San Francisco Design Week (SFDW) is the largest and oldest design festival in the Bay Area which spans Silicon Valley/South Bay, the City of San Francisco, Oakland/East Bay, Marin and beyond. For 17 years the festival brings together thousands of designers, trade professionals, non-profits, entrepreneurs and business leaders for a week-long series of events, lectures, panel discussions, and open studios. Please read our FAQ below before applying.
Community Host FAQ
What are the dates of San Francisco Design Week 2023?
SFDW will take place Tuesday, June 6 through Sunday, June 11th, 2023
SFDW Official Party will take place Tuesday, June 6th.
What is the goal of SFDW?
To raise public awareness of the impact design has on innovation and our collective future while exploring emerging disciplines and technology driving design in San Francisco and around the world. Each year we create a public forum where members of the public, designers and adjacent industries can engage in a discussion and exhibitions about design and its role in our ever-evolving world.
Who organizes SFDW?
SFDW is organized by Design Bay Area, a newly formed organization with a focus on community which acquired San Francisco Design Week in 2022 along with the entire team. We collaborate with the local business community (boutique studios, retail, corporations), design orgs such as IDSA, the Center for Architecture and AIA SF, SFFAMA, SEGD, SDN, IXDA, AIGA SF, local consulates, design universities, neighborhood associations and museums.
Who gets involved?
SFDW represents a a diverse and vibrant industry across many design disciplines. Each year the list of participants grows to include more design studios, brands, in-house design teams, galleries and art organizations, local retail and restaurants.
What type of events take place?
The annual festival program contains in person and virtual events including workshops, exhibition, panels, and open studios.
I’m not a designer, but I want to involve my business or organization. Is there a way for me to do that?
ABSOLUTELY, Consider submitting your business or organization to our Design Site Page or Design Resource Directory.
For our 2023 Festival we have a few options. Please note our community has told us they are eager to attend in person events! However, to remain accessible to our national and international audience who might not be able to join us in person, we will be offering a limited number of virtual events:
- Community Event In Person (includes Studio Tours)
- Community Event Virtual
- Community Event Virtual Pre-recorded On-Demand (no live Q+A)
If you would like to host a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual formats, please add that note into your application. A member of our team will reach out to confirm details.
Host your own Community Event In Person or Virtual
Hosting an event is an opportunity for you to create your own original programming which can include, but is not limited to, a workshop, panel discussion, or a speaker. The most well-attended events tend to engage a topic that provides valuable takeaways or includes well-known speakers. Priority will be given to unique topics which are top of mind to designers and are not already being covered currently by other organizations.
Virtual Events will be hosted on different platforms depending on your event’s needs. SFDW will determine which platform to use and our team will offer basic training so your event runs smoothly.
Types of Events we accept:
- In Person Events Panel discussions, Conversations/Fireside Chats, Presentations, Workshops, Brand Activations, Product Launches, Open Studio Tours, or Networking/Happy Hour. Hosts have the option to record their event for SFDW On – Demand Catalog
- Virtual Events Panel discussions, Conversations/Fireside Chats or presentations, Workshops, Internationally Produced Events, Podcasts (accepted, if created for SF Design Week). Replay of virtual event will be available.
Don’t see something on our list? Feel free to propose something new! Bonus points for creating something innovative and original for attendees!
Replay of Virtual Events
Replay will be available to watch within 72 hours after the event is over on the SFDW platform for 30 days. Some virtual events like workshops will not be available for replay or on-demand for attendees.
San Francisco Design Week makes no guarantee online events will be recorded. Sometimes tech fails, and things happen so our team might not be able to record a video for you. Video recordings are not guaranteed or included in application fees.
Apply to Host an Event
What is the deadline to apply to host?
Monday, May 15th, 2022
What dates can I host an event?
Events can be held the following:
- Tuesday, June 6: Morning, afternoon, evening (8:00 am – 4:00 pm)*
- Wednesday, June 7: Morning, afternoon, evening (8:00 am – 9:00 pm)
- Thursday, June 8: Morning, afternoon, evening (8:00 am – 9:00 pm)
- Friday, June 9: Morning, afternoon and evening (8:00 am – 9:00 PM)
- Saturday, June 10th – In person events only (9:00 am – 9:00 PM)
- Sunday, June 11th – In person events only (9:00 am – 9:00 PM)
*We are hosting a community gathering the evening of June 6th
Can I apply to host more than one event?
