Clear Your Calendar, Again

Here are the major design events that have moved to 2021

Tokyo's new National Stadium opened last December and replaced its older, 56-year-old arena of the same name. (Rendering courtesy Kengo Kuma Architects)

When AN first compiled our list of events, fairs, and shows that had been postponed at the end of February due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the situation on the ground was very different than at the time of writing. With much of the world practicing social distancing or under orders not to leave the house, and the possibility of a protracted battle to contain the disease’s spread looming, some of the world’s largest design events have now rescheduled even further out and will take place next year.

Below is just a selection of what’s been rescheduled to 2021; we’ll update this list as more information becomes available.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Although much fanfare was made over the eight new venues, including Kengo Kuma’s timber Olympic Stadium, originally slated to host activities throughout the summer games, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will now take place in summer of 2021. The regular games will now be held from July 23, 2021, through August 8. Similarly, the Paralympics will now take place from August 24, 2021, through September 5. As it’s been noted, this leaves only six months between the end of the summer games and the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 4, 2022.

View of the Kengo Kuma-designed National Stadium

Kengo Kuma’s completed National Stadium in Tokyo. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The Tokyo Olympics have already radically changed the city, and the reorganization went far beyond the construction of new stadiums. As Atelier Bow Wow documented at Manhattan’s Japan Society last year in Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020, the capital flowing into the city primed it for a mass redevelopment, much as it did during the 1964 Summer Olympics. Everything from housing to transportation has been affected, but for international travelers, it may be quite some time before you can see that shift firsthand.



Salone del Mobile.Milano

Salone del Mobile in Milan—the world’s largest furniture trade show—was originally pushed from April 2020 to June, but last week news broke that the show will take place in April of 2021 instead. Citing “medium-term uncertainties” at a time when Milan is still under lockdown (although Italy’s weekly death toll is reportedly dropping due to the strict distancing measures imposed by the government), Salone’s organizers emphasized that a 2021 show would be extra special, given that it would be the 60th anniversary. The show will now overlap with several other trade festivals, and, in a press statement, organizers said that they hoped this confluence would jumpstart Milan’s economy:

“This single, great sector-wide trade fair will represent a fresh opportunity to pull together to revitalise our businesses, the entire supply chain that works in synergy with the Salone, and Milan.”

Expo 2020 Dubai

While the much-hyped Expo 2020 Dubai, a worldwide showcase for innovative design, is still technically scheduled to open on October 20, 2020, that may soon change. Three days ago, the festival’s organizers gathered for a conference call and recommended that the expo be delayed for a year.

“The UAE and Expo 2020 Dubai have listened. And in the spirit of solidarity and unity, we supported the proposal to explore a one-year postponement at today’s Steering Committee meeting,” said Reem al-Hashimy, director general for Expo 2020 Dubai. According to Aljazeera, the United Arab Emirates has already spent upwards of $8 billion on infrastructure projects related to the expo, but with international travel currently locked down, it’s looking increasingly unlikely the event can proceed as planned. Elements of the show have already been partially installed, such as Asif Khan’s 70-foot-tall trio of entrance gateways.

Photo of a large, barn-shaped freestanding lattice for Expo 2020

The 70-foot-tall structures will welcome visitors to the expo’s three districts. (Hélène Binet/Courtesy Expo 2020)

The final decision of whether to postpone or not will come in June, at the behest of Paris’s Bureau International des Expositions, who administers the international expo.

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