One of the many reasons we love Dubai is because it never does things in half measures. This mind-boggling city has its heart set on becoming the region’s design capital and we’ve no doubt that the very first Dubai Design Week, running from October 26 to October 31 at the Dubai Design District (d3), will help it do that.

Dubai Design Week will prove to the world that Dubai, synonymous with futuristic urban design and architecture, knows more than a few things about recent local and global innovation in all aspects of design including public installations, product, industrial, graphic design and design thinking.

The third annual Downtown Design, the region’s fastest growing trade fair, will form the cornerstone of Design Week. Hosted for the first time at d3, Dubai’s custom-built hub of creativity, the fair has impressively doubled in size from last year and will showcase over 90 designers from 25 countries.

Aljoud Lootah's installation for Dubai Design Week

Yaroof by Aljoud Lootah, an installation for Dubai Design Week

Both Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design are eager to make this event a ‘place of global discovery’ and have developed several unique programmes to showcase the best of emerging design. These include:

The Global Grad Show

Ten of the top universities with specialised design-focused education will show the best of their graduate shows. This is an opportunity to see design ideas through the eyes of the young talent who will be shaping global design. The exhibit will include the work of 50 young designers and teams and cover the themes of Construction, Home, Health, Memory, Play and Work. Some of most renowned schools include Switzerland’s ECAL, The Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology, the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Art and the United States’ MIT and Pratt Institute.


Downtown Design have invited six of the world’s leading Design Weeks to participate in a display of 18 emerging designers. These include cities such as Helsinki, Istanbul, San Francisco, Mexico, Beijing and Melbourne, and will give visitors a taste of what’s trending in these far-flung markets.


Last, but certainly not least, six pavilions will showcase the freshest homegrown talent from UAE and neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia as well as Tunisia and Pakistan.


A retrospective at Dubai Design Week

Iconic City: Brilliant Beirut

In another nod to the region, Dubai Design Week has chosen to do a design retrospective of  Beirut’s complex design culture. Spanning from 1950-2015, the showcase aptly named Iconic City: Brilliant Beirut aims to unpack this culturally diverse city’s development from times of war to peace and how the fabric of the urban landscape and social dynamics directly affects all aspects of design from architecture to education.


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Don’t be surprised if you run into a few weird and wonderful design installations across the city. As a means of spreading the ideas and enjoyment of design to those that may not otherwise attend Design Week, there will be twelve site-specific sculptural works erected across the city.

Detritus Wall by Ali Al-Sammarraie

Detritus Wall by Ali Al-Sammarraie, a Dubai Design Week installation

Other public participation events include a daily programme of talks, lectures and workshops held at d3 and family-orientated programmes on the weekend. Many stores, studios, universities and galleries all over the city are staging independent exhibitions, workshops and open days and Ripe Food Market will have a weekend pop-up design and food market at d3.

Looking for some decor-spiration for your own apartment? Be sure to pop into the following booths at Downtown Design:

Kartel: Booth A 05

Kartell, the iconic Italian brand, will be making its first appearance at Downtown Design this year. Highly collectable, this company has elevated plastic furniture to luxury items, and is constantly innovating with this contemporary material.

Ophelis:  Booth D 03

Do you like to move your furniture around sporadically to make it feel as though you’ve moved somewhere new? It would be well worth your while to pop over to Ophelis. This German-made ‘modular furniture systems’ can be reconfigured in various different ways to meet your needs or your moods – visual or acoustic privacy, open-plan spaces or even cosy little nooks.

Assemblyroom: Booth D 03

This London-based studio offers you the very best in British design and manufacturing, but also makes one of the most ‘Dubai’ pieces of furniture that you are definitely going to want (a whole bunch of) – the Hyde Outside Light is ‘an illuminated stacking stool that comes with a rechargeable LED light fitting and a remote control unit that allows for either a one colour effect or an automatically changing colour sequence.’

Antidote: Booth A 06

Antidote at Downtown Design

Antidote presents ‘Kairos – an installation where we breathe’, by Stephanie Marin

Dubai-based Antidote lets you buy or rent artwork or furniture for your home, office or event. For this edition of Downtown Design Fair, Antidote presents ‘Kairos – an installation where we breathe’, by renowned French designer Stephanie Marin, recently launched during Good Design, Milano 2015.

Day Studio: Booth H 04

Day Studio is a design studio and consultancy based in Istanbul, Turkey that focuses on developing furniture, lighting and accessories as well as industrial products and packaging. Their recent project focuses on local manufacturing using a network of craftsmen located in and around Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. These contemporary pieces steeped in history are fun and quirky and a must-have addition to any design enthusiast’s home.


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