Absolutely! Think carefully in regards to how much extra time and resources will be needed to produce an event and whether you’re shooting for quality over quantity. Please submit a new application for each event you plan to host. Due to the current economy, we cannot offer discounts for hosting multiple events.
What information do I need to start my application?
Make sure that you have everything you need before you fill out the submission form. We ask that you only submit complete events as the information will be used to populate your final event listing. Changes to your listing after submission may incur an Editing Fee
What if I still have details to work out before finishing the application by the application deadline?
The May 15th deadline is crucial to giving our team enough time to finalize event details with our Community Hosts, create event ticketing pages and properly promote events, as well as give attendees enough time to sign up and plan their week. If you’re struggling to finalize your event, contact us as soon as possible.
I have a very specific preferred date & time, but I haven’t finalized my event details. Should I submit an application anyway?
Partially submitted events will not be accepted. Please only submit complete events.
Events with a clear, direct focus tend to be the most successful as attendees can immediately tell what they are on the event calendar when they’re visually scanning offerings. Long titles will get cut off on the SFDW site, so avoid being too descriptive. Abstract titles are clever, but have less attendance!
Like your event title, your event description should make it clear what attendees will experience at your event, and what they’ll get out of attending. Don’t Bury the Lead and make sure attendees know what your event is about in the first few sentences.
Keep it simple. No text and no logos in the main event image, and we really mean it. Our site is responsive and the results look pretty bad and is a reflection on your brand and our festival. Your main event image is not an advertisement so don’t include info about the date, time, speaker names. Example: If your event topic is interior design, use an image of a great interior or the main designer being featured. If your event is a bit more abstract, simple colors and patterns or illustrations work really well. Remember, SFDW is for designers, so a strong, well-designed image is important.
Preferred Dates and Times
Each year SFDW is made up of hundreds of events throughout the week. We do our best to give event hosts their preferred date and time, but sometimes we have to make adjustments based on the overall curation of the week.
A few things to keep in mind when thinking about your preferred event dates and times:
- Wednesday and Thursday will have the most events overlapping, so your event could get lost in the shuffle
- If you’re worried about competing with a ton of events, then consider avoiding Wednesday and Thursday evening. You can also host an event earlier in the evening so that attendees can attend multiple events by stacking them. For example, if you host an event at 4:30 pm and end at 5:30 pm, attendees can still make it to another event that begin at 6:30pm. Help us help attendees get the most out of the festival!
- Mornings are underutilized and a great way to stand out from the evening events, and can be as simple as hosting coffee with your design team. We also welcome more structured events earlier in the day such as workshops and lectures.
- We recommend that you submit a few dates and times so that we can make sure your event isn’t scheduled against another event of a similar nature.
Length of Event
We recommend creating a sample schedule to determine the length of your event. For example, if you’re holding a panel discussion, consider both the check-in process, as well as discussion afterward and factor both into the total length of time of your event. If you want to go the extra mile, include the schedule in your event description.
- For virtually hosted events, keep in mind screen fatigue. Limit virtual events to one hour unless it is a workshop.
Does SFDW cover the costs of production for my event, including supplies, food, drinks, and snacks?
No. Each Community Host is responsible for their own expenses. If providing such items is a financial burden, we encourage you to find donations from your clients, partners or sponsors whenever possible.
Does SFDW provide volunteers for my event?
You will be responsible for finding your own volunteers. We can send out a call for volunteers and send them your way prior to the festival, but you would be responsible for interviewing and managing your volunteers.
Can I charge a ticket fee for my event?
Unfortunately no. For the best user experience, San Francisco Design Week charges a fee for a One-Pass which allows attendees to seamlessly register for events all at once, and easily manage their schedules. Proceeds from One Pass revenue covers the hard costs of producing this event as a nonprofit 501c3.
Can I apply to host an event if my venue isn’t confirmed yet?
We ask that you only apply once your venue has been confirmed. Host at your studio, reach out to a colleague to see if your team can utilize one of their spaces, or rent a venue.
What if I can provide a venue, but I don’t plan to host an event?
If you are offering your venue as a resource, please contact us. The events team can make the introduction if a host has an event, but no venue. SFDW is not responsible for negotiating terms between a potential host and a venue.
Please indicate the actual number of attendees you can host. We will add a percentage of seats to your total due to drop off rates.
