Dubai Design Week: an incredibly diverse programme revealed

The world's creative communities are converging at d3 in a dazzling array of a pop-up culinary experiences, jewellery making and chocolate tasting, alongside a Global Grad Show of futuristic innovations and the Abwab Human Senses Pavilions.

‘Design speaks to every level of society, people who don’t know (it) but see it on an everyday basis, students and professionals’, says director Cyril Zammit at the launch of Dubai Design Week, in its dedicated district otherwise known as d3.

‘When you have the entire industry teaming up and showcasing what they do’, he continues, ‘suddenly Dubai becomes a point of convergence and before long Dubai Design Week will be an essential event in the global design calendar each October”.

Dubai Design Week: an incredibly diverse programme revealed
From food design to fine art, some of the world's most varied and innovative pieces will be on display throughout the week. Pictured: Duravit's Elegant Series

In its second year, it is the largest representation and collection of designers in the region doubling in size from 2015 with over 150 events across the city.

There are so many unmissable events that audiences will certainly benefit from doing their homework in advance. From a talk about creative healthcare at the American University of Dubai to chocolate tasting at Mirzam, Alserkal Avenue, pop-up culinary experiences at DRAK – Design Ras Al Khor, jewellery demonstrations at s*uce ROCKS and Little Designers workshops for children at BookMunch, the programme is incredibly diverse.

The main initiatives take place in d3, Dubai’s new design district and epicentre for the city’s creative communities. The octagonal house built to celebrate 25 years of Ikea in Dubai, and a shimmering, kaleidoscopic installation made of Swarovski crystals by Emirati artist Zeinab Al Hashimi, will make sure the interior atriums and outdoor spaces of the district will be transformed.

Abwab translates as ‘doors’ in Arabic, and returns with six pavilions showcasing some of the best regional talent. This year the pavilions focus on Algeria, Bahrain, India, Iraq, Palestine and the UAE under the central theme of the Human Senses.

Dubai Design Week: an incredibly diverse programme revealed
Kohler's Marrakesh on Camber Lavatory is a perfect example of the global designs and cross-cultural themes at Dubai Design Week

Iconic City: Cairo Now! City Incomplete is a multidisciplinary presentation of the current mood in Cairo (following on from Beirut in 2015) and its curator Mohamed Elshahed says he has gone underground to seek out the young designers.

‘Despite the lack of a marketplace or an infrastructure supporting creative industries, (these designers) turn the city’s trash into new products and revive fading traditions with a contemporary edge”. It feels the right time for such an investigation and to see it displayed in the raw, unfinished buildings in d3 will be quite something.

Dubai Design Week: an incredibly diverse programme revealed
Many of the pieces on display will help build towards a sustainable future, like NEO's Vegan rug by Rodrigo Vairinhos

Downtown Design is the commercial centerpiece of the week. Now in its fourth edition, the fair is a unique platform for trade professionals to access over 100 brands from 28 countries.

Fair director Rue Kothari talks of the exacting selection process, creating a delicate balance between iconic names and new discoveries while maintaining a manageable scale.

Downtown Design will again host ‘Destinations’, a chance to learn about design weeks in other cities, this year Addis Ababa, Barcelona, Beirut, Reykjavik and Taipei.

Dubai Design Week: an incredibly diverse programme revealed
Jotun's muted Washed Out Grey will be showing at Downtown Design, the week's commercial centrepiece

Yet more international visitors will be in town invited by the Global Grad Show, the world’s largest degree show of its kind, with 145 projects on display from 50 universities spanning 30 countries including nine from the region. Divided into three sections, design to ‘empower, to connect and to sustain’, this is the place to see the ideas that can shape our future. Solutions to sleeping at the airport, climbing sand dunes and social gaming for the elderly are offered up alongside serious developments in technology for assisting with surgeries, sheltered housing or energy-saving initiatives.

‘Why do we design?’ To make life a little bit easier, says Rawan Kashkoush, creative director of Abwab. “What is exciting is that design belongs to everybody, and Dubai is the place that can connect us all.’