The Forum at Downtown Design hosted a series of compelling live interviews and discussions between leading regional and international architects, interior and product designers on each afternoon of the fair.

Staged in an amphitheatre specially designed to promote interaction and engagement by ema, topics ranged from changing industry dynamics, behaviours and opportunities to how architecture and design can truly embody authenticity and place, and from implementing sustainability in the real world with real clients to authentic placemaking and the future of Middle Eastern cities.

Speakers included:

  • George Arvanitis, Director of Masterplanning & Urbanism, RMJM
  • Jonathan Ashmore, Founder & Principal Architect, ANARCHITECT
  • Neydine Bak, Co-Founder, Verhaal
  • Elliott Barnes, Founder, Elliott BarnesInteriors
  • Laura Bielecki, Group Design Director, Ellington
  • Caroline Bos, Co-Founder & Principal Urban Planner, UNStudio
  • Micael Calatrava, CEO, Calatrava International LLC
  • Carlotta de Bevilacqua, President & CEO, Artemide
  • Pallavi Dean, Founder & Creative Director, Roar
  • Duncan Denley, Founder & MD, desert INK
  • Phillippe Fouché, Director, SAOTA
  • Rock Galpin, Founder & Design Director, Rock Galpin Studio
  • Adrien Gardère, Designer, Museographer, Founder & CEO, Studio Adrien Gardère
  • Gregory Gatserelia, Owner, Gatserelia Design
  • Elena Gregorutti, Partner, NIU Studio
  • Sebastian Herkner, Founder, Studio Sebastian Herkner
  • Rayana Hossain, Founder & MD, ISHO
  • Massimo Iosa Ghini, Founder, Iosa Ghini Associati
  • Rasheed Kamel, Owner, Le LAB
  • Lorenzo Lotesto, Managing Director, Fantini Mosaici
  • Rob McIntosh, Founder, McIntosh
  • Christian Merieau, Founding Partner, MMAC Design Associates
  • Lee Nellis, Managing Director, XBD