Good design is a gateway to the world, a universal language understood around the globe. Effective design showcases the brilliance of individual creators along with the cultures and contexts in which they work. And it’s certainly worth traveling for—hence the emergence of international design weeks. Every year, amazing exhibitions of high style and exceptional craftsmanship take place in cities globally.
Here are six you won’t want to miss, along with some of the most stunning homes nearby. For true patrons, establishing a home base near these flagship events can make a one-off experience an annual pilgrimage. After all: a design enthusiast visits; an aficionado moves in.
Dubai: INDEX Dubai and Dubai Design Week
Dubai Design District, United Arab Emirates, photo courtesy of Solkafa/ Shutterstock Inc
Dubai has become synonymous with design; over the last decade, it has witnessed the rise of an avant-garde skyline whose buildings have shattered world records and won accolades. Within this architectural wonderland, the innovative Dubai Design District (d3) hosts Dubai Design Week every November. And in September, thousands of interior designers, decorators, artisans, and architects, converge on the city for INDEX Dubai.
Lewis Knollman, Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty
This spectacular penthouse, situated in the heart of downtown just across the water from d3, puts visitors at the heart of Dubai. It’s a rare unit in Burj Khalifa, the tallest freestanding structure in the world. This luxury home has a front-row seat to some of the most interesting and iconic architecture in the world.
But why fixate on the landmarks around this residence when you could be enjoying the landmark features within? Leading Dubai firm Bishop Design is responsible for the contemporary interiors, set among curving open-concept spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Stockholm: Stockholm Design Week and Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair
Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, photo courtesy of Gustav Kaiser / Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair
Nordic design is well-known around the world for its elegance and functionality, and every February, Sweden’s enchanting capital lights up the long Scandinavian winter with Stockholm Design Week and the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. Hundreds of events, exhibitions, and installations are on display, featuring work by household names as well as exciting newcomers.
Anders Elbe, Sweden Sotheby’s International Realty
A spacious loft in Östermalm is a great way to get cozy in this chilly city and take in the sights during the short days and long nights. With its edgy, sloped ceilings and exposed beams, this beautiful apartment on historic Sibyllegatan is a blank canvas—and therefore, a design buff’s dream.
Singapore: Singapore Design Week
Marina Bay Sands, photo courtesy of Ake Wa/ Shutterstock Inc
A futuristic metropolis set in the tropics, Singapore is home to some of the most striking architecture and design in the world; look no further than the famous Marina Bay Sands and the public Gardens by the Bay nearby. It’s only natural that it would be the focal point for one of the premier creative gatherings in Asia Pacific: Singapore Design Week, which typically goes for two weeks, and in its latest edition hosted over 100 events and 200,000 visitors.
Karen KOH, List Sotheby’s International Realty
Of course, many of the city’s most eye-catching design landmarks are mainstays—like this luxury condominium in District 9. The building is by the acclaimed firm Arquitectonica, and the innovative Y-shaped layout maximizes both the floorspace and windows, which overlook Singapore’s major shopping and entertainment strip on Orchard Road.
Milan: Milan Design Week and Salone del Mobile; Fiera Milano
Salone del Mobile, photo courtesy of Salone del Mobile.Milano by Alessandro Russotti
The mere mention of Milan makes most people think of fashion, with brands like Prada, Armani, Gucci and Versace headquartered in the city. But every March, it’s the interior and industrial designers who truly put on a show.
Milan Design Week is arguably the most iconic event of its kind, and its crown jewel is the Salone del Mobile furniture fair. What was once a trade show is now a confluence of epic conversations and larger-than-life ideas, with installations and demos from over 2,500 companies. In the off-season, patrons can still enjoy the largest permanent trade fair in Europe, hosted by Fiera Milano.
Ivan Imbriani, Italy Sotheby’s International Realty
To really embrace the spirit of industrial design, escape to this turn-of-the-century loft. Originally a distillery for Compari, the building has undergone recent renovations; the eclectic mix of materials—checkered tile, wooden paneling, exposed brick—makes this home a feast for the eyes and a rare collector’s item. Not to mention, 10 Corso Como, a hub of Milan culture and style, is just down the street.
New York: NYCxDesign and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair
NYCxDesign, photo courtesy of NYCxDesign
Each May, New York City becomes the center of the design world with NYCxDesign, a series of fairs, events, and celebrations that span all five of its boroughs. Of course, Manhattan is at the heart of the festivities, and the ICFF at the Javits Center has been an institution of luxury style for over three decades.
Steve Sallion, Warren Lewis Sotheby’s International Realty
Manhattan may be in the thick of the action—but after several consecutive days of events, Midtown can be exhausting.This converted Brooklyn condominium is a perfect oasis for design aficionados looking to take a breather: originally constructed in 1927, it once served as the printing facility for theNew York Daily News, but now offers 4,000 square feet of outdoor living space, a two-tiered private garden, and an open-concept interior that gives the owner complete creative license.
São Paulo: DW! São Paulo Design Weekend
DW! São Paulo Design Weekend Installation, photo courtesy of DW! São Paulo Design Weekend
São Paulo has always known how to put on a show, and DW! São Paulo Design Weekend is no exception. Though it’s younger and less established than its counterparts in Milan and New York, DW! is known for its wide selection of featured events, and is the largest design festival in Latin America.
Bossa Nova Sotheby’s International Realty
For a home away from home in South America’s design capital, it’s difficult to do better than this apartment. Not only does the building bear the signature of modern design legend Daniel Libeskind, but the interiors have been meticulously appointed by noted Brazilian decorator Dado Castello Branco. To top it off, this retreat among the treetops comes with furniture from Minotti, along with the latest home automation systems.
Design weeks invite you to enjoy an ephemeral experience—a fleeting snapshot of world-class style that lasts for just a few days. But you can turn a weekend into a lasting work of art: whether you’re looking for a blank canvas to style, or a turnkey showroom featuring the work of today’s top artisans, there are apartments waiting for you the world over. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find one just around the corner from your favorite festival of contemporary design.
Take inspiration from the world’s top design destinations, and source your own home with remarkable details.