The program is curated into two streams. There is a stream of local and international exhibitions and presentations organised by the National Gallery of Victoria, which includes the Melbourne Art Book Fair and the Melbourne Design Fair. There is also the satellite program of events and exhibitions organised by the design community. The satellite program makes up approximately 90 per cent of the program with events held at ateliers, studios, retail spaces, universities, galleries, gardens and public spaces throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. Participation in the satellite program is via an expression-of-interest.
MDW is an initiative of the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and delivered by the NGV. The program is built on the enthusiastic engagement and participation of the design sector and the public. Since 2017 the program has grown in scope and scale from just under 100 programs in 2017 to over 350 in 2022. Over 55,000 people attended the 2022 festival making it Australia’s leading and largest design event. The curation of the program is led by the NGV Department of Contemporary Design and Architecture team.