DUBAI – This year’s Dubai Design Week, a major event for regional and international design professionals and enthusiasts, was marked by the “collaborative spirit” between partners, brands and studios coming together to develop concepts and share knowledge.
Held annually at the Dubai Design District (d3), the event speaks volumes of the way to approach “the next phase of living on our planet and has “acted as an invitation to expand our attitude towards sharing,” said Rawan Kashkoush, Dubai Design Week creative director.
Dubai Design Week, in its fifth year, took place from November 11-16 and has grown to be the largest creative festival in the Middle East. A record number of 90,000 visitors were treated to an extensive programme of more than 200 events involving 150 organisations and more than 560 designers from across the world.
Alongside Dubai Design Week, Downtown Design had a 20% increase in visitors this year. Around 200 brands from more than 30 countries were present, bringing together interior designers, architects, manufacturers and consumers.
The event encompassed many other strands — Global Grad Show; MADAR, an interactive project focusing on the Middle East’s design industry; Abwab, an architectural multimedia exhibition on the concept of education; and a series of installations across the Design Quarter of d3.
“Abwab,” meaning “doors” in Arabic, offers a platform for emerging design talents from across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia to showcase their creative ideas. This year the designers, selected from the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and India, were challenged to recreate the local classrooms of their cultures through one common theme: “ways of learning.”
“Sa’af” by Shahad Alazaz, founder of Azaz Architects, in collaboration with local craftspeople from the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia, investigates the different palm frond-weaving styles from the region. The installation, envisioned as a giant cocoon, drew a lot of curious visitors who could experience the symbolic representation of a community up close.
“Qissa Ghar,” meaning “Home of Stories,” from India presented by the Busride Studio, retells creation myths from across India brought to life on Khadi lanterns.
“WAL(L)TZ” by Polish-Lebanese sisters Tessa & Tara Sakhi, known as T SAKHI Architects, in their installation presented a journey depicting real and imagined walls, which was very interactive and appealed to visitors of all ages.
“Umbra,” a collaborative design of Finsa (a pioneer in the manufacture of particleboard and MDF) and Emirati design studio Tinkah, invited visitors to explore the interplay of shadow and light inspired by the mashrabiya (traditional, decorative windows).
MAS Architecture Studio from Istanbul produced a 6-metre high installation titled “Barjeel,” inspired by the traditional wind towers of the United Arab Emirates, composed from layers of reclaimed cardboard and strip lighting in an exercise to build from reused materials. The resulting space is a three-dimensional volume that allows collective seating at street level with maximum exposure to natural light and prevailing winds at the top.
“The Maze” by Nyxo Visionary Design, a Dubai-based design studio, consists of an interface composed of modular panels. The dynamic installation explores interactive surfaces with a sculptural quality creating a seamless and unique pattern every time the visitor reconfigures the rotation.
The Audi Innovation Hub this year was an immersive structure designed by Emirati designer and architect Abdulla Almulla, founder of design studio MULA. Consisting of a sweeping steel structure combined with gradient mesh, which creates shade, the design of the hub was inspired by the technology of Audi’s e-tron electric car and Almulla’s use of patterns and geometry in setting design guidelines.
Other highlights include a calligraphic study of the word “friends” by Austrian furniture makers Bene in collaboration with Palestinian designer Ibraheem Khamayseh.
“Poleno,” a silent drone that helps to rebuild damaged ecosystems by stimulating pollination, was the winning project of the Global Grad Show, claiming the ICD Progress Prize. It was designed by Laura Cragnolini and Juan Jose Martinez Guerrero from Instituto Europeo di Design, Madrid.
“Pincher” by Sahar Madanat from Twelve Degrees was the winner of the fourth Audi Innovation Award. Responding to the theme of “simplification,” the winning project is a physical interpretation of the phrase “a pinch of salt.” Rather than shaking salt and pepper out of a dispenser, the process has been represented through the motion of pinching a lightweight silicon device whereby the opening of the nozzle is precisely the amount that would be released from between your own fingertips.
Aya Charife was the winner of the Rado Star Prize with her project “Takyeef,” an outdoor element that functions as an air conditioner.
Dubai Design Week 2019 offered opportunities for visitors to directly engage with regional talent, creating a dialogue that affirms Dubai’s status as the region’s creative capital.