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Dubai Design Week 2017 guide: Top 10 things to check out

Here’s your definitive guide to the third edition of this citywide celebration of design and the creative spirit that starts November 13

  • Emirati designer Khalid Shafar and Czech lighting superpower Lasvit’s Silent Call has been two years in the maImage Credit: Supplied
  • Global Grad Show provides an unparalleled view of important and ground-breaking projects such as this mobile rImage Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai Design Week 2017 will see more than 200 activities staged in locations across the city. The free-to-attend six-day event will attract designers, architects, thought-leaders and creatives to Dubai through a high-calibre design programme that includes talks led by Sir David Adjaye, one of the world’s most influential architects, and others at the helm of iconic design — Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo Chief Design Officer, and Elmar Mock, inventor of the Swatch Watch, for example.

In addition to 90 events at Dubai Design District, original content staged by more than 80 businesses, designers and organisations is spread across the city including at venues such as Etihad Museum, DIFC and Al Serkal Avenue. Here, William Knight, Dubai Design Week’s Head of Design, shares his top 10 must-attend events.


Dubai Design Week’s unique showcase of new design: with more than 200 projects from around the world, Global Grad Show provides an un-paralleled view of important and ground-breaking projects, providing a first glimpse of technologies and ideas that will shape our future. Curated by renowned author and designer Brendan McGetrick, the selected entries emphasise four categories: innovation that transcends technology and exists independent of wealth; equality without hierarchy among universities, regions and designers; universal design open to all types of projects; and impact on the world at large through solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.


This year’s iteration of this regional design showcase will be housed in an extraordinary structure. Designed by Dubai-based multidisciplinary architectural firm Fahed + Architects, the pavilion is constructed from bedsprings sourced from the Sharjah-based waste management company bee’ah. Strong, but light in character, this mound of bedsprings will be supported by a series of interconnected posts to form a cloud of mesh. Set against a large mass of buildings within the d3 corridors, the structure’s silhouette will be reminiscent of impetuous ocean waves, coral clusters in a reef and clouds in the sky, referencing the practice’s environmental commitment. Containing more than 40 design pieces from 15 countries, this exhibition is a must-see to experience the best of the regions’ growing design talent across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.


From archival postcards, to a contemporary sound installation and graphic design tracks down the creative heartbeat of Casablanca. The third edition of Iconic City provides a poetic journey into the design scene within the North African City, influenced by the past yet very much a contemporary snapshot. Following the country’s independence in 1956, the city saw an inverse polarity in which the centre lost its status both as the historic heart of the city and its decisional power. Displacement became the means for Casablanca to reinvent itself and draw resilience. Curated by Salma Lahlou with research assistance by Omar Mrani.


With a retrospective look at the growth and development of graphic design over five decades, the Royal College of Art (RCA) brings its showcase of work from graduates that shines a bright light on the advancement in the field over the past 50 years of graphics at the world’s leading graduate design college. This year, Dubai Design Week provides a wealth of experiences and opportunities; not least access to world-class designers and ideas. This is best brought home by the series of six RCA courses that are being staged on interior, product and information design. The subjects of the courses, the quality of the teaching and insight is exceptional.


Running for the first time this Dubai Design Week, the Super Design Market will allow visitors to purchase leading design products from companies with limited retail presence in Dubai. Offering high-quality retail experience featuring a carefully blended range of brands, the market will also feature limited-edition collections by regional designers. D3-based designer Pallavi Dean debuts a collection of sketchbooks aimed at those who are digital doers, but analogue thinkers. The pad comes with a mesh bag at the back to carry the tools of the trade: pencil, rubber, business cards and maybe even a phone.


Paula Zuccotti is an acclaimed design expert, artist, future archaeologist and photographic novelist who views brands, products, and services through the lens of trends, ethnography, research, strategy, design and art. Staged for Dubai Design Week, Everything We Touch is a beautifully simple but highly insightful exhibition. Zucotti, explores different cultures using everyday artefacts as storytellers; the exhibition will see a cast of characters from across Dubai reveal the objects they use and treasure in a normal day. This unique showcase explores where design really matters — the connection between designed objects and their user.


Audi announces the second winner of the Audi Innovation Award during Dubai Design Week 2017. As a driver for innovation and ideas across the Middle East and Levant. Responding to the theme of Autonomy, the top three will be showcased within the Audi Lounge at d3 during Dubai Design Week


Prologue is a monumental, free-standing sculpture weighing 1.2 tonnes and holding more than 8,000 amber-coloured Swarovski crystal droplets within its 4 metre-diameter, patinated steel frame. The luminous ring mimics the golden sun and its endless circle represents new beginnings, life and rebirth. Designed by Fredrikson Stallard — Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard began working together in 1995 and are recognised today as leading exponents of avant-garde design — it explore ways of playing with contrasts. A simple, round shape and the shimmering luminosity of precisely cut crystal creates a monumental lens that belies its small, individual parts.


After a resounding success at Abwab last year, Palestinian-duo Elias and Yousuf Anastas return to Dubai Design Week showcasing While We Wait. A partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, this meditative structure will appear at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue. The installation is comprised of pieces of stone quarried in various regions of Palestine, which fit together to form a large, lattice-like, self-supporting structure. The changing colour of the stones represent the different Palestinian regions that contribute to the installation; in addition to offering a meditative space, the work becomes a commentary on the country’s landscape, a lot of which stands drastically altered due to the ongoing strife.


Michael Rice is one of the busiest designers at Dubai Design Week. Showcasing an exhibition, as well as hosting a series of workshops, he’ll be presenting a traditional Balinese method of firing techniques and process of the Raku kiln. Visitors can browse the exhibition, as well as get hands-on at the workshops.

Born and raised in the UAE, Omar Nakkash completed his Bachelor’s in Design and Management from Parsons, the New School for Design in New York, and then moved to Milan to complete his graduate studies in Interior Design from Scuola Politecnica de Design. This year he explores outdoor living through a nautical experience. Through an installation featuring sailing boats, The Dock offers panoramic water views at Dubai Design District, becoming an ideal backdrop for the design lovers to discover Nakkash Gallery’s latest collection of iconic new works and ocean-inspired furniture.

Emirati designer Khalid Shafar and Czech lighting superpower Lasvit unveil a programmable dynamic lighting sculpture. Silent Call has been two years in the making; the chandelier features the silhouettes of the domes of five iconic mosques in five countries — Russia, Malaysia, Germany, UAE, and Denmark. Each dome is resized in five different sizes, and reversed for functionality and composition.

A kinetic light installation moves five times a day to adapt to each country’s time zone, synchronising with the times of the five calls to prayer. Shafar also presents, along with other co-founders, the third edition of DRAK — Design Ras Al Khor. For 2017, this creative activation project explores the theme ‘Industry to Luxury’.

Don’t miss it!

Dubai Design Week to host a variety of events, workshops and exhibitions around the city between November 13 and 18. The free-to-attend programme provides an introduction to the design scene in the UAE.