HAVE DESIGN, WILL SHOW
MUHAMMAD YUSUF REPORTS ON THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FOURTH EDITION OF DUBAI DESIGN WEEK
DubaiDesignWeek (DDW), owned and managed by the Art Dubai Group and held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, staged in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), supported by Audi Middle East, ended its by-all-accounts-the most comprehensive fourth edition (Nov. 12 – 17).
Consisting of 250 events by over 120 participating companies, the festival encompassed exhibitions, commissioned installations, awards and competitions, talks and workshops as well as tours and experiences for design enthusiasts and public visitors.
In his address on the opening day, Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: “This event is in line with our mandate to support the visual arts sector in Dubai and provides an ideal platform for artists to showcase their work and their talents to various audiences”.
Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Design District (d3), said: “The fourth edition of Dubai Design Week is set to be the largest celebration and showcase of regional design talent to date”. Highlights from the event: Global Grad Show held in partnership with Investment Corporation of Dubai, showcased 150 projects from universities across the world, selected based on its power “to accelerate, change and improve lives”. The show is a platform for the next generation of designers. It brings together life-changing inventions from the world’s leading educational institutions, created to address global issues and trends such as climate change, mass migration, data privacy, and ageing populations.
New to this year ’s event was the ‘Belief in AI’ conference, which looked at creativity in the age of Artificial Intelligence and automation. The Dubai Evolution Challenge also made its debut, bringing international and UAE design students together to create the next evolution of a Dubaiinspired product or service.
Downtown Design presented a selection of established and emerging exhibitors, comprising 175 brands and designers, including 40 regional designers. Over 65 international and regional brands such as Arper, Artemide, Baxter, Manfredi Style, Normann Copenhagen, Puiforcat, Jan Kath and Villeroy + Boch, exhibited for the first time, alongside new fair features such as large-scale installations on the waterfront terrace, a pop-up retail destination and bespoke cafe concepts.
Established designers such as Aljoud Lootah, Design by Hind and Fadi Sarieddine were presented alongside co-curated exhibits by the Amman, Beirut and Casablanca design weeks, featuring rising names such as Aymen Azzam, Ahmed Khouja and Soukaina Aziz El Idrissi.
Waijh & Omar Nakkash and The Foundry by Tinkah explored a new narrative for Made in the Middle East and Layth Mahdi launched his collection developed using algorithms to guide robotic manufacturing.
“The Reading Bench” by Sakina Kara-Sabur and Alicia Spoljar, was unveiled, where 100 limited-edition pieces were available for purchase. All proceeds went to Dubai Cares.
Named after the Arabic word for ‘doors’, Abwab is an annually remodeled exhibition and architectural installation dedicated to creating a platform for design from the region. The exhibition this year took the form of a large-scale temporal structure, made up of five individual pavilions composed of natural materials including fallen twigs and timber coated in recycled paper pulp, designed by architecture firm Architecture + Other Things.
Created for luxury clothing brand Nemozena, Liz West’s installation ‘Aglow’ investigated the relationship between colour and light. It consisted of 169 hemispherical fluorescent coloured acrylic bowls arranged on the ground in a hexagon shape. Their highly reflective concave surfaces enabled spectators to see their surroundings in a different light, while their edges glowed as if charged with electricity.
The Next Generation from the Emirates presented a new and final chapter titled ‘Design for Little Ones: Us, Ours & Others’. Seven Emirati designers were invited to delve into their own childhood to design a product considering parameters such as safety, hygiene, durability and eco-friendliness.
DDW partnered with social networking giant Facebook through a real-world activation set within the heart of d3. Customised workshops and knowledge sharing activities were devised to celebrate the Arab creative community.
An exhibition of furniture work designed by twelve students from the College of Architecture Art and Design (CAAD) at the American University of Sharjah ‘ProtoPieces’ explored a specific type of joint or detail and the exhibition showed the complete design process.
Design-incubator Tashkeel presented ‘Design+Making UAE’ - a destination for those curious about the local design ecosystem, that explored design practice in the UAE from concept to completion.
Design collective DRAK, based in Dubai’s Ras Al Khor community, conducted a community initiative titled ‘From RAK to DRAK’ with a focus on three commercial outlets from the neighbourhood.
Dedicated to telling the story of the Vitra originals, the international roadshow exhibition ‘Original Comes from Vitra’ narrated the history of the product with drawings, sketches and photographs of prototypes of the world’s most iconic pieces of furniture.
Within the context of the Emirati-French Cultural Dialogue, the Institut Français in the UAE took part with an exhibition titled “Le French Design - How Innovation Creates History”, focusing on contemporary French design and savoir-faire.
The DDW Main Stage saw international key note speakers, including innovator Daan Roosegaarde, Italian designer Paola Navone and Arab satirist Karl Sharro, who addressed diverse subjects across sustainability, safeguarding culture and what the future looks like, while globally renowned designers, including Ini Archibong, Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Marc Ange, headlined the talks programme of ‘The Forum’ at Downtown Design.
UAE Modern presented a sustainability conference named ‘People, Planet, Profits’, that included panel discussions and a keynote covering topics such as ‘Super Interaction: interconnected transport and infrastructures’, ‘Circular Economies: adoption and adaptation’, ‘Architectural Education from the Perspective of the Future’ and ‘Our Society in Motion: Communities, Resilience, Place’.
Workshops for design professionals as well as public visitors of all ages also took place. Located in a pop-up space in d3 for the duration of the Week, the line-up allowed visitors and participants to engage with design process, including irst-hand modelling, sculpting, weaving or sketching via practical workshops led by UAEbased and international creatives.
Throughout the weekend (Nov. 16 -17) there was a host of live music events and DJs at the Design Souk, including a live performance by the Neighbours. Pop-up studio Making Space was dedicated to children’s workshops, including 3D printing with Ethan & Co and design with sustainability partner Bee’ah, in addition to a rolling collaborative project with the jamjar and a design challenge with Designathon Works.
This year’s DDW edition synchronised with other major art happenings. One of them was the opening of the Jameel Arts Centre, the new multi-disciplinary contemporary arts institution. It hosted a series of architect-led tours while the centre’s sculpture park at Jaddaf Waterfront featured ‘Waterlicht’ presented by Dubai Holding - a dream landscape about the power and poetry of living with water by Dutch artist, innovator and keynote speaker Roosegaarde.
Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz hosted a guest exhibition in collaboration with the Hayward Gallery in their series of warehouse takeovers, exploring the topic of futurism. Other events included tours by The Frying Pan Adventures, inviting visitors to sample the local culinary scene in the alleys of Karama, comparing cutlery-free meals from Sudan, India and Ethiopia while the Solar Decathlon Middle East saw students from ten countries compete to create sustainable solar housing through a series of ten contests.
Sharjah saw the inaugural Fikra Graphic Design Biennial, a wide-ranging exhibition and curatorial initiative dedicated to graphic design saw workshops, performances, installations and a conference that explored contemporary and historical graphic design work.
Parametric Surfaces — Superfuture Design.
Talata, Downtown Editions.