Design Days Dubai, the world’s most diverse design fair, proudly returns this month for its fifth edition. From March 14 to 18, the fair will showcase the work of exhibitors from 19 countries at The Venue in Downtown Dubai.
Design Days Dubai together with Art Dubai (March 16 to 19) make up the central pillars of Dubai Art Week (March 13 to 19) which is fast becoming an important economic and cultural initiative both regionally and internationally. So much so that an independent study found that Art Week 2015 brought in US$35 million (AED 128,5 million) worth of direct visitor spend into Dubai.
From a cultural perspective, both Art Dubai and Design Days Dubai have been nurturing and supporting local emerging creatives and showcasing them alongside the greater Middle East North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) exhibitors in order to make the region more accessible to an international market. The success of this endeavour is clear in that 51 per cent of Art Week 2015 visitors came from outside Dubai, with Art Week being their primary reason for travel.
Alongside the main exhibitors, there will be a host of public talks, workshops, performances, screenings and mentorships which encourage visitors to actively participate in new thinking and methodology around design.
Here’s our pick of what’s hot in local design this year:
To celebrate this commitment to developing local design this year’s fair will host an unmissable exhibition, WASL, featuring a retrospective of design objects produced or designed in the UAE over the last five years since the start of Design Days. This exhibition, curated by Mouza Al Matrooshi, was first shown during Beijing Design Week in September 2015, as part of the Dubai Guest City Programme.
Dubai Design & Fashion Council has commissioned Dubai-based design firm D04 Studio to create an installation, titled Flux, for Design Days Dubai 2016. D04, which was founded by four architects in 2014, was inspired the ever-changing nature of the desert sand dunes. They’ve sought to uses both horizontal and vertical surfaces that is a hybrid of wall, oor and majlis seating. Two pieces of locally produced artisanal furniture from the NM Collection, by by Abu Dhabi-based designers Fouad Mirza and Ritchie Nolasco will be featured in the installation. To further demonstrate the speciality craftsmanship available locally an artisanal craftsman will also be on site to demonstrate the techniques used in the work.
Cities Design Art & Lifestyle Store based in Dubai and Riyadh will be exploring the theme of Orientalism Reinterpreted. Each of their designers have taken a recognisable object from Middle Eastern culture and challenged perceived boundaries through reinterpretation. This exhibit aims to give ‘Orientalism’ a meaningful and relevant place in the contemporary world.
Aljoud Lootah, a multidisciplinary Emirati designer, mixes traditional silhouettes and concepts with modern elements. Her strong geometric influence together with a passion for form and function results in exceptional strong and aesthetically pleasing work.
The Fatima Bint Mohamed Initiative is an impressive community upliftment project which not only empowers over 4,000 female artisans in the hand-knotted carpet industry, but also produces the most exquisite, award winning carpet designs. Ethical design is given new meaning with this project as entire communities are taught skills and given access to free healthcare and education for children.
KALO, run by researcher, designer and architect Ammar Kalo, produces work which is a powerful integration of traditional materials and cutting edge digital technologies. An example of which is his chair STRATUM, which received a Silver A’Design Award at the prestigious 2015 Milan Design Week. Each piece is hand-finished by Ammar himself and each of the pieces at Design Days has been produced in Dubai.
Shamsa Alabbar produces a line of jewellery based on Arabic calligraphy. The writing however is not legible, but is worked carefully into geometric shapes. The result is wearable pieces of art which are simultaneously bold yet have a beautiful minimalist aesthetic.
Beirut and Dubai-based carpet designers and manufactures, Iwan Maktabi, will be presenting the One Carpet For Love collection. Designer from various disciplines including fashion, jewellery and architecture have produced 10 limited edition carpets which will be displayed and sold at Design Days. Proceeds from sales will be given to various charities.
Much like the name suggests M.A.D. Gallery is a wonderment of out-the-box design. Initially planned as an incubator for designers interested in kinetic and mechanical art sculptures and devices, the gallery has evolved to incorporate all forms of design as long as they break artistic and mechanical boundaries.
Events, Workshops and Talks
Transformations: The Emirati National House presented by Yasser Elsheshtawy will be an overview of the exhibited planned for the upcoming 15th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The concept looks at the ‘Sha’abi’ (Folk) houses building model of the 1970s in Dubai and how that model has been adapted for the ever-changing lifestyle of the UAE.
March 16, 19:00 – 20:00.
Award-winning designer and architect of KALO will be available for art and design students to review their portfolios and offer useful and professional critiques of their work.
March 16, 13:00 – 14:00.
Designers Khaled el Mays + Wissam Moubarak who are exhibiting with Cities will be presenting a workshop on drawing together different facets of the creative process into a concise idea.
March 16, 16:30 – 18:30.
The city of Dubai has outdone themselves with this series of cultural publication and tourist memorabilia, entitled Inside Dubai, which offer an alternate view of the city, which is often over commercialised. ID offers an in-depth and relevant visual reflection of contemporary life in Dubai produced by some of the most locally knowledgeable creatives in the city.
The three photographic collections, Dubai: Behind the Scenes, Memories of Satwa and The Best of Dubai Shop Names are compiled by photographer and long-time Dubai expat Jalal Abuthina.
March 18, 16:00 – 17:00.
Images: Courtesy of Design Days Dubai