Dubai Design Week is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of Dubai Council
● A celebration of design and creativity in the region and beyond, Dubai Design Week concluded its seventh and most comprehensive edition with 270+ free-to-attend events and activitiesand participation of 430 UAE-based designers and 560 companies
● Downtown Design returned with an in-person showcase of 150+ international and regional exhibiting brands and designers
● MENA Grad Show presented 60+ ideas and solutions by 78 students from 29 universities across 10 countries from the region
● In its online showcase, Global Grad show unveiled 150 projects from 114 universities in 50 countries
● 15 outdoor installations alongside an array of pop-up exhibitions were staged throughout d3, including the Abwab 2021 commission and the 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition
● The annual initiative Urban Commissions, supported by A.R.M. Holding, unveiled the 2021 winning proposal; a modular public space installation by Beirut-based Bits to Atoms titled ‘Yowalah’
● AlUla Design presented an immersive showcase inspired by the extraordinary rock formations in North West Saudi Arabia’s desert and mountain landscapes
● Bentley Motors collaborated with Hessa Al Suwaidi to create ‘Safeefa’, a creative concept drawing from a modern iteration of traditional Emirati weaving combined with Bentley’s design and craftsmanship
United Arab Emirates, Dubai, 15 November 2021: Staged 8-13 November 2021, in strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) alongside Dubai Culture and supported by A.R.M. Holding, the region’s most important creative festival concluded its seventh and most comprehensive edition, reaffirming Dubai’s role as an important hub for design and creativity for the region and beyond.
Mette Degn-Christensen, Director of Dubai Design Week, commented, “The feedback we have received from visitors, exhibitors and partners this year has been hugely enthusiastic. From the interactive exhibitions installations activating the open-air district and generating discussions, to connecting brands and designers with commercial opportunity at Downtown Design, we are thrilled to see our diverse audiences actively engage with the festival’s key programmes. We look forward to witnessing the impact of the festival and the myriad of ideas explored over the coming year before we open for our next edition in November 2022.”
The region’s leading design fair for high-end and quality design, Downtown Design returned in a physical format this year after an online-only iteration last year, featuring more than 150 exhibiting brands and designers. International brands presenting at this year’s edition of Downtown Design included Ethimo from Italy, Kvadrat from Denmark and Verdi from Colombia.
“Downtown Design has once again been an incredible networking and business platform for the interior design industry. The 47 companies selected to be part of the Italian representation by the Italian Trade Agency, the Italian Embassy and the General Consulate of Italy, had the opportunity to showcase their collection of creativity and craftsmanship to the Gulf region that keeps reaffirming its interest for Italian furniture. Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE, commented on the success of their participation.
The region’s representative of exhibiting brand Vitra added; “Downtown Design 2021 was a great opportunity for us to connect with industry peers and the community. Given the current situation, the fair was an amazing platform for us to reconnect with old clients and meet new customers face-to-face after more than 2 years.” Sankar Viswanath – Managing Director of Swiss Corporation for Design & Technology LLC.
Individual designers and studios from across the region showcased their work in the fair’s section dedicated to limited-edition and bespoke design, Downtown Editions, from aRE, Faresi and Monochrome from the UAE to George Gerara from Lebanon, Le Lab from Egypt, and Roham Shamekh from Iran. Art studio Tashkeel unveiled the products that have resulted from the 2021 edition of the Tanween design programme.
“For Tashkeel, Dubai Design Week is where we debut pioneering new work, jettison promising designers into the spotlight and engage in meaningful discussions with fellow protagonists from the UAE design sector and beyond. This year allowed us to engage with collectors, design professionals and students around the future of sustainable design, premiering 4 groundbreaking material innovations reflecting this country’s wealth of natural resources, design and manufacturing talent,” commented Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Deputy Director, Tashkeel.
The fair also hosted The Beirut Concept Store which presented works by more than 50 established designers and emerging creatives based in Lebanon as well as the second iteration of theUAE Designer Exhibition, which unveiled works of 31 designers based in and producing in the UAE.
Established as part of the Global Grad Show platform, the second edition of MENA Grad Show presented 60 ideas and solutions by 78 students from 29 universities across 10 countries from the MENA region, from a solar powered robot built to plant seeds in desert areas to an app that organizes the routine of dementia patients, and magnetic skin to allow people with quadriplegia to control their surroundings.
Commenting on their participation in MENA Grad Show 2021, students said:
“The MENA Grad Show 2021 was an excellent opportunity for me to not only showcase the hard work I put into my master’s thesis project but also to connect with other aspiring students from the region. I look forward to the Entrepreneurship programme and the opportunities it offers.” Amna Sana, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar. Hind Rais, Zayed University, added:“Participating in the MENA Grad Show has been an amazing way to meet people from across the globe and share ideas with other students from across the region.”
In parallel to the MENA Grad Show’s physical showcase at d3, the Global Grad Show unveiled 150 game-changing projects from 114 universities across 50 countries for its seventh edition through a digital exhibition at globalgradshow.com. The ideas echoed the collective concern of students around the world with a focus on mental and physical health, food supply, city living, ethics and community welfare.
As part of the main festival, 15 outdoor installations were staged throughout Dubai Design District (d3), including; this year’s Abwab commission ‘Nature in Motion’, an undulating design concept that references the Dubai desert’s constant motion, emulating the city’s continual evolution, by architect Ahmed El-Sharabassy.
Supported by A.R.M. Holding, the seventh edition of Urban Commissions was unveiled at Dubai Design Week, showcasing an innovative public installation by Beirut-based architectural firm,Bits to Atoms. Titled ‘Yowalah’, the winning proposal is an inclusive and inter-generational public space, designed to undo social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, using 3D-printed beams.
Commenting on the success of their installation ‘Yowalah’, Bits to Atoms CEO and Founder, Guillaume Crédoz said: “This year’s theme of Dubai Design Week’s annual Urban Commission was to repair the social damages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through play. With this task in mind, we developed ‘Yowalah’, named after the eponymous traditional Emirati dance, and aiming to reinvent the way we use public spaces, inviting communities to reunite and engage. The work was clearly a success with people – and particularly children – enjoying, interacting and engaging with the installation throughout the week.”
The globally significant heritage and geological destination, AlUla, presented an immersive exhibition designed by Gio Forma and Black Engineering and inspired by the extraordinary rock formations in the region’s desert and mountain landscapes. The exhibition highlighted the projects that are shaping the emerging design city in North West Saudi Arabia and hosted a series of daily AlUla Design Talks featuring Pritzker-prize-winning French architect, Jean Nouvel, amongst others, who shared the design philosophies and principles that are guiding the transformation of AlUla.
Unveiling a unique creative installation at this year’s Dubai Design Week, Bentley Motors collaborated with Hessa Al Suwaidi to create ‘Safeefa’, a creative concept drawing inspiration from Bentley’s craftsmanship and design of movement, combined with a modern iteration of traditional Emirati weaving.
Alongside the outdoor installations around the pedestrian setting of d3, the festival featured a variety of exhibitions, including the 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition, which featured five architectural firms presenting concepts of how Dubai could look in 20 years, while The Marketplace, supported by Dubai Culture, returned this year with 50+ new participants, from a curated selection of delicacies and ceramics to mouth blown glass and unique hand-crafted designs.
Azra Khamissa, founder of AZRA Dubai and a first-time participant, said; “It has been so great to connect with the design community again, it’s definitely been successful for us and the perfect place to participate as the community of Dubai Design Week really appreciates well thought out design’.
Bringing people together throughout the week, the Making Space hosted a programme of more than 80 workshops for visitors of all ages, under the theme of ‘Paper, Plastic + Play’ and an extensive line-up of children’s activities over the weekend. The festival’s new programme of informal gatherings, Meet the UAE Creatives, hosted engaging dialogues between creative talent in the UAE throughout the week.
Fatma Al Mahmoud, Guest Curator of Dubai Design Week 2021 said: “Being given a platform to host and curate a program for UAE creatives to come together and discuss topics of relevance to what the design scene is witnessing today was absolutely needed and hoping these discussions create an impact for the future generation of designers.”