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Connecting design with commercial opportunity and bringing the region’s design community together on one platform, Downtown Design has continually championed a community spirit within the highly competitive industry. As part of their programme to scaffold the region’s architecture and design professionals during the present scenario, the fair is spotlighting expert industry advice and guidance.

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Speaking to Fair Director Rue Kothari, the leadership at Gensler UAE discussed how design professionals can stay current and advance their careers in a dynamic design industry especially given the current extraordinary times we find ourselves in.

“We all recognise that keeping up to date with the latest design trends is imperative, however it’s equally important to continuously evolve and grow in our craft by developing both technical and soft skills,” says Diane Thorsen, Design Director at Gensler UAE. A career in design includes lifelong learning and diversifying. “This is truer now than ever before. Designers have an opportunity to stay abreast with design trends and technology and hone their skills.”


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Alan Crystal, Design Technology leader at Gensler notes “as our roles evolve, we need to constantly develop our digital skills to stay relevant and ahead of the ever-shifting technological landscape.” Our design process is fully digital, and clients demand more value from their projects. The core competencies such as design, planning, drafting, rendering, and BIM are invaluable, but if designers want to have an edge then they should consider courses in computational design and visual programming.


Buildings are intensive in their energy and material consumption. Designers with an understanding on sustainable building design and whole-building performance (including LEED and WELL among others), will add additional value to both clients and the industry as a whole. A number of these courses are online, and self-study and exams can be done virtually. The understanding of how to design healthy buildings is an invaluable asset.

“Studying WELL building allowed me to see how our health can be positively impacted by design” says Thorsen. “I found the material insightful and allowed me to reconsider how we can influence other consultants and clients to rethink the power of design.”


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At Gensler, we partner with our clients to determine through design, their business strategy. We create and shape their business culture through workplace strategies, analysis and design. Courses that offer Project Management or Market Research are a worthy addition to diversify one’s skill set. Gensler is a research driven group with a focus on the power of design to change lives.

Tim Martin, Managing Director at Gensler recommends “learning about the business of design; market research and business strategy. Get to you know your client’s business. Our role as designers and architects is fast evolving, we need to think smarter on providing wining solutions.”


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“As a designer, part of our role is to communicate our ideas, design thinking, and process so as to excite and inspire clients through storytelling” says José Fainé, Principal and Design Director at Gensler. This presents an opportunity to develop excellent communication skills. These can be honed through an online public speaking course or by simply watching many TED talks to understand the skill of presenting and storytelling. Hand sketching and practical drawings courses are also an excellent skill to develop.