Arts & Culture

Dubai Design Week 2020 is now open.

The sixth edition of Dubai Design Week presents a diverse programme of more than 150 events and activities in d3 and across the city.

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, 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 include 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).

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 more than 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 will feature 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), who will explore the emerging design values as a result of the pandemic.

The Dubai Design Week Marketplace will take place during the weekend of 13 to 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 provide visitors with the opportunity 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. 

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 ARM 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 and 14 November offers activities for all the family in d3 and children of all skill levels from the ages of five 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.

GO: Visit for more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As the editor-in-chief for one of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publications, David Tapley is a self-proclaimed Hip-Hop aficionado, championing all things, food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the UAE and KSA.

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