Not for nothing.
Design for








FILL IN THE BLANK Design for (what?)

Nashville Design Week celebrates the convergence of people, places, and ideas, amplifying the creativity that thrives within our community. While the events are held over the course of one week, the impact creates a ripple effect that we all feel in our city whether we can name it or not.

That’s because design can be a powerful tool that shapes our environment, influences our experiences, and sparks connections. Design can create innovative solutions, disrupt the status-quo, or lighten the load. It’s meant to overcome challenges, satisfy a brief, or to simply surprise and delight.

In all its various forms, design is a purpose-driven practice with a ripple effect. No matter how light or lofty, how practical or pretentious – it’s not for nothing.

This year, we are calling on our community to fill in the blank “Design for ____” in order to deepen the conversation around the meaningful and purpose-driven nature of design. Why the heck do we do it? If not for nothing, design for what?

As always, we’re looking for thoughtful, well-researched proposals that will resonate with this concept, support the mission of Nashville Design Week, and engage our audience of designers, artists, and anyone interested in design.

Nashville Design Week
Design for (Our City)
Oct 30 - Nov 03, 2023


To be a part of the conversation that strengthens and unifies the vibrant design community in Nashville. To connect with others of like mind. To amplify new and innovative ideas, methodologies, or relevant and timely conversations. This community would love to engage with what you’re thinking about, how current events shape the design approach and solutions to problems, and what topics bring about inspiration and happiness?

Anyone in the creative community in Nashville. We are seeking event submissions representing industries such as, but not limited to: Animation Design, Architecture, Arts & Crafts, Culinary Arts & Design, Digital Design, Education, Environmental Design, Experiential Design, Fashion, Film, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Design, Interaction Design, Landscape Architecture, Manufacturing, Music, Photography, Product Design, Urban Design, User Experience, Visual Arts, Writing & Design Criticism, and Design Enthusiasts.

Events can take the shape of many formats. Past programs have included: panel discussions, building, site or maker space tours, hands on workshops, lectures, gallery shows, podcasts, film screenings, and more. The only limit is your imagination.

Please review the application form to make sure you have all of the information ready. The more information you can provide, the better our content curation team can assess the proposal for viability. The application form must be filled out and submitted in one session; you can not save information and return at a later date. We recommend compiling your information in a separate document and then cutting and pasting once you have all of your details compiled.

Prior to submission, we highly suggest having potential speakers, venues, and other partners identified, engaged and included in your submission. We understand that that is subject to change, but it helps you paint the full picture of the event and gives us the ability to assess the viability of the proposal. We highly suggest engaging with all of the parties you are including in your submission as part of the application process rather than after an event has been accepted. This ensures schedule conflicts are avoided throughout the planning process if the program is accepted. Once events are accepted, we have a very critical timeline in order to meet all of the necessary print, media and other deadlines.

We suggest a minimum capacity of 50 people for each venue in accordance with official room capacity and fire code standards. We want you to be able to maximize your time with the NDW community and give as many people as possible the opportunity to interact with your event. In the event that your event would not be possible with that minimum or it would not be as successful due to the nature of the event, please note why. Our ultimate goal is high quality programs.

When reaching out to potential venues, partners, and speakers, share with them your intentions about submitting an event to Nashville Design Week and that you would like to feature/include them. You can share with them any initial ideas for the type of program, projected date and time, capacity goals, and other details they ask about. We have found that the most successful events have all of the parties engaged from the beginning. A planning meeting is a great way to bring everyone together to collaborate on your idea.

Historically, it may be beneficial to know someone in leadership at the venue or seek out an introduction to leadership to begin the conversation. You can also share that though you will be planning the event, it will be under the umbrella of Nashville Design Week, a 501(c)3 organization.

For venues, you may also want to begin asking initial questions around fees, required insurance, food and alcohol regulations, and other details that may or may not be conducive to the event that you envision.

Though NDW will certainly do our best to answer questions and provide all necessary information as needed, we (at this point) will not be in direct contact with your venue, partners, and and/or sponsors. It is your responsibility to relay all necessary information to them and to NDW regarding your event.

We understand that details take time. Please provide as much of the big idea as possible so the content curation team can adequately review your proposal. If accepted, all final event details will be due by August 11, 2023. This allows the NDW Programming team time to review, edit, suggest changes, and send to the Communications team for printing, website updates, and proper distribution and marketing amongst our internal channels as well as external channels to ensure that we can market the event properly as part of the whole week.

This is a small fee shared by all applicants rather than a large participation fee. This helps NDW diversify its revenue and helps you support the mission of Nashville Design Week. As a thank you for your support, all applicants will be listed on our website each year.

