The high points and amazing designs that rocked Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design

Photos: Ignacio Soto Conde

It’s great to see new designs, innovations, and people from all across the world under one roof. Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (DCAA), Dubai Design Week is staged in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (DCAA) and Audi Middle East. Region’s biggest design carnival, Dubai Design Week (November 12-17) grew by 25% this year; welcoming 75,000 visitors into Dubai Design District (d3) and featured its most diverse programme to date, consisting of 250 events staged by 130 participating companies. This year, new section Downtown Editions was also inaugurated. The Downtown Design (November 13-16) fair saw 16,000 visitors come through the doors and presented 175 brands of which 40% were new exhibitors and including 40 regional designers. There were lots of awards and competition in this edition. Audi Middle East announced Lebanese designer Elias El Soueidi as the winner of the Audi Innovation Award 2018, responding to this year’s theme ‘Connections’. Selected from 65 submissions from across the Middle East, the winning project ‘Ruin to Reality’ is an app that aims to allow access to virtual 3D models of ruined historical buildings and will receive $25,000 worth of investment in its concept.

Urban Commissions is an annual Dubai Design Week initiative that presents designers living in the UAE with an opportunity to produce an urban furniture product, unveiled during the Week and installed permanently at d3. The 2018 winning project ‘Fayyd’, which means overflow in Arabic, by Khalid Al-Tamimi, responded to the task of creating a water feature in order for city dwellers to maintain a connection to nature. Design 100, part of Dubai Design District (d3)’s ‘Design for Good’ initiative, the winning project of Design 100, “The Reading Bench” by Sakina Kara-Sabur and Alicia Spoljar, was unveiled and on display within Downtown Editions, the inaugural fair section of Downtown Design. 100 pieces of the winning design have been produced and were available for purchase. All proceeds go to Dubai Cares.

There were many amazing stalls at the Downtown Design, which were crowd pullers for sure. One such innovative installation was by Preciosa’s Breath of Light. It’s a playful and interactive installation made from a series of opal crystal bubbles that dissolve into crystal frosted, crystal clear, and crystal bubbled bubbles. The bubbles create an intriguing path of light as visitors contribute their breaths. Martin Fryzelka, managing director, Preciosa, said: “We are fortunate that we are working on some of the prominent projects in the region. We are finalising iconic projects like Mandarin Oriental in Jumeirah and one on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Our vision is to make installation, which connects the space and human element together. We are cultivating the chandeliers since 1724, we started with historical designs to contemporary styles, and now interactive installations, we are continuously pushing the boundaries of the industry to bring the value to our customers.”

Another interesting brand at Downtown Design was Emotional Objects. Their products are designed and manufactured with the sole purpose of making a connection with humans. On display were exciting range of products from coffee table, consoles, speakers, mirrors, and many more. Joao Faria, founder and architect, Emotional Objects, said: “We try to merge art and furniture and we want to conquer Dubai and neighbouring areas. Middle East is an important area for our brand and we want to establish our base slowly and steadily. People choose our brand for unique pieces and Dubai is a flourishing market and we have great connections here.”

In terms of sanitary, bathroom, and fittings, there were various options at the event as well. Ideal Standard showcased its Ceraline range along with other innovations. Frederick Trzcinski, marketing and innovation director at Ideal Standard, briefly explained the products. He said: “Bathroom is not just a functional area, it’s a living place. We are bringing compelling products at affordable prices with excellent quality. UAE is one of the biggest markets in the Middle East and there are mega projects happening in the region and we have a strong team to handle the business here. We are displaying the Strada II stylish and versatile ceramic range, Edge and Ceraline mixers, along with Ipalyss vessels and Idealrain Evo showers.”

Roca showcased the latest technologies at the event. Victor Schoone, country manager Middle East and South Asia, ROCA, said: “Dubai has been a hub for designers, architects, and developers. So, that’s why it’s a very important market for us. We are displaying various options within the Smart Toilets category, which stands out for their design, technology, innovation and sustainability and are presenting for the first time the new Carmen collection, which includes vintage-styled vitreous china, faucets and bathroom furniture, combining the best of the past and the present. Exclusivity, sophistication and elegance will be displayed in a space reserved to Armani/Roca, a luxurious and versatile bathroom collection that manages to be contemporary and timeless. In terms of projects, we’re doing Opera Grand, and are delivering our products to more than 1000 villas in Abu Dhabi.”

Clearly, both Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design brought together products, people, and projects, which had one thing in common—‘innovative design’, which is everlasting and impacting.