Design – it’s everywhere and impacts our lives more than we know. This concept is just one of the ideas to be discussed and explored during this year’s Sydney Design Festival. “It’s about bringing together the best of design practices and practitioners from around the world to celebrate, and examine future directions of the industry,” says the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) director and CEO Dolla Merrillees.

Between March 2 and 11, the MAAS, with associated venues throughout Sydney including the Powerhouse Museum, will host international speakers and new design exhibitions curated around the theme “Call to Action”.

The festival kicks off at the Powerhouse Museum with the exhibition Common Good. It will explore design-lead responses to social, ethical and environmental challenges, as well as taking a look at design trends in Australia and neighbouring regions.

Comedian and design enthusiast Tim Ross will be curating his first exhibition, Design Nation, also at the Powerhouse Museum. Ross’s exhibition celebrates the ingenuity of Australian design, including the Stackhat helmet and the Ford Capri. Ross will present talks on March 9 and 10.

The managing partner architect of OMA, David Gianotten – known for the design of the MPavillion in Melbourne – will deliver a keynote address on March 4. Gianotten will share insights into OMA’s architectural philosophy and practice.

Japanese designer and the mind behind the collective NOSIGNER, Eisuke Tachikawa, will talk about his passion for design solutions to social issues, while award-winning Chinese architect Zhang Ke, founder of ZAO/standardarchitecture, delves into his design process. His studio has designed large-scale works in Shanghai, Beijing and Tibet.

On a smaller scale and in rural China, architect and design researcher Joshua Bolchover is running 15 projects in villages across the country. He will discuss the power of design in not-for-profit projects.

One of The Global Future Forums top 20 disruptors of 2016, Pamm Hong, will run a discussion on how she has unified science, art and technology for her new piece Watermelon Sugar.

Freda’s in Chippendale will play host to a panel of designers and social researchers on the topic The Dangers of Empathy. The panel will discuss empathy’s role in designing solutions in sectors such as government and financial services.

There will also be a discussion on gender imbalance. Less than 10 per cent of editors on Wikipedia are female, so to try and tip the scale, there will be Hack the Canon, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at St Peters Library on the final day of the festival.

Sydney Design Festival 2018 takes place March 2 and 11 in various locations. To see more details, visit here.

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