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What is Dubai Design week?
Dubai Design Week is the region’s largest design festival, and one of its most important cultural events. The free-to-attend programme brings together internationally acclaimed and emerging designers to exchange ideas, inspire audiences and present what can be achieved through design.
With more than 500 designers, architects and creative practitioners from over 40 countries due to attend, Dubai Design Week 2023 will feature thought-provoking installations, exhibitions, talks and workshops that explore the topics shaping today’s narratives: from traditional practices and emerging technologies to environmental sustainability and design-led social impact solutions.
What is Downtown Design?
The Middle East’s leading fair for contemporary and high-quality design, Downtown Design showcases the latest collections, innovative products and design solutions – complemented by a line-up of creative concepts and installations, experiences and industry events. Essentially, it’s the ultimate destination for those who want to know about latest trends in interior design, furniture, lighting and home accessories. Names on the slate this year include Apparatus, Cassina, Kartell, MillerKnoll, cc-tapis and Lasvit to mention a few, as well as Emirati talent Omar Al Gurg with his studio MODU, Lebanese talent Fadi Sarieddine and BEIT Collective, who will showcase pieces designed by Adam Nathaniel Furman, Akar de Nissim from Singapore and Edward Linacre from Melbourne.
What are the main locations to know?
The main hub is Dubai Design District (d3), shown here, where you can find outdoor installations, activations and exhibitions across the six days, whilst Downtown Design is located at the Waterfront Terrace in d3, where you can also attend industry talks at The Forum. At the weekend, Design Week hosts The Marketplace which brings together the best of local artisanal products, including fashion, jewellery, homeware, beauty and more.
What can I find at each location?
Downtown Design will host both internationally renowned design brands and manufacturers alongside individual designers, collectives and studios from around the world, with a spotlight on the region. Meanwhile, the Forum at Downtown Design will host a series of live talks, panel discussions and keynotes featuring regional and international thought-leaders, in an annually conceptualised amphitheatre setting by a local design studio, designed to promote interaction, connectivity and dialogue with unparalleled industry insights.
The Dubai Design Week Marketplace is then a weekend-long, outdoor, retail experience that will return to Dubai Design District (d3) from 11th-12th November and workshops at the Maker Space, also at Dubai Design District (d3), is a dedicated hosted programme which encourages the process of pursuing, practising and polishing a range of skills, including but not limited to graphic design, ceramics, architecture, filmmaking, printmaking, fashion, and sustainable material design to name a few.
What’s new this year?
The 2023 programme sees the return of Abwab, an annually remodelled feature of Dubai Design Week focusing on architecture across the region. This year it will take the form of a specially commissioned pavilion brought to life by Emirati designer Abdalla Al Mulla who explores the use of palm tree stands as a prime example of a sustainable resource.
Urban Commissions is a design competition that highlights the UAE’s design-conscious urban development calling for functional, outdoor furniture for the public domain, such as innovative street furniture or shading, selected by a jury panel of experts in the design field; both projects will be staged and unveiled at Dubai Design Week in November.
What are the highlights?
We have an array of globally renowned brands joining us this year, including Dedar, Cassina, Kartell, Lasvit and MillerKnoll, Poltrona Frau, and Apparatus, who I am personally a huge fan of. Huda Lighting are showcasing an immersive concept featuring some of the best brands in lighting, including Lodes, Bomma and Slamp, to name but a few, and Casa Milano’s ‘Talking Walls’ concept will be unveiled, which will be a really remarkable showcase, and Kohler is launching a new product line in a concept designed by Nada Debs. We also have a pop-up by Maison Assouline.
The Bowery Company is also making its debut at the fair with a selection of Danish brands (Audo Copenhagen, Ferm Living, Norr11, 101 Copenhagen) and a Dutch brand, FEST Amsterdam, whose founder, Femke Furnee, will be coming to the fair to participate in a panel discussion around accessibility and manufacturing collections, building a brand that breaks those boundaries.
Finally, I’m excited about the Turkish Anatolia showcase by the curators of Isola Design, which I think will provide a discovery experience for visitors; I know I am planning to shop there and we are working on something really special for the Veuve Clicquot Lounge this year, centred on the Cellar In The Sea programme.
What else are you personally looking forward to?
We always have creative talent from Saudi Arabia, but this year we have the pleasure of featuring a dedicated exhibition under the ‘designed in Saudi; badge. I’m personally excited to see the works of Dahr, who I’ve admired for a while, as well as Rejo Studio who have participated in Downtown Design before, and the showcase also includes pieces by Naid AlTabaai, Teeb, Atharna, Aura Living and Keramos Studio.
There are also a few smaller features I’m personally keen on; Aleeya from Pakistan, Mushy – a new platform in the UAE which will launch at the fair – and Beit Collective, which matches international designers with craftsmen in Lebanon. There are a number of people I am excited to have coming to the fair; it’s a long list really but names that stand out are Li Edelkoort, Nina Magon, Arthur Mamou-Mani, David/Nicolas, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Pilar Zieta, and Sebastian Herkner.
What is the best way to plan the week?
My recommendation would be to download the Dubai Design Week app where you'll be able to tailor your experience across the six days.
Can the workshop and talks be booked in advance?
Yes – our programme will be live on the Design Week app, which visitors can download.
Finally, what’s the best way to get around?
Everything in d3 is easily walkable and the way to get to d3 and around the city is by RTA Taxi, Careem or Uber. Parking in Dubai Design District is free for visitors. For public transport you can take the metro to Burj Khalifa/Downtown Dubai station, where there are shuttle buses that can take you to Dubai Design District.