Dubai Design Week returns for its eighth season from 8 – 13 November at its home in d3, a hub for art, design, fashion and architecture. The annual event is one of the region’s most significant cultural platforms with a line-up demonstrating Dubai’s commitment to design. This year the focus is on sustainability and the festival’s theme Design With Impact is integrated across the range of disciplines including architecture, product design, interiors, and multimedia.

A platform for regional and international individuals and companies to showcase their design experience and thinking by ways of installations, exhibitions, and overall experiential mediums, the 2022 fair is presenting 200 brands and designers. From outdoor installations and landmark projects to emerging talent hubs and compelling industry talks, there is a lot to experience and learn at Dubai Design Week 2022. 

In her opening remarks Kate Barry, Director of Dubai Design Week, commented, “Design With Impact is a number of short design stories on sustainability. We have engaged with regional and international architects and designers, asking them to showcase an exclusive work that has a positive effect on the environment. Impact can be driven through the innovation of new materials, recycling and/or upcycling. Design With Impact expresses the different facets of how we can design a better future.” 

Here are 5 unmissable must-visit features from this year’s line-up: 

Image courtesy House of Today

IOTA is a large-scale mesmerizing entrance installation handmade from rammed earth using sand from the UAE, created by Lebanese multidisciplinary design-duo Karim Tamerji and Elias El Hage with the support of House of Today. The site-specific installation is made as a cluster of freestanding and stackable earthen spheres, hand-crafted in varying colours and textures. It represents a celebration of the Middle East region and its natural resources. Paramount to its creation is the use of sand–one of the most abundantly found local materials. The concept and idea for ‘IOTA’ was conceived in Dubai and in accordance with the festival’s mission towards sustainability, “Sand has existed timelessly and, in many ways, paints a meaningful picture of the city's history, culture and identity,” explained the designers regarding their inspiration behind choosing to use sand, one of the most natural materials native to the region. “Instinctively, we saw this as an opportunity worth embracing, while asking ourselves — how can we use the most abundant local material as an ecological ode to Dubai?” Reimagining material as form, the designers explore a timeless and perceptibly heavy material as contemporary, soft and ‘weightless’ using a handmade technique, pushing its technical and aesthetic boundaries. The end result is one that is as magnetic in visual form as it is in its message of dedication to the local Arabian environment.

Once Upon a Forest by architecture firm OBMI brings the UAE's natural world of mangroves to the urban landscape, awakening new possibilities. Under the shelter of the pavilion's floating canopy, individuals are immersed in an exploration of the protection and promise that awaits within the indigenous forest ecosystem. Designed as a pavilion that plays with the perspective of the UAE’s natural heritage and resilient ecology, its organic feel takes from the mangroves forests which comprise so much of the spectacular landscape of the United Arab Emirates – bringing the natural mangroves wharfs into the heart of the design community of the 21st century. Visitors will step under the pavilion's floating canopy and become immersed in an exploration of the protection and promise that awaits within the indigenous forest ecosystem. Tareq El Zayat, Managing Director of OBMI commented, “OBMI’s mission is always to leave the communities we serve better than we found them, designing for the best long-term outcomes for the land and communities. Our collective passion and this year’s event theme inspired OBMI to realize ‘Once Upon a Forest’ with a hope that individuals will become immersed in the beauty and importance of the region's most valuable natural treasure, supporting the preservation of mangroves toward a more sustainable future.”

Design in the Metaverse is an exhibition by Dubai-based specialist MetaDecrypt designed in the form of a circular Dome. Visitors are invited to explore the topical theme Metaverse while witnessing the changing perceptions of design. Metaverse technology is pushing the boundaries of design and is considered by some to be the next evolution of the internet. It can take many different forms like online communication and business meetings, where people meet and collaborate or digital games, where people interact via avatar of themselves. “Imagine a virtual world in which people live, work, shop and interact with others — all from the comfort of their couch in the physical world. This is known as the metaverse”, says David Needle from TechTarget. Some users can virtually travel over the metaverse for fun with no goal in mind, others can use avatars to represent themselves, communicate with each other and virtually build out the community. Avatars can use digital currency to buy clothes and many other items. It aims to educate and spark further discussion, focusing on hot topics such as NFTs, AR & VR Technology and virtual worlds. 

Suhail Design by Reem Al Bustani is an installation inspired by the Suhail star, and its importance and fame in the Arab world. In ancient Arab folklore, Suhail’s appearance represents the weather’s descent into cooler conditions. Its presence is widely renowned and anticipated across the region. In the UAE, the star attracts even greater attention, as it's believed to be a symbol of prosperity, abundance, and favorable times. This design is inspired by the rhythmic sounds of waves rising and falling after the Suhail comes and the changing of seasons. This is conveyed through its combined use of Loop LED tubes and the varying height of the heads. In its creation, metal with a mirrored finish with loop LED tube lights have been utilized.

Grounded in Hope is an installation that brings to light the importance of responsible architecture in achieving peace and harmony with our planet. Rendering a habitat to birds and mammals that seek shade and protection, its soft hues and natural colors splashed across fabric unveil the narrative. The installation aims to inspire environmentally conscious architecture and demonstrate how materials can be rejuvenated creatively and how responsible design can minimize environmental footprints and ensure a better life for future generations. Executed by Grounded Design a Dubai-based boutique interior design studio that specializes in high-end residential, commercial and hospitality projects, this installation has been conceptualized by studio Co-founder and Creative Director Bani Singh and Project Manager Jiana Dukmak, alongside lead designers Meher Sahney and Abdul Hazeeb. 

Dubai Design Week will take place November 8-13 November 2022 at d3, Dubai Design District 

For more information, visit

-Saira Malik 

Images courtesy of Dubai Design Week 

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