Aside from each accepted program being given a time slot on our official calendar and giving events and partners access to our ever-growing audience, we also provide individual printed and/or digital art & brand graphics for event promotion, social media marketing and promotion, training and support on our virtual platform, a dedicated Program Coordinator to assist with logistics, and NDW also handles ticketing and event registration for all programs.

Yes! We understand there are situations that make the application fee difficult and we do not want this to be a barrier to submitting great ideas. Should you need an exemption, including students, you can apply to have the fee waived.

Nashville Design Week will run from October 30 - November 3. Each day will have events during the following time periods:

  • Morning, 8:30am - 10:00am
  • Lunch, 11:30am - 1:00pm
  • Happy Hour, 4:30pm - 6:00pm
  • Evening, 7:00pm - 9:00pm

*Please note this is subject to change.

Midnight on June 11, 2023 (please note that dates are subject to change).

  • The NDW 2023 Call for Events portal will be available on our website Friday, May 26, 2023 and closes on Sunday, June 11, 2023 at midnight.
  • Once the Call for Events has closed, all event submissions will be blind rated by our Content Curator team.
  • The Programming Team then gathers as a group to share additional feedback about event submissions.
  • The Director of Programming initiates their Final Review, followed by a presentation of the proposed calendar to other leadership and the NDW Board of Directors.
  • The final calendar of events is selected and notification of acceptance begins on July 7, 2023.

*Please note that dates are subject to change.

A group of volunteers that represent a variety of design industries and involvements in Nashville complete a blind review of the proposals. Each proposal is reviewed by at least three Content Curators. Please take a moment to review the criteria below and use it to objectively score your event prior to submission.

2023 Criteria

      1. This program inspires designers to do better design.
      2. This program speaks to a broad audience, while being educational to design and creative experts.
      3. This program sparks excitement to discover a new element of design, and foster new sources of inspiration.
      4. This program supports the mission of NDW and this year’s theme while also having specific and unique objectives.
      5. This program supports diversity, inclusivity and equity and encourages participation from all ages, ethnicities, socioeconomics, orientations, and identities in Nashville and beyond.
      6. Bonus: This program is cross collaborative. (Provides an opportunity for multiple disciplines or organizations to work together on an idea)

We also ask Content Curators to provide open feedback. Some types of open feedback are:

  • Would you go to this?
  • What can make this program better?
  • Who can this host partner or collaborate with to strengthen their topic or event?
  • What angle could be introduced to compliment or create tension?
  • How can this program better serve NDW’s mission?
  • Scores from the reviews will be averaged. These scores help guide the NDW Directors in creating the calendar of events for the week.

We look for the big idea when reviewing the application. We can only score based on the information that is provided within the submission. The more detail and context you can offer, the better. We do not have the capacity to research individual applicants and application information for each submission.

Great minds think alike. If this happens, and both concepts are of the same caliber, we will reach out and ask for you to consider collaborating with like-minded hosts. If your event topic brings an interesting counterpoint to another event topic, we will reach out and ask you to consider collaborating with that event host.

We will begin to notify hosts on a rolling basis starting on July 7, 2023. (please note that this date is subject to change).

Yes! NDW will host two help sessions prior to the event submission deadline at our Open House on May 31, and our virtual option on June 6, 2023. During this session, we’ll work with you to help create events that support our mission. You will hear from the Programming Director(s) about the selection process, the 2023 theme, see examples of accepted and incomplete proposals, and will be able to ask questions of NDW leadership as it pertains to your event, the week, and receive real-time feedback about your idea. This will be the best way to get assistance as you refine your event. There, we can also provide thoughtful suggestions for your topic, as well as potential panelists and collaborators that you can contact.

As we move forward into 2023, our model for the year will allow us to be in-person at many events and continue sharing programs over our virtual platform for increased accessibility. We will not host any hybrid events as we did in 2021.

Hosting a quality event takes time and resources, and we encourage hosts to consider this when planning their events. Should you have more than one idea, you will need to submit separate proposals for each event and the application fee will be assessed for all event submissions.

We try to accommodate the first choice on date and time, but cannot guarantee. If this is a crucial element to the success of your event we recommend detailing that in your application. If we need to schedule your event on a different date or time, we will reach out via email.

Historically, we have seen that free events have low attendance because people don’t “have” to commit ahead of time. We urge all hosts to consider charging a small fee for each event. Ticket fees can help offset program expenses, they can be donated back to NDW (a 501(c)3 organization), or to a cause of your choosing. You can also consider having a student & scholarship discounts or a pay what-you-can structure. Additional information will be communicated and coordinated with accepted event hosts. Ticket prices usually range between $10 - $25 based on event capacity and additional costs you may incur. The ticket price is set by you, the host, however NDW manages all ticket sales on our platform.