Application Fees for Community Hosts
Fee to host an event:
- Non profit: $250
- For Profit: $389
- Waiver: Reserved for those experiencing financial hardships: Submit an application fee waiver form
Why do I have to pay a fee and what does it cover?
The fees allow us to support your event by employing an administrative team, Public Relations agency to promote your event, tech support for your virtual programming and additional support as needed. Thank you for your support! As a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we rely on registration fees, sponsorship, donations and the goodness of others to produce SFDW.
I want to support SFDW as an official Sponsor. How do I do that?
If you’re interested in being an official sponsor of SFDW, please fill out the sponsorship form and we will reach out with more details soon!
I represent a non-profit, do I still have to pay a fee?
Registration fees are reduced for registered nonprofit organizations not individuals. When filling out the application form, simply select nonprofit as the type of organization and enter your EIN number.
San Francisco Design Week aims to showcase innovative brands, design teams and orgs without having an application fee ever be a roadblock for participation. We want to support and encourage underserved communities to apply and be recognized on our platform. If you have any suggestions on how we might better accomplish this please contact us.
Please fill out the Event Proposal Fee Waiver form.
I don’t represent a non-profit, but I can’t afford the registration fee. Can I still participate?
We want everyone to be able to participate in SFDW regardless of their economic footing. Thanks to our sponsors, we have a few spots reserved for those experiencing financial hardship, please fill out this application.
Is the application fee refundable?
Application fees are non-refundable once an application is accepted. If your application is not accepted, your application fee will be refunded minus $35 processing fee.
We understand that some changes to your event are out of your control, however changes to an event that has already been submitted and added to our calendar will incur an editing fee, starting at $75 and additional charges for major edits.
Ticketing and Registration
Who manages ticketing and registration?
SFDW handles ticketing for you through one consolidated platform so that the ticketing and registration process is consistent and streamlined for attendees. Each host will be given access to their event registrations and attendee information twice: 48 hrs and 24 hrs prior to the event. We will also communicate with you throughout the registration process if your events registration is low and help you to promote even more to fill seats. Any communication from hosts to attendees will be managed through SFDW until we share your registration, at which point you will have your attendees registration details.
Who collects ticket sales?
SFDW, a non-profit 501c3, requires attendees to purchase an all-access pass for the festival excludes workshops/special events (contact our team for more details) and the proceeds go to cover hard costs for producing the event and is considered a donation. We’ve had a tough time surviving throughout the pandemic so we appreciate your contribution so that we can continue hosting this event for the community. Your studio name will be added to our Community Partner page for extra promotion of your brand and as a resource for Bay Area design. If your organization is hosting a workshop which requires a higher ticket price to pay the facilitator, please contact us.
How can I be sure that I will have attendees?
Live events tend to sell out quickly. Once your event is live, share the event to your network and promote on social media. We will also be promoting your event and monitoring ticket sales. We will notify you if your registration is low and needs a little extra marketing (which we can help with). We will also add extra tickets to your event to “oversell” in order to make sure that seats are filled. When filling out the host application, include your target amount of attendees or the limit your space can hold. We will calculate available tickets based on historical no-show rates.
Promotion, Marketing and PR
What can I do to promote my event?
Promote your SFDW presence in advance via social media. Tweet about the date of your event as soon as this information is available. Make a post about your SFDW participation in your blog or on your Facebook page and tag us to re-share. Create an Instagram competition with free giveaways to increase the number of followers. Send out an email blast and invite your studio’s friends, clients, colleagues to join or help promote and spread awareness.
How does SFDW promote my event?
PR: San Francisco Design Week enlists a public relations agency to highlight and feature some of the most interesting Community Host events. We cover the costs of our PR agency, but you should still consider working with your own in-house team or PR agency to promote your event as well.
Calendar, Digital Newsletters and Social Media: We’ll publish each approved Community event to our official event calendar, utilize our email list to market your event as well as our social media channels. While you’re promoting your event on socials, please tag us so we can re-post yours! Download our brand and theme templates to create your own digital newsletters and social media to get the word out!
Spread the word about SFDW
To actively join the conversation and help us promote your brand, we encourage you to use SFDW’s handles, hashtags, and logo in your communication on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
Twitter Handle: @SFdesignweek @designbayarea
Instagram: @SFdesignweek @design.bayarea
Hashtag: #SFDW #designbayarea
Read through all the FAQs but still have questions?
Contact us by filling out this form
We can answer your questions via email or schedule a time to speak to your team by phone or video! We’re here for you!