Best Home Shows and Architecture Exhibitions

Showcasing Home Design, New Construction, and Innovations in Architecture

Endless Staircase Installation from the 2013 London Design Festival
Endless Staircase Installation from the 2013 London Design Festival. Photo by Mary Turner/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

"Architecture," said Frank Lloyd Wright in 1930, "is the scientific art of making structure express ideas." Some of the world's greatest design ideas can be found at architecture trade shows, exhibitions, expos, and home shows. Sometimes when professionals get together at annual meetings, organizational sparks can fly. Check out this array of exciting events:

Architecture Shows, Expositions & Events:

  • 2018, May 26 to November 25: 16th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, curated by the Irish team of Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.
  • Ongoing, The Design Center at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago
  • Milan, Italy: Some cities make trade shows their business.Trade Shows in Milan 2016 - 2017

    At these expositions, often for the price of admission, you can seek out your dreams or be stunned by the wares of hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world. The showcase is usually on the upscale building components and furnishings, including kitchen and bath products, flooring, fabric and textiles, lighting, and outdoor amenities. Glass rock fire pits have been, well, a hot item lately. For architects and builders, residential elevators are becoming popular—feel free to take a ride in a nifty pneumatic vacuum elevator. And be sure to check out the NanaWall System, a high thermal, operable glass wall. Hello, Philip Johnson!

    Why go to an Expo?

    Historically, ideas have been showcased in world exhibitions like Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The World's Fair in Chicago began with a parade in October 1892—a 400th anniversary celebration of the Christopher Columbus journey to the New World in 1492—but most of events happened throughout the next year. The expos gave us the Ferris Wheel, the Midway, various foods and beverages that had their debut, and, of course, the Columbus Day holiday. Daniel Burnham was chief architect and urban planner of the 19th century expo that continues to influence modern America.

    For architects, the Venice Biennale of Architecture is a high-profile venue. Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito presented his disaster relief designs, Home-for-All, at the 13th Venice Biennale. Expositions such as these are the place to find the newest and most innovative design ideas.

    What’s your dream home?

    Back when Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie houses were new and trendy, the master architect decided to design a more economical, simplified version of the style. The result? Frank Lloyd Wright's new idea was a uniquely American style he called Usonian. As it turned out, these little houses weren't really cheap, but they were compact and efficient, which still is a very good idea. Even today, structures can express ideas. Just take a look at the Endless Staircase Installation from the 2013 London Design Festival.

    If you could incorporate this stairway maze into your own home....

    What's your idea of the perfect home? A Queen Anne Victorian? A Tudor Revival Cottage? A Geodesic Dome? And, what features MUST be included to make a house truly special?

    The definition of luxury has always been a moving target. So it is with dreams.

    Sources: Frank Lloyd Wright On Architecture: Selected Writings (1894-1940), Frederick Gutheim, ed., Grosset's Universal Library, 1941, p. 141; Endless Staircase Photo by Mary Turner / Getty Images News / Getty Images