With more than 200 events highlighting the design identity of the UAE and wider region, Dubai Design Week, the Middle East’s annual celebration of the creative spirit returns for a stellar fifth edition.
Taking place November 11-16 and with Dubai Design District at the heart of the festival, Dubai Design Week will offer design enthusiasts and the design industry a diverse programme of exhibitions, installations, workshops and talks spotlighting the burgeoning regional design scene and its interaction with the global creative community.
Here is your guide you all things unmissable at this year’s showcase.
WHAT'S NEW FROM THE REGION
Alongside the installations, talks and activations, Dubai Design Week is an incubator for latest from the region and beyond, often serving as a platform to spotlight emerging talent. This year, regional designers participating in Downtown Editions tell stories of the Middle East through contemporary works. For example, Jawaher Alkhayyal, an Emirati contemporary product designer based in Sharjah, who will launch the Sarab collection: a series of hand crafted furniture, celebrating the traditional Emirati craft of palm frond weaving.
The annually remodelled exhibition dedicated to commissioning work from across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia has so far featured 171 designers. In its fifth edition, Abwab designers are challenged to recreate the local classrooms of their cultures. Designers from India, the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon will engage audiences with their representations of this year’s theme, ‘Ways of Learning’.
The Eastern Provinces of KSA pavilion is designed by Azaz Architects and features the works of Sa’af, a research-led project that works to safeguard the craft native to the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia — palm frond weaving.
The Indian pavilion, Qissa Ghar, brings a unique mix of religions, cultures and philosophies to the forefront. Seven contemporary artists were invited to interpret these fantastic stories, to be translated into an immersive experience through a labyrinth of Mughal-inspired tessellations.
The Beirut-based architecture and design studio responds to this year’s theme with an interactive wall portraying the socio-political barriers in our society through a mental and physical journey for its visitors. WAL(L)TZ focuses on transforming a wall into an activator of connection, sociability and awareness.
GLOBAL GRAD SHOW
This is your window into the future of our world. Free and open to the public during Dubai Design Week, Global Grad Show is the only exhibition of its kind, showcasing graduate projects from more than 100 universities from 43 countries in the fields of design, science, technology and engineering. Curated by Eleanor Watson, the showcase will feature more than 150 projects across the spheres of human existence, but also across a range of identified themes: health, wealth, disparity, gender and equality, sustainability, education and technology. “As visitors walk through the exhibition, they will experience projects related to the human first,” says Watson. “Moving on to the home and community and finally the city, and planet. Our hope is that it will inspire others to think critically about how they live, while inspiring all of us to act consciously.”
Barjeel by MAS Architecture Studio
Istanbul-based MAS Architecture Studio will be constructing an installation inspired by the traditional wind towers of the Gulf. Historically, the wind towers were a common architectural element of small houses and villas in the region, performing as non-electrical air-conditioners. Their function was to catch and direct cooler breeze into the house below it, circulating the hotter air to the top of the structure.
Umbra by Finsa x Tinkah
An immersive design installation that invites audiences to explore the interplay of shadow and light cast through a series of colourful architectural grids, drawing inspiration from the Mashrabiya. The project is entirely composed of fully pigmented particleboard, which Tinkah, a UAE/UK design firm, have imagined into geometric lattices forming the entry into Dubai Design Week.
MADAR Curated by Ghassan Salameh
Located within Downtown Design’s section for limited-edition design, Downtown Editions, this informative exhibition features the works of designers and experts based in the Middle-East, creating awareness on the different components and stakeholders that constitute the ecosystem behind a design industry. Madar will highlight the various stages of starting a design business, initiating a sharing platform to exchange design-related knowledge.
Mirror Meander by XBD Collective
A kaleidoscopic gateway to Downtown Design draws visitors into the fair, with a made-for-Instagram scenography and concept. Designed and executed by Dubai and London based design firm XBD Collective, the gateway is emblematic of the community that exists around design. Composed of numerous singular units that when arranged together create an imposing and singular structure, the installation is strong, yet fluid, vast, yet appearing to blend with its surroundings.
Cool Contemporary China by LWK+PARTNERS
A vessel for display and engagement, Cool Contemporary China is a dynamic canvas for the exhibition of the diversity of every day Chinese life and culture. Situated within Downtown Design, the installation is envisioned as an abstract collage of Chinese motifs. The pavilion’s form is inspired by traditional Chinese art, architecture and cultural landscape. Creating an enigmatic visual and spatial experience, the pavilion sits as a drum within a drum.
THE ART JAMEEL SHOP
With hand-picked products especially for Dubai Design Week, the Art Jameel Shop will be situated in Dubai Design District and will be the home to works centred on themes of contemporary art, design, architecture and culture — from the UAE to the world. Products from established and award-winning brands will sit alongside items commissioned especially for Design Week from regional designers and up-and-coming artisans.
The region’s most extensive programme of design talks takes place throughout Dubai Design Week. The talks are composed of three programmes, the Main Stage, the Audi Innovation Talks and The Forum at Downtown Design.
The highlights also include the panel dedicated to the significance of an Expo, its impact on the residents and the legacy of the projects with Andrew Whalley, Grimshaw, Simon Fraser of Hopkins Architects and Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Officer for Exhibitions and Pavilions, Expo 2020.
Internationally renowned designer Christian Louboutin will make his way to Downtown Design. Ahead of the launch of a major exhibition in February 2020 at the Palais de la Porte Doree in Paris, he will talk the rich artistic universe that forms his unique design identity in Dubai.
The Flowerful Project
During this one-hour floral workshop created exclusively for children to nurture their creativity, connect with nature and have fun, each child will learn fun facts about the flowers and foliage they will be using as well as experience new techniques as they create a simple and unique holiday wreath which will be perfect for the winter holiday season.
Fantastical Cities: Recycled Dubai
Join the Royal Institute of British Architects Gulf Chapter for a fun-filled day at Dubai Design District where children can unleash their creativity and make their very own Fantastical City inspired entirely by their imagination. There will be a team of professionally trained architects and architecture students on hand to assist the children and encourage them to think about the places they live and how they can positively influence how they might be designed in the future.
Design Trends 2021
With more than 20 years’ experience in interiors and collaborating with some of region’s leading design brands and studios, Toni Snyder leads industry masterclasses and consults on projects for the region’s leading design firms. At Downtown Design she will interpret global design trends for the regional market.
Dubai Design Week 2019 takes place November 11-16, city wide. Download the Dubai Design Week app for more information and plan your experience.