30+ Design Conferences to attend in 2019

An incomplete guide to the best events for designers and creatives who want to get inspired, meet new people and give a damn about their craft.

Arianna Orland
11 min readDec 13, 2018

As a designer of 20 years, attending events and conferences has been a vitally important aspect of my practice. Personally, I love nothing more than coming home afterwards with a notebook filled with new ideas, people to reach out to and genuine optimism for the kind of work we do. So, just before the beginning of a New Year, I collect all the art events, the design events and the conferences on my radar in one place. From international art fairs to top-tier conferences on creativity, my list is expansive and — until this point — personal. Resources, though, are meant to be shared, especially those that support inspiration and innovation. Here you’ll find 30 creative events of 2019 that are worth attending.

1. FOG Art and Design

Date: January 16–20, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

Celebrating today’s most significant creatives and leading contributors to the worlds of design and visual arts, the fair assembles 45 leading international galleries, prominent 20th-century and contemporary design dealers and a weekend of exciting programming.

More info: https://fogfair.com/

2. In/Visible Talks 2019

Date: January 17–18, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

In/Visible Talks is a conference for creative professionals that celebrates the art of design. There’s no case studies here, this is the real deal about how creative work gets done. The speaker line up includes Ivy Ross, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Randy Hunt and more. This year they’ve also added a second day of workshops, a rooftop happy hour and several cultural partnerships that will get you free tickets to some of the local museums.

More info: https://invisibletalks.com/conference/

3. IxDA Interaction 19

Date: February 3-8, 2019
Location: Seattle, WA

Interaction 19 is a week of design events for interaction designers from around the world including a 3-day conference, an education summit a local leaders retreat, a day of workshops, and a 4-day student design charette. Their speaker line up includes Ayse Birsel, Liz Jackson, and John Maeda. And if you haven’t seen their playful conference branding it’s worth a look on its own.

More info: https://interaction19.ixda.org/

4. Digital Thinkers Conference

Date: February 13-15, 2019
Location: Amsterdam

This multi-day event caters to designers, developers and digital dreamers and includes a 2- day conference, a day of workshops and design competition. The programming is brought to you by the team behind Awwwards, the most visited digital design awards platform in the world. Every year they hold conferences in iconic cities across the globe including New York, Amsterdam, Paris, London and Los Angeles. Next up after Amsterdam is San Francisco.

More info: https://conference.awwwards.com/amsterdam

5. Design Indaba

Date: February 27-March 3, 2019
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Known for hosting the best creative conference in the world, the Design Indaba Festival is an annual celebration of design and creativity, showcasing the hottest and most relevant talents across the creative sectors. It’s all about how creativity is creating a better world and they bring to the stage the best of the best who are doing just that. The speaker line up includes creative luminaries like Alice Rawsthorn, Ane Crabtree and more.

More info: http://www.designindaba.com/conference

6. What Design Can Do

Date: March 4-6, 2019
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Their annual conference heads to Mexico City, in collaboration with the Reinventing Mexico Foundation, with the aim to bring more tech and social innovation to Mexico.What Design Can Do is the perfect place for designers and creatives to meet businesses, industries, NGO’s and governments who aim to start using design innovation. In workshops, speed dates, design jams and masterclasses attendees are challenged to actively participate.

More info: https://www.whatdesigncando.com/

7. The Armory Show

Date: March 7-10, 2019
Location: New York, NY

The Armory Show is New York City’s premier art fair and a leading cultural destination for discovering and collecting the world’s most important 20th- and 21st-century art. Staged on Piers 92 & 94, The Armory Show features presentations by leading international galleries, innovative artist commissions and dynamic public programs. Since its founding in 1994, The Armory Show has served as a nexus for the art world, inspiring dialogue, discovery and patronage in the visual arts. The NYC art world comes alive at this annual event. There are several satellite art fairs at the same time all worth checking out.

More info:https://www.thearmoryshow.com/

8. AIGA National Conference

Date: April 4th-6th, 2019
Location: Pasadena, CA

Roman Mars, creator and host of the popular design podcast 99% Invisible, returns to host general sessions on the mainstage. Expect Roman to facilitate insightful conversations with the speakers after their presentations and to offer his trademark thought-provoking commentary. Plan on spending the morning hours attending your choice of Symposia. Afternoons will entail everyone gathering to listen to a diversified group of artists, designers and more speak on the main stage. You won’t want to miss AIGA’s signature design competition, Command X, and remember to take some time to network at the design fair.

More info: https://designconference.aiga.org/#!/

9. Design Week Portland

Date: April 6–13, 2019
Location: Portland, OR

Design Week Portland is a week-long, city-wide series of programs exploring the process, craft, and practice of design across all disciplines. Their mission is to increase appreciation and awareness about design and its far-reaching effects on matters of cultural and social relevance, including community development, education systems, and the economy. The full week schedule will debut in February on their website.

More info: https://www.designweekportland.com/

10. Salone del Mobile. Milano

Date: April 9–14, 2019
Location: Milan, Italy

The Salone Internazionale del Mobile was founded in 1961 as a vehicle for promoting Italian furniture and furnishings exports and soon became the most keenly awaited event in the world of furniture. To give you an idea of the scale last year they saw 435,065 attendees, in 6 days, from 188 different countries.

