In its five years, the festival has become a key event in the global design calendar and the largest creative gathering in the Middle East.
Dubai Design Week 2019 took place welcoming over 90,000 visitors to be part of over 200 programmes and activities conducted by more than 560 participating designers who took part in the festival. Dubai Design District (d3) transformed entirely with installations, special exhibitions, awards, design workshops and a range of talks taking place throughout the week.
Amongst the many installations was one of the highlights; Abwab, meaning ‘doors’ in Arabic, which is an annually remodelled showcase, the theme for this year addressed “Ways of Learning”, and saw visitors interacting with large-scale physical interpretations in the form of three different country pavilions. The Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia, supported by Ithra, built an enormous stylized sand dune under a latticework of textiles symbolizing traditional weaving processes. Visitors climbed the dune, wandered through the patterns of light and shadow the installation created.
The Indian pavilion presented a field of hanging lamps for visitors to walk amongst connecting the stories that make up the country’s rich social fabric. The Lebanon pavilion explored the idea of political, social, and physical barriers with an interactive wall where visitors peeked into cut out spaces to peer onto the other side or sat on chunks cut from the wall itself.
In addition, another one of the most popular highlight featured 150 projects designed to have a positive impact on people and the planet, showcased at the most diverse edition of Global Grad Show to date. Graduate students from over 100 universities across 43 countries travelled to Dubai from institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Goldsmiths, alongside new entries from the Philippines, Columbia and Kuwait. Projects ranged from a home purifier that recycles 80 per cent of the water that would normally go down the drain, to a microscopic robot that takes the place of antibiotics.
Taking home the ICD Progress Prize this year at Global Grad Show was Poleno, a silent drone that helps to rebuild damaged ecosystems by stimulating pollination. Designed by Laura Cragnolini and Juan Jose Martinez Guerrero from Instituto Europeo di Design, Madrid, Poleno travels to the zones where pollination is lacking most, mimicking the way flowers attract insects.
Several other design prizes were awarded at Dubai Design Week, as well. The Audi Innovation Award, which honours innovative designs that offer the luxury of more time, “our most precious resource,” says Audi, was won by Pincher. The mechanical embodiment of “a pinch of salt,” Pincher releases the exact amount of seasoning as a pinch from between your own fingertips.
The Rado Star prize, from Swiss watchmaker Rado, was offered this year for the first time in the UAE and went to Dubai-based designer Aya Charife. Her design for an outdoor air conditioning system, called Takyeef, is a modular clay element that uses water and requires no electricity; it consists of modules that can be joined together, depending on the number needed for a particular area, resulting in a beautiful arabesque pattern while functioning as a sustainable air conditioner. The Rado prize supports young, emerging designers with an AED 20,000 prize.
A curated program of talks took place across Dubai Design District (d3) for the duration of Dubai Design Week, alongside a full series of workshops ranging from designer-led maker seminars for anyone interested in design to 3D digital modelling for interior design professionals.
Acclaimed designer Christian Louboutin talked about the sources of his inspiration as a designer, whilst architects designing the largest meeting place in the history of the Arab world, Expo2020 Dubai, discussed the gathering’s impact and the legacy it will have.
Families and children were invited to Making Space for workshops to thermoform their own prototype designs or make a Beijing opera mask. Meanwhile, Ooh La Lab hosted a fragrance design workshop, and SSH architects led a seminar on taking design inspiration from nature.
Pop-ups welcomed visitors, including the Merchant and Makers Market where they perused the creations of local designers, creatives and jewellers, and La Suite, which displayed a selection of preloved fashion articles and accessories at affordable prices.
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