole home makeover.

Building Green (28-29 October) in Copenhagen, Denmark is the country’s biggest market place for sustainable design, construction and the built environment, expanding again this year and with an extended meetings programme.

In terms of specialist shows, the Europe-travelling Architect@Work, aimed at architects, interior designers, shopfitters etc, lands in Marseilles with its mix of innovative products, equipment and tech.

Veteco in Madrid (25-28 October) is a major event for the window and sun protection industries and the place to buy high performance glass, featuring 1,200 exhibitors from 80 countries covering windows, curtain walls and structural glass treatments.

Art and antiques

October’s exceptionally arty month starts with Art Parma Fair (10-11 October), offering a broad array of galleries presenting modern and contemporary art. But that’s a mere bagatelle compared to what’s to come.

As one of the world’s leading and largest contemporary art fairs (with every major gallery worldwide taking part), Frieze London starts the frenzy (14-17 October). In 2014 the event hit critical mass, with even tabloid newspapers weighing in on curator’s and client’s fashion sense, the quality of the art and the celebrity count. As always it coincides with Frieze Masters, which gives ‘a contemporary perspective on historical art’ and features another 120 galleries offering work from ancient to modern. Frieze also spreads art out into London with many non-participating galleries throwing their own shows. The half a mile or so between Frieze and PAD ie Oscar Tusquets Blanca’s exhibition Hot Days at Room One, or striking contemporary African art at the brand new Tyburn Gallery. The half-mile or so between Frieze and PAD is a particular hotbed. PAD London (14-18 October) is the capital’s leading fair for 20th century decorative arts, featuring modern art, photography, design, decorative and tribal arts with museum quality pieces.

Also in the city but appropriately located in the edgier East End, Moniker Art Fair and The Other Art Fair (15-18 October) represent urban-inspired contemporary art and emerging or undiscovered artists respectively.

At the same time in Paris, Salon d’Automne (15-18 October) welcomes a range of art from painting and sculpture to computer art and performance. It was set up buy Henri Matisse among others to rival the conservative ‘Paris Salon’.

But the really big art week in Paris is a little later. Art Élysées and Design Élysées (22-26 October) features in Art Élysées nearly 70 galleries presenting modern and contemporary art, and via Design Élysées, furniture and objects from the 20th century. Like PAD and Frieze it is backed up by another major fair, possibly bigger even than Frieze in visitor numbers: FIAC (23-26 October) modern and contemporary art galleries plus a major art prize: Prix Marcel Duchamp. (OFF)ICIELLE is its satellite, specialising in emerging and overlooked talents. Look out for the Hors Les Murs programme, featuring outside installations from the likes of Kengo Kuma, Vivien Roubaud and Virginie Yassef, plus, like London, a fabulous range of exhibitions in many commercial galleries.

Look out too for Salon Art Shopping, an accessible contemporary art fair (23-26 October). Amsterdam and London have their own accessible art shows in the shape of the very popular Affordable Art Fair – 22-25 October in the UK and in Holland – featuring decorative art from approximately £100 to £5,000.

Elsewhere in Europe there are further fairs: ART3F, which features galleries, painters, sculptors, photographers and performers in different locations around France, is in Nice (16-19 October). Artverona (16-19 October), with a strong performance element is in Verona, Italy. Meanwhile in Milan the Mediterranea 17 Young Artists Biennale, organized by the BJCEM (22 October-22 November) brings together 300 of the continent’s best visual artists, filmmakers, writers, performers, musicians, designers stylists – and chefs – under the age of 35. The theme is ‘No Food’s Land’.

At the end of the month comes Kunst Zurich (29 October-1 November) a well-established fair with some 150 galleries plus booths for newly established galleries, spaces and performance artists.

There are a few vintage and collectibles fairs, kicking off with the Newark Antiques and Collector’s Fair in the UK (8-9 October), the biggest bric a brac and vintage fair in Europe with some 2,500 stands.

Les Puces du Design in Paris (8-11 October) was the first European market dedicated to post-war design (1950-2000). Expect furniture, objets d’art, fashion etc. The Salon du Vintage, also in Paris (17-18 October) features 2000 m² of shopping space dedicated to clothing, accessories, vinyl and small furniture also from 50s to the 90s. Last of the month is Salon des Antiquaires Tournai in Belgium (30 October 1 November).

Interiors and design

Design-focused events continue with Istanbul Design Week (14-18 October) a lively and eclectic seven days featuring symposiums, workshops and conferences aimed at connecting designers and creative ideas from different disciplines of design.

Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven (17-25 October) is an internationally renowned design fair with 300+ events and the aim of introducing the public to the infinite possibilities of design, so expect unusual disciplines like bio design and a strong emphasis on the future. It’s the biggest design event in northern Europe, with more than 2400 designers presenting to more than 250,000 visitors. Across 80 locations you’ll find exhibitions, lectures, prize ceremonies, networking events, debates and festivities.

There are several major design expos too, starting with the Lisbon Design Show in Portugal (7-11 October), dedicated to design in all its forms from 
products to fashion and interiors.

Designer’s Open (23-25 October) is the leading design festival in Germany for trade and consumer. DO/Industry offers a symposium and curated special exhibition based on smart technology and showcasing innovative developments from industrial design, science and research. DO/Market and DO/Fashion offer shopping while DO/Spots takes the festival into Leipzig, Halle and Dresden city centres.

Blickfang Vienna (30 October-1 November) is a big design expo in Austria featuring designers from 14 different countries presenting and selling furniture, fashion and jewellery.

As always there are numerous localised interiors shows scattered across Europe, so we’ll just highlight the two biggest. The Ideal Home Show Ireland (23-26 October) is the country’s biggest consumer interiors fair. Look out for events like Colortrend Interior Design Forum featuring room-sets from seven Irish interior designers, free architectural advice and the ‘Extend & Renovate’ Village.

The Foire D’Automne (23-26 October) features with 400+ exhibitors and offers products for home decoration and furnishing (plus experts and workshops), DIY, garden, gastronomy and wine, beauty and accessories.

Look out too for two specialist hotel shows. The Independent Hotel Show in London (20-21 October) was only launched three years ago and presents a collection of the UK’s finest companies not typically seen at events, hand-picked to ensure a high level of quality and breadth of products & services luxury and boutique hotels require. InteriHotel in Madrid (21-23 October) is the only event of its kind in Spain, specialising in hotel interiors from lighting and floor coverings to bathrooms and sleep systems.


Rather unusually there are two major galleries opening in London this month. The first is commercial, which wouldn’t normally cause much eye opening during Frieze week, but the Gagosian Grosvenor Hill is no average commercial gallery – this monumental, purpose-built space has been designed by Caruso St John and its first exhibition features work from Cy Twombly (from 11 October).

Also designed by Caruso St John but rather more exotic is the Newport Street Gallery, a public space wholly funded and owned by Damien Hirst to show off his collection of contemporary art – don’t expect any sliced sharks but plenty of other artists. Its opening exhibition is John Hoyland: Power Station Paintings (from 8 October), strikingly graphic and colourful urban depictions. You can also dine at pharmacy2, a reboot of Hirst’s short-lived Notting Hill restaurant.

It’s also the month for the always-controversial Turner Prize, held in Scotland for the first time this year, in Glasgow (from 1 October). The prize is offered to the artist deemed to have offered the most interesting exhibition that year: 2015’s finalists are Bonnie Camplin, Janice Kerbel, Nicole Wermers and, rather unusually, an architect’s collective, Assemble, who work with onsite materials no matter how damaged.

Meanwhile the Vitra Design Museum in Germany is looking backwards to one of the most influential movements of all time: Bauhaus (to 28 February). #itsalldesign provides a comprehensive overview of the Bauhaus concept of design with a multiplicity of rare, in some cases never-before-seen exhibits from the fields of design, architecture, art, film and photography, but also documents the underlying developmental processes and societal models.

In Paris we’re liking the look of Anselm Kiefer: Alchemy of Books at the Biblioteque Nationale de France (from 20 October). Although Kiefer is known for his sculptures and paintings, more than 60% of his output is ‘artists books’, which are here presented in a comprehensive retrospective for the first time, interspersed with paintings and sculptures and ranging from 1968-2015. More than 100 pieces (some very large) explore the topics Kiefer has been dealing with for 40 years, and are made of materials as diverse as clay, sand, ashes, hair, plants, straw, photos and lead.

Looking at exhibitions that have already started, don’t miss Designers in Residence (to 31 March) at the Design Museum. This annual exhibition, which celebrates new and emerging talent, features designers selected by a distinguished panel. The theme in 2015 is Migration. Tate Modern’s World goes Pop tells the global story of pop art,  revealing a different side to the artistic and cultural phenomenon.  Ai Wei Wei takes over The Royal Academy of Arts with his brand of irreverent yet thoughtful, challenging yet beautiful work. This is the UK’s first major survey of his work and presents some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day.