More info: https://www.salonemilano.it/en/

11. Smashing Conference SF

Date: April 16–17, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

For the fifth SmashingConf San Francisco, they folks behind Smashing Magazine will explore how to improve accessibility and front-end workflow, refactoring, security, interface design patterns, CSS Grid techniques, performance, and how to write better JavaScript. Plus there will be a bunch of hands-on workshops on design, front-end and UX.

More info: https://smashingconf.com/sf-2019/

12. Frontiers a Conference by Slack

Date: April 23–25, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

Frontiers 2019 is a global event about the future of teamwork. They’ll explore the shifts changing the modern landscape of work and the attributes that determine organizational success. Hear firsthand insights from industry experts representing leadership, innovation, and creativity, and connect with the ecosystem of Slack experts.

More info: https://slackfrontiers.com/2019

13. OFFF Barcelona

Date: April 25–27, 2019
Location: Barcelona, Spain

OFFF is a three-day journey of conferences, workshops, activities and performances. Founded at the beginning of the 21st century, OFFF was born as a conference event. Today, OFFF has ascended to the most influential creativity Festival to attend hosting artists and designers from all over the world. It is a way of understanding creativity. Always evolving and transforming.

More info: https://offf.barcelona/

14. How Design Live

Date: May 7–10, 2019
Location: Chicago, IL

The How Design Live conference boasts up to 100 educational sessions and professionals from all over the world; making for great networking possibilities. Speakers this year include the indomitable Debbie Millman and the incredible illustrator Lisa Congdon.

More info: https://www.howdesignlive.com/#

15. 99u Conference

Date: May 8–10, 2019
Location: New York, NY

Creativity is human. It’s global. It’s technology-agnostic. It doesn’t discriminate. From people working at the bleeding edge of their fields to others bringing more humanity to technology and industry, the program for the 11th Annual 99U Conference is a call to action for creatives to take control of our tomorrow. In it, they will seek to recapture the feeling of optimism, not fear, for the future. Because in the hands of creatives, the future is bright.

More info: https://conference.99u.com/

16. Pictoplasma

Date: May 8–12, 2019
Location: Berlin, Germany

Pictoplasma is the world’s leading platform for contemporary character design and art. The project pushes forward interdisciplinary discussion, development and promotion of a new breed of visual vocabulary — from illustration to animation, game to interactive design, urban to graphic arts. Their annual event draws international illustrators, filmmakers, artists and other creative professionals for a conversation focused on trailblazing the face of TOMORROW’S VISUAL CULTURE.

More info: https://conference.pictoplasma.com/

17. The Design Conference

Date: May 29–June 1, 2019
Location: Brisbane, Australia

The Design Conference will discuss more than the future direction of design — but what design means in the hearts and minds of the worlds favorite creative leaders. By being open and vulnerable, we engineer an experience which is designed to leave you feeling moved, motivated and connected. The three-day event takes place at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

More info: https://www.thedesignconference.com.au/

18. D&AD Festival

Date: May 21–23, 2019
Location: London, England

Where craft, creativity, and culture collide. The D&AD festival is an event focused on creative, advertising, and design. The conference boasts over 4,000 people in attendance, 250+ judges, 2,000+ exhibited works, and over 100 speakers. The three-day event is held at the iconic London venue The Old Truman Brewery.

More info: https://www.dandad.org/en/d-ad-creative-advertising-design-festival/

19. C2 Conference

Date: May 22–24, 2019
Location: Montréal, Canada

The 2019 conference asks “How will you shape tomorrow?”. We’re entering a whole new era in 2019. Get ready to discover the work of innovators, connect with fellow leaders and risk-takers, experience cutting-edge design and technology, and get out of your comfort zone. C2 Montréal 2019 programming consists of 5 key content pillars: Shifting perspectives, Living in ecosystems, Cultivating innovation, Moving audiences, and The next frontiers.

More info: https://www.c2montreal.com/news/theme-2019-tomorrow/

20. Eyeo

Date: June 3–6, 2019
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Eyeo brings together a community of people drawn to the intersection of art, data and creative technology. The event includes 4 days of enthralling talks, unique workshops and thought-provoking interactions lead by passionate thinkers and makers.

More info: http://eyeofestival.com/

21. By Design Conference

Date: June 8, 2019
Location: Bratislava, Slovakia

By Design is a conference about design and business, based in Bratislava, Slovakia. Speakers at the 2019 event include Eddie Opara; Creative Director of Pentagram New York, and Gail Bichler; Design Director of The New York Times Magazine.

More info: https://bydesignconf.com/

22. Typographics Conference

Date: June 12–14, 2019
Location: New York, NY

This 2-day conference offers talks by luminaries in the fields of design where typography is central including publication design, corporate identity, user interface, motion graphics, book design, and more and is the highlight the Typographics Festival. On Saturday, there’s also a book fair.

