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Max Fraser. Image Credit: Mark Cocksedge

Each November, Downtown Design has brought design leaders from around the world together in Dubai for their acclaimed talks programme, The Forum.

This year, mindful of the unique challenges we are faced with and as part of their hybrid programme, their exclusive talks will be presented digitally. With a focus on the emerging value systems that will impact how design will be created and experienced in the future, the virtual talks will premier daily on from November 9-14.

Featuring global and regional industry experts — architects, interior designers, product designers and design journalists — these virtual sessions will shed light on how recent global events have made room for affirmative action and fresh design thinking that will help reshape the design industry.

Demonstrating the diversity and expertise of the Middle East’s design industry, the talks will present award-winning regional architects including Agata Kurzela, Jonathan Ashmore, Riyad Jouka, David G. Daniels and Kourosh Salehi, among others, offering local perspectives and insight on how the profession is evolving to deliver holistic and human-centric solutions.

They will be joined by international architects Asif Khan, Nuru Karim and Paul Courtnet who will explore how design could solve problems that the recent pandemic has brought to light and create opportunities to build resilient communities.

Acclaimed product designers including design duo David Nicolas, Sacha Walckhoff and Richard Yasmine, Sabine Marcelis will speak about how innovation and creative collaboration can offer tradition and heritage a voice on the contemporary design stage.

Here we profile some of the panellists.

Max Fraser

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Max Fraser.

Max Fraser works as a design commentator across the media of books, magazines, exhibitions, video, and events to broaden the conversation around contemporary design. As a consultant, he delivers content and strategy for a variety of public and private bodies around the world.

He is the author of multiple design books including DESIGN UK and DESIGNERS ON DESIGN, which he co-wrote with Sir Terence Conran. As a journalist, he works as a design correspondent leading international platforms.

At Downtown Design, he will be part of ‘Design for Humanity’, a panel discussion that will explore how a humanitarian design approach could tackle social, cultural and environmental problems to help create a more equitable world?

Aline Asmar d’Amman

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Born in Beirut in the 70s in context of war and adversity, Aline Asmar d’Amman built a shield made of words, literature and artistic references, an armour against external chaos.

In 2011, Aline Asmar d’Amman founded Culture in Architecture in Beirut and in Paris, with the deep belief in the power of beauty to ‘add to the poetic soul of the world’ and provoke addictive memories of places, in the fields of architecture, interiors, furniture design and artistic direction.

Culture in Architecture is currently involved in projects ranging from luxury hospitality to private residential, furniture design and scenography. Recent projects include the art direction of Hotel de Crillon’s renovation, the transformation of an English office building into an urban boutique Hôtel in London, an intervention on the Bahrain airport terminal.

d’Amman headlines Downtown Design’s panel discussion ‘A New Design Culture’.

Sabine Marcelis

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Sabine Marcelis is an award-winning Dutch designer who runs her practice from the harbour of Rotterdam. After graduating from the Design Academy of Eindhoven in 2011, Marcelis began working as an independent designer within the fields of product, installation and spatial design with a strong focus on materiality. Her work is characterised by pure forms which highlight material properties.

Marcelis applies a strong aesthetic point of view to her collaborations with industry specialists. This method of working allows her to intervene in the manufacturing process, using material research and experimentation to achieve new and surprising visual effects for projects both showcased in museums and commissioned by commercial clients and fashion houses. Sabine considers her designs to be true sensorial experiences and not simple static works: the experience becomes the function, with a refined and unique aesthetic.

As part of the panel ‘An Eye to The Future’ she will contemplate design’s role as an agent of societal change.

The talks premier November 9-14. Discover the full programme here: