Dubai Design Week 2020 is now open

Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and member of Dubai Council, staged in strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) alongside Dubai Culture and supported by A.R.M. Holding, Dubai Design Week 2020 will mark the first major cultural event in the region since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 2020 programme of 150+ events and activities includes free-to-attend exhibitions, pop-ups, talks and workshops, installations, unique retail experiences and activities for visitors of all ages. With a focus on redefining and reimagining the way we will live in a COVID-impacted world, the festival will incorporate all safety measures within the open-air setting of Dubai Design District (d3), as well as launch new online initiatives.

HE Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture said: “Dubai Design Week is a pioneering event on the emirate’s agenda and plays a pivotal role in expanding design and innovation horizons locally, regionally and globally. At Dubai Culture, we recognise the positive impact of cooperation and we welcome local and international partnerships that would provide opportunities to empower creative industries and talents. Through our support of Dubai Design Week, we are keen to allocate resources to also support talents, innovators and entrepreneurs. Our support of the event and its initiatives aligns with our duties towards the cultural and creative sectors as well as with the sectoral pillar of our updated strategic roadmap.”

Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director of Dubai Design District (d3), says: “These extraordinary times have been a test for us all, but what they’ve also done is reinforce our support for the creative industries and Dubai Design Week plays a critical role in that. As the festival’s strategic partner and host, visitors can expect a safe environment when they return to our community for the six-day event, with an impressive programme of installations, urban interventions, exhibitions, pop-ups and talks. Design and creativity matter now more than ever and Dubai Design Week is an opportunity for us to come together around shared values, promote local and international talent and celebrate achievements, as we navigate the region’s next chapter of growth and innovation.”

Programme Highlights

Mindful of the challenges facing the creative community and the design industries, Dubai Design Week has returned with a revised programme this year, offering centre stage to cultural and region-focused showcases shedding light on the local creative scene and on the role of the creative industries in addressing the way we will live in the near and far future.

With both virtual and onsite activations, Downtown Design evolves its programme, structured to help the design industry reconnect and be inspired. Showcasing exploratory architectural and interior design concepts by 25+ studios from the UAE, KSA, Kuwait and Lebanon, the multi-media exhibition ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ offers a window into how we will live, work and play in a post-pandemic world, spotlighting the diversity of design talent in the Middle East.

Featuring 150+ leading international and regional brands, the new Downtown Design Digital Fair showcases latest collections from Sancal, Pedrali, Lasvit, Dedon, Arper, Normann Copenhagen and others, whilst regional studios including Saccal Design House, Kawn, Kutleh and Rejo offer a glimpse into the Middle East’s thriving contemporary design scene. The fair’s virtual talks programme featuring a diverse group of industry leaders, including architect and designer Abdalla Almulla (UAE), acclaimed designer Sabine Marcelis (The Netherlands), Hend Matrouk from Studio Toggle (Kuwait), product designer Richard Yasmine (Lebanon) and journalist and author Max Fraser (UK), exploring the emerging design values as a result of the pandemic throughout the week.

The Dubai Design Week Marketplace will take place during the weekend of 13-14 November bringing together 70+ of the best of Dubai’s artisans, creatives and entrepreneurs in a new outdoor retail initiative. Supported by Dubai Culture who have offered grants to 15 entrepreneurs to help take part, the Marketplace will showcase the many talented and creative individuals running businesses in Dubai and offer visitors to purchase quality, original and predominantly locally made products.

The inaugural MENA Grad Show showcases 50 of the most exciting social impact innovation projects that can help improve and transform lives. The exhibition allows visitors to meet the graduates digitally and learn about the aspirations behind their work, through a series of interactive films, and also understand how students in different disciplines, from architecture to chemistry and electrical engineering, approach complex social and environmental problems.

An annually re-modelled platform bridging emerging creative talent from the neighbouring countries of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, Abwab this year consists of a singular landmark pavilion; the commissioned proposal ‘Fata Morgana’ Iraqi designer Hozan Zangana in collaboration with Generous Studio and Woodcast Designs focuses on the framework of a modern-day city through an open-plan arrangement of components arranged around a central origin point, featuring pillars symbolic for each of the seven Emirates and incorporating natural social distancing for visitors to have a safe experience.

With the aim to support the local design community currently undergoing the repercussions of the ongoing pandemic, a new showcase titled UAE Designer Exhibition spotlights innovative works of 20 locally based creatives, a capsule exhibit of solo work and inter-disciplinary collaborations, the d3 Edit will reflect the diversity of the Dubai Design District (d3) creative community members and the inaugural d3 Architecture Festival 2020, in partnership with RIBA Gulf, features regional projects of 40 RIBA-chartered architectural practices.

Tashkeel unveil the limited-edition pieces inspired by, designed and manufactured in the UAE by the participants of their 2020 Tanween design programme; Nada Abu Shakra, Lina Ghalib and Neda Salmanpur, alongside the ‘Fashcultivate’ exhibition presented by 1971 Design Space and curated by Khulood Thani and Fatma Al Mahmoud, celebrating the date palms as an integral part of the region’s cultural and historical identity through 7 commissioned textile pieces by Gulf-based designers, and Dubai-based Hamzat Wasl Studio’s exhibition ‘Mn Laila’ uses mixed media to invite visitors on a heritage-inspired journey.

Showcases staged by international initiatives shed light on their respective creative communities’ responses to the multifaceted issues caused by the global pandemic; With innovation in focus, the Embassy of Switzerland to the UAE and Bahrain present a series of diverse activities in a curated exhibition, the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UAE offer an experiential dining concept in a series of greenhouses placed in the heart of d3 and with a focus on the importance of water, energy whilst l’Institut Francais have joined with Cité du Design Saint-Etienne in a conceptual showcase with a focus on space exploration and design.

Staged throughout the open-air, pedestrian setting of Dubai Design District (d3), 25 outdoor installations and urban interventions are responding to the Dubai Design Week 2020 theme of the creative community’s role in addressing the new challenges arising from the requirement of physical distancing. Cross-disciplinary projects include; Emirati designers Khalid Shafar, Aljoud Lootah and Hamad Khoory unveil their convertible seating solutions designed for the UAE’s continuously adapting urban environments, commissioned by the American Hardwood Export Council; Kuwait-based Studio Meshary AlNassar has worked with Cosentino to present a contemporary take on the ancient Persian paradise garden as an antidote for enclosed spaces and Dubai-based architect Jumanah Rizk has joined forces with Delta Light, conceptualising an abstract seating installation that cultivates the local and natural resources in response to COVID-19.

A series of urban interventions titled ‘The Colour of Distance’ aims to guide visitors through the festival with the use of lights and colours by MAS Paints and an immersive technology-led experience ‘Points in Common’ by Montreal-based Studio Iregular allows visitors to control and interact with a digital experience onsite together, yet apart.  Emirati and Saudi architects Reema Almheiri and Lujain Alatiq, who were awarded the Urban Commission 2020 by A.R.M. Holding, will exhibit their project ‘Basta’, a modular array of frames inspired by traditional markets.

This year’s talks programme hosts experts demonstrating leadership in their fields, to discuss subjects shedding light on the alternative emerging structures and solutions, that creatives can adopt, to navigate new realities, shaped by globally disruptive events, affecting societies, economies and communities. Hosted at Re: Urban Studio, professionals and academics in the field of design can participate in Masterclasses, aimed to elevate practical and vocational skills of SMEs, self-employed and aspiring creatives. The Makers’ Programme offers a range of hands-on activities catering to all ages and levels of experience from leather crafting and embroidery to robotics and laser-cutting, giving participants a chance to explore innovative methods, techniques and an array of materials, from thread to wood.

Alongside the Dubai Design Week Marketplace, the extensive weekend programme on 13-14 November offers activities for all the family in d3 and children of all skill levels from the ages of 5+ can join a variety of drop-in activities for all the family from seed planting to pottery classes. Visitors will also be able to enjoy a wide range of food and beverage offerings from pop-ups that offer fresh organic produce straight from the farm to Palestinian flatbreads, as well as many of Dubai’s best restaurants, cafes and bars based in d3.

The programme in d3 is free to attend and visitors can download the free Dubai Design Week App to register their preferred visiting time, customise their visit based on interests and navigate the festival with an interactive map to ensure a safe and fun experience. All the activities will adhere to strict COVID regulations, sanitisation and social distancing protocols.

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