More info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/typographics-conference-tickets-52875187108

23. Leading Design Conference

Date: June 19–20, 2019
Location: New York, NY

Leading Design is a conference for people leading design teams, overseeing design direction, or instilling a culture of design within their organizations. Listen to leaders from Lyft, Monzo, Pinterest, Google, Facebook, and other design-led companies discuss the challenges of managing design, and becoming a better design leader. After 3 years spent in London, the Leading Design Conference has come to New York and will be held at the Guggenheim Museum.

More info: https://2019.leadingdesignconf.com/newyork

24. LA Design Festival

Date: June 20–23
Location: Los Angeles, CA

The LA Design Festival honors our city’s rich design culture and celebrates our status as a global design capital. Our definition of design is purposely broad to ensure that our festival is reflective of LA’s diversity and talent. The Festival is the only citywide festival of its kind, featuring events throughout LA. From architecture and interiors to graphic, industrial, fashion, set, costume, and experiential design, the LA Design Festival showcases the best of the local design scene as well as some exciting national and international voices.

More info: https://www.ladesignfestival.org/

25. SF Design Week

Date: June 20–28, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

SFDW is an essential week-long city-wide festival that showcases the unique intersection of ideas, design, business & entrepreneurism that makes the Bay Area the birthplace of the future. Through studio tours and events, SFDW celebrates this spirit of newness by providing unique access to exhibitions and conversations with the designers who are shaping the future — from architecture to fashion, product design to digital services, and everything in between.

More info: https://sfdesignweek.org/

26. TypeCon

Date: August 28 - September 1, 2019
Location: Minneapolis, MN

The Society of Typographic Aficionados is a community dedicated to supporting and advancing the typographic arts and design education. Their annual conference makes its way to Minneapolis this year for an action packed week of all things type. Chat with influential industry experts, learn new techniques in exclusive workshops taught by seasoned creative professionals, and find inspiration in the stories of TypeCon speakers from around the world. All while you explore one of the most artistic and progressive cities in the Midwest.

More info: http://www.typecon.com/

27. Reasons To

Date: September TBD, 2019
Location: Brighton, UK

Reasons.to is the award-winning international conference with a festival vibe. Held annually in Brighton UK, the first week of every September. Each year the very best international creative and developer speakers take to the stage to inform, inspire, entertain, thrill and educate designers and coders that attend from all over the world.

More info: https://reasons.to/

28. Circles Conference

Date: September 18–20, 2019
Location: Fort Worth, TX

Circles Conference is a three-day design and development bringing together designers and makers from around the globe. Learning from transformative thinkers and connecting with like-minded innovators, Circles provides a space where you’ll be challenged to push yourself in the creative process while drawing inspiration from those thriving in the industry.

More info: https://www.circlesconference.com/

29. Grace Hopper Celebration

Date: October 2–4, 2019
Location: Orlando, FL

Grace Hopper is a “celebration for women technologists, by women technologists.” The Grace Hopper community aims to encourage women to work towards careers in computer science. The Abie Awards to are also a key part of the festivities and celebrate women’s achievements in technology.

More info: https://ghc.anitab.org/

30. Brand New Conference 2019

Date: October 17–18
Location: Las Vegas, NV

The Brand New Conference is a two-day event organized by UnderConsideration, focusing on the practice of corporate and brand
identity — a direct extension of the popular blog, Brand New. The conference consists of eight sessions each day offering a broad range of points of view with speakers from around the world practicing in different environments, from global consultancies, to in-house groups, to small firms.

More info: https://underconsideration.com/brandnewconference/

31. An Event Apart SF

Date: December 10–12, 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA

The web design conference for UX & front-end experts. Three days of design, code, and content for interaction designers and developers. Packed with tips, techniques, and insights into the future from industry shakers and shapers. They have several events during the year in cities all over the United States including Seattle, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco.

More info: http://aneventapart.com/event/san-francisco-2018

32. Adobe MAX

Date: November 4–6, 2019
Location: Los Angeles, CA

MAX is the annual gathering of more than 14,000 graphic, web, and multi-disciplinary designers; creative and art directors; film, video, and motion graphics pros; photographers; and creative leaders. Brought to you by the folks behind the software we all know and love, this event is top notch.

More info: https://max.adobe.com/

33. Clarity Conference

Date: December TBD, 2019
Location: New York, NY

Clarity is the first conference fully dedicated to design systems (which includes style guides, pattern libraries, CSS frameworks, and design operations). While the focus is on design systems, past sessions have also included related topics like accessibility, motion design, and performance.

More info: https://www.clarityconf.com/

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have other events you want to add, get in touch or say something in the comments.

Arianna Orland is the creative director, advisor, and artist at Arianna Orland and Paper Jam Press. Her most recent project, In/Visible Talks, is a design conference about the creative process. Co-founded with Dava Guthmiller of Noise13, In/Visible Talks aims to bring people together through conversation about the behind the scenes of design. The conference will take place in San Francisco on January 17, 2019. For information, visit: In/Visible Talks.com



Arianna Orland

Designer, Artist, & Educator. Lover of letterforms. Maker of experiences. Founder @paperjampress. Co-Founder @invisibletalks. Find me online @ariannaorland.