Porto Design Biennale 2023 puts out an open call for projects on the theme of ‘Being Water’

Hoping to catalyse conversation and action around the huge environmental issues we currently face, the upcoming biennale will take a deep dive into our most important resource.

5 June 2023


The third edition of the Porto Design Biennale, which opens later this year, promises to be as “instigating and challenging” as its two previous instalments. Hosted between the cities of Porto and Matosinhos in Portugal, the event will bring together a global selection of voices around a single, timely theme, with the aim of asking questions and providing answers to some of the most pressing issues of our time.

This edition is curated by renowned Portuguese designer Fernando Brízio, who has put together an exciting programme of exhibitions, conferences, workshops and publications, each revolving around the theme of Being Water: How we flow together and shape each other. Chosen for its crucial role in the creation and support of life on Earth, this fundamental material will be the focus for the 2023 biennale, with hundreds of artists and designers interpreting the theme through their unique and varied projects.

In the run up to the event, the organisers esad—idea (the R&D unit of ESAD – College of Arts and Design) has put out an open call for work to be submitted for a parallel programme that will have a multidisciplinary jury. This programme is guided by the main theme of the biennale and will be composed of projects sent in by a global selection of creatives. Entrants are being asked to propose work that will explore “the visible and invisible realms, the organic and inorganic aspects, and the ephemeral spectra of water through six distinct dimensions.”


Diver Osaka #386, 1987, © António Júlio Duarte

There are six dimensions (or sub-themes), which include Dynamic Landscapes: Margins that Dance, Borders that Don't Exist, which looks at how the constant global flux of land to water ratios due to climate change affects the demarcation of countries and territories; Magic Reality: Living with the Un/Unknown, which looks at the seemingly magical qualities of water and how it differs to other substances in the way it behaves and constantly changes state; and Flying Rivers: Rethinking the Sources, Uses and Representations of Water, which looks at how we perceive water and the role it plays, as well as the dire need for “water literacy” and a better understanding of how we should acquire, use and talk about this all-important substance.

The proposed projects can take the form of debates or colloquiums, workshops or trainings, exhibitions or installations, publications or editions, interventions or events, and collaborations or coproductions. The jury that selects the winning proposals are looking for ideas that offer critical interpretations of the theme, are experimental and original in their format, and have the capacity to reach broader audiences.

A budget of €60,000 has been allocated for the winners, with grants available for full or partial implementation of the work. In total, up to 10 projects will be selected based on their nature, relevance and scale, and the budget will be divided up among these. Funding levels have been set at €9,000, €6,000 and €3,000, depending on the scope and cost of the project.

Entrants for the open call must submit a name, date(s) and location for their proposed project, as well as an outline of its objective, relevance to the Porto Design Biennale 2023 theme, and the budget and timeline needed for its completion. The deadline for submission is June 26, 2023.

To submit your project, you can visit this portal, and head over to the Porto Design Biennale 2023 website for more information.



Lifeboat on Douro, Casa-Estúdio Carlos Relvas, Município da Golegã


Vasco Célio - Stills


Robot UX-1Neo from the UNEXUP project developed by INESC TEC

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Porto Design Biennale

Porto Design Biennale is an event that has been fostering debate, welcoming concerns and multiple perspectives, as well as stimulating interest in design, driving new discourses and practices that increase the discipline's prospective capacity to outline innovative solutions to collective problems.

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Robot UX-1Neo from the UNEXUP project by INESC TEC

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