Thursday marks the start of the Washington, D.C. International Design Festival, an ambitious three-month whirl of free exhibitions, symposiums, lectures, videos, films and an interactive photo contest, all focused around product design.

The festival cornerstone is a design exhibit, “The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century,” at Arlington’s Artisphere. The more than 100 items include furniture, lighting, textiles, electronics, housewares and interactive design. The pieces are from the United States, Scandinavia, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Britain.

The show is curated and produced by Douglas Burton, co-owner of design firm Apartment Zero, who has been working on it for more than a year. “I genuinely love product design, from toasters to garden tools to furniture to interiors to motorcycle design,” Burton says. “I wanted an outlet for Washingtonians to have a place to see what is happening around the world.”

The show is being held through May 19. Tonight’s opening reception at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, is free and open to the public, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, go to or call 703 875-1100.