Dubai Design Week marked a great success for the rapidly unraveling city that is Dubai. The event was fun-packed and much inspired. Do let me take you through highlights of my journey…

The event started with a press conference assembled by the Urban Majlis, a design and fashion council dedicated to stirring and guiding the design culture of Dubai. It launched the first Annual Report of the Majlis, where the trends of design in the region and as compared globally were shared. In summary, the design sector, as it fans out to a multitude of industries – such as architecture, fashion, product design, and more, is substantially rising in its activity within the last 10 years. Thus if one has a desire to pursue their creative capacities, there is more than one place for them in our modern world.

I was then taken to AlFahidi District, a national project which has been inspired by traditional Arab architecture, culture, and art. AlFahidi housed rooms spoke of the history of gold coins, and original building material used in traditional structures, it had central courtyards open for all sorts of nostalgia, and more. After a tour of the city’s architecture and installations set up across the city, journalists were then invited to Bernard Khoury’s opening keynote. Here, Khoury boldly defied the modern practices of architectural design, and stressed on the necessity of honest architects who tell the story of their environment, instead of standing in disregard of them.

The second-day tour also started with a press conference which delivered the masterplan and vision of Dubai Design District, also known as D3, where we spent the rest of the day exploring. This is a space which has been created for the sake of growing and injecting the design industry with an energy boost. It has office spaces for major design brands, and shall house studios strictly dedicated to upcoming artists, where the rent is controlled to ensure designers are supported to grow in a market like Dubai, and in a time like the 21st century; and then it has everything in between these two.

After the press conference, we were able to visit the Downtown Design Expo, also residing at D3. Here multiple international brands showcased their latest designs, from interior design, furniture, lighting, kitchens, and more. I personally almost jumped into a pool of sand-soft crystals poured into a trenched long table.

After lunch, I took an expedition around the district to view the event-dedicated pavilions spurred by the concept of Abwab, and themed Games: The Element of Play in Culture. Pavilions came from Jordan, Pakistan, Kuwait, KSA, Tunisia, and UAE. And then so much more at D3, with an expo Brilliant Beirut dedicated to the history of Lebanese design, focusing on architecture and product designs. We also visited the Global Grad Show, which brought under one roof, winning innovative designs from the best design schools across the world.

On my final day of Dubai Design Week, we visited Tashkeel, a haven dedicated for designers of all sorts. It included multiple studio spaces fully equipped for fine arts, photography, jewellery and all sorts of product designs, textile printing, and more. Tashkeel also showcased during our visit a most astounding exhibition inspired by Arabian carpet design. Designer Zsanett Szirmay laser-cut carpet patterns into screen sheets which when placed into a sound machine translated the patterns into musical renditions. The show for me ended at the DRAK installation which brought together jewellery, fashion, architectural, and product design from UAE based designers Khalid Shafar, Khulood Thani, Nadine Kanso, and Tarik Al Zaharna, together their combined designs explore the potential for the Ras Alkhor Industrial Area, especially on a note of environmental consideration. In its totality, Dubai Design Week, though as a project still in its infancy, presents a limitless potential for designers, artists and creative industries of all kinds. One hopes that such initiatives are contagious and we can see more of the same across the whole of our GCC region.

– Fatima Al-Saad

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