Dubai Design Week, a new, city-wide, celebration of design encompassing interior, furniture, product and graphic design, will take place from October 26-31 at Dubai Design District (D3), the city’s design hub announced on Tuesday. The umbrella event will also host a series of talks, exhibitions, special installations and premieres, with a focus on education and global exposure.
“As leaders in the regional design market, we have an enormous opportunity for growth, not only for us but for the region,” said Nez Gebreel, CEO of Dubai Design and Fashion Council at her organisation’s community event, called Urban Majlis, where details of the design week were unveiled.
Of course, it’s about creativity, but as much about hard figures. The global design industry is valued at $2.2 trillion as of 2013, 27 per cent of the Mena region’s design economy was generated by the UAE.
“It brings with it responsibility towards the region to realise its full potential,” said Gebreel. “Dubai Design Week is one of the key initiatives the Council has etched to realise the emirate’s collective goal.”
Born from a symbiotic relationship between commerce and creativity, design weeks around the world give cultural context and creative impetus to regional creative industries. Dubai Design Week aims for a greater international visibility for our creative class.
“Typically, design weeks focus mostly on their national market. Dubai Design Week aims to position Dubai as an international nucleus for the global design community as well as becoming the regional capital for design,” explains Cyril Zammit, fair director of Design Days Dubai — the region’s only fair dedicated to rare, collectable design pieces.
“Although Dubai Design District will be the centre point, partner events will also be scheduled around Dubai with an extensive daily roster of design events targeting both design professionals and those just interested in design.”
The event is designed to work across three levels: Reciprocal alliance with six leading design weeks will further Dubai’s positioning as a centre for discovery. It will also provide educational opportunities for students and designers in the local design industry. And thirdly, Abwab — a themed collection of design exhibitions inspired by the concept ‘The Element of Play’ — will host exhibits from the GCC in the Kuwaiti, Saudi Arabian and Emirati pavilions, accompanied by exhibits from Jordan, Tunisia and Pakistan.
Designers from each country will reinterpret traditional games in pavilions designed by the Emirati architecture firm Loci, situated in the open spaces of Dubai Design District, arranged to be discovered on foot.
The world’s largest and most successful design weeks are built around commercial design fairs: 100% Design led to London Design Festival, while Milan Design Week is built around Salone del Mobile.
At the heart of the Dubai Design Week is our own commercial design fair, Downtown Design, which moves its home to D3 this year. Fair director Rue Kothari promises a carefully edited mix of international, local, established and emerging brands.
“We’re building on the success of the past two editions to include more international brands, a greater diversity of product categories and key players in the regional market,” she said.
With barely any leasable show space left — the fair is still five months away and its footprint doubled from last year’s offering — Downtown Design 2015 will host six design weeks from around the world: Melbourne, Mexico, Helsinki, Istanbul, Beijing and San Francisco, each adding a new layer of never-seen-before content from their territory. In turn, these design weeks will showcase Dubai’s local design talent at their respective events.
“The Dubai Design Week will give international profile to our industry. Through its platform, it will make Dubai a meeting point for everyone in the region that’s involved in design — from the distributors and brands to emerging designers and students, it’s an opportunity to learn, be inspired and do business,” added Kothari.
— Pratyush Sarup writes twice a month on design in The Weekend tabloid!, and edits the design site designcarrot.net. You can follow the site on twitter @DesignCarrot.