Design can be used as a tool to influence and inform, with several collaborations over the past few editions of Dubai Design Week having been instrumental in changing perspectives around sustainability, waste and materiality through unique urban commissions and installations.

In collaboration with The Local Dimension during Dubai Design Week’s 2020 edition, Aectual Studios explored the possibilities of XL 3D printing, parametric design, and circularity in an exhibition featuring a product range of interior items; from planters, room dividers to even a life-size staircase that can evolve into each other over time. Titled ‘A World of 3D printed architectural products', participants were invited to explore the Worlds’ first platform for mass-customizable building products that offers sustainably 3D printed architecture and interior items, all made of recycled and renewable materials.

As part of an ongoing effort to transform public perception regarding waste and its potential for reuse, designer and architect Ammar Kalo collaborated with Sharjah-based environmental agency Bee’ah in 2018 to bring After Pressure, a project that used up-cylces aluminum extrusion bales to create a unique communal table which went on display in the heart of d3 during the festival. The Aluminum logs, which were originally headed to the furnace for melting, were shaped, sliced and painted in sets of three, and up-cycled to form aluminum extrusion bales, which reveal moments of organic beauty in the compressed bricks.

Another Bee’ah collaboration is Fahed + Architects’ Abwab pavilion in 2017, constructed using recycled materials from the environmental agency to showcase creativity through various domains of art. The structure, made using 1,100 coil springs collected from old bed mattresses, housed 42 exhibited designs by top artists from the Middle East, North Africa & South Asia, celebrating the shape and character of the material by retaining and representing it in its purest form.

The pavilion highlighted the concept of sustainability, with all materials used in its development 100% recyclable. The core materials used are the bed springs – which were sprayed finished to protect from corrosion – recycled tyres and crushed fine aggregates. At the end of the exhibition all the materials went back to Be’eah yard for recycling.