As Europe prepares for the summer holidays, the event schedule slows tight down. Nonetheless, look out for the fantastic New Designers Parts I and II, the intriguing Liverpool Biennal, Browns Art Weekend, the Manchester Furniture Show and a plethora of superb exhibitions including engineering in The V&A and sculpture in London and Paris. Details below.

Architecture and building

It’s an incredibly quiet month for architectural events, though the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale (to 27 November) continues apace – do check out the multiplicity of national pavilions (and a further plethora of talks) on offer, all responding to the theme chosen by Alejandro Aravena, Reporting From The Front. Look out for Turkey’s nod to Venice’s and Istanbul’s boatyards, and the Norman Foster Foundation’s prototype droneport.

Art and antiques 

It is however a great month for art events and happenings. Once a year the 100 or so galleries in Mayfair and St James open their doors to all-comers. The Browns London Art Weekend (1-3 July). With free talks, walks, and 100 exhibitions it offers a unique opportunity for art lovers to explore the capital’s great private galleries.

The Liverpool Biennal 2016 (9 July – 16 October), the 9th Liverpool Festival of Contemporary Art, brings together 42 international artists to look 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.

Founded in 1970, The Rencontres d’Arles in Arles, France (4 July-23 September, though the bulk of events happen during the opening week of 4-10 July), is a major photography art festival featuring- almost exclusively new, unshown works, and one which teaches newer festivals how to do it. Frequently held in ancient churches and buildings not open to the public, it’s worth a look for the juxtaposition of old and new alone, let alone superb new photography.

Ostrale’016 in Dresden, Germany (1 July-25 September) is a determinedly and delightfully international expo: 200 artists from around the world, including a strong African contingent. The opening night features activities, performances, happenings and concerts create a ‘dynamic adventure in the exhibition grounds’.

Moving on to art and antique fairs, Art Bodensee in Dornbirn, Austria (8-10 July) is the only summer art fair in the German-speaking calendar, offering a range of works.

Three popular UK antiques/flea markets happen on consecutive weekends: Shepton Mallet on 1-3 July, Ardingly on 19-20 July and Newbury on 29-30

July. Look out for everything from vintage fashion & jewellery to antique furniture and textiles. Last but not least Antiques For Everyone Birmingham, UK (21-24 July) is a huge fair featuring over 200 specialist dealers selling British and decorative furniture, 20th century art, jewellery, silver, ceramics, glass, pictures and kitchenalia plus vintage clothes and contemporary items. 

Interiors and design

Following on from the first impressive graduate’s fair at the end of June, New Designers, Part 2 in London (1-4 July) features architecture, interiors, furniture and product design, plus graphics and illustration. It’s a fabulous showcase for the future of design – well worth a look for anyone.

New Designers, Parts 1 and 2 (29 June-2 July and 6-9 July) in London are

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.

Trade shows are also thin on the ground this month. Vivanti, Dortmund, Germany (2-4 July) offers interior design and lifestyle products to consumers.

Of greater stature, the Manchester Furniture Show in Manchester, UK (17-19 July) features a huge collection of established and new exhibitors with dining, living and bedroom furniture as well as home accessories.

If gardening’s your thing, there are two major RHS shows this month. Don’t miss the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, in London (5-10 July) which is only beaten by Chelsea in terms of audience and prestige (though some feel that it’s better for dedicated gardeners without the Chelsea dazzle!). The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (19-20 July) is northern England’s biggest gardening event with a plethora of gardens, show features, master classes and floral design. Brand new for this year, the Young Landscape Contractor and Young Planting Designer competition adds to the already substantial platform for youth in horticulture at the show.


The summer is all about blockbusters, whether books, cinema or in the art world, and both Paris and London offer some wonderful, synergistic shows. The National Gallery asks, what art inspires artists? Painters’ Paintings takes its inspiration from works in the National Gallery Collection once owned by painters, revealing the private acquisitions of Freud, Matisse, Degas, Leighton, Watts, Lawrence, Reynolds and Van Dyck (to 23 September).

Sculpture in the City, now in its fifth year, is a free public exhibition by the City of London, featuring cutting-edge contemporary works from leading artists sited in both busy thoroughfares and quieter, green spaces. 17 artworks in 20 locations range from a seven-metre high cast iron head to a series of delicate and playful lead paper chains – are placed between iconic architectural landmarks such as the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater.

It has its counterpart in Sevres Outdoors (to 25 October) features installations and sculpture from cutting-edge Paris galleries in the Cité de la Céramique at Sèvres, Paris.

Meanwhile over at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Daniel Buren’s Observatory of Light re-envisions the buildings’s 12 sails covered in a chequerboard of coloured glass, some 3,600 in all. Developed with architect Frank Gehry himself, it is part of the institution’s commitment to innovative encounters with its architecture.

The eponymous exhibition Pierre Paulin at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (to 22 August) looks at more than the furniture of the man who exemplified 1960s design with his Mushroom and Tulip chairs among others: it also covers a career that included furniture and interior design commissions for two French presidents and the Louvre and encompassed designs ranging from floor lamps and logos to steam irons and a postage stamp.

Back in London The V&A’s Engineering Season, started in May, celebrating the ‘unsung heroes’ of design that create and shape the built world and launching with for a fabulous installation in the museum’s courtyard: inspired by nature and fabricated by robots, the Elytra Filament Pavilion explores the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making. Mind Over Matter examines the global impact of contemporary British engineers. Engineering the World presents a major retrospective of the engineering legend Ove Arup examining his concept of total design and featuring unseen archival materials for projects such as the Sydney Opera House alongside recent prototypes and digital animations by Arup. Both are supported by a packed events programme exploring some of the most advanced engineering taking place in the world today.

Last but not least, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in London opens on 23 July – a perfect opportunity to see how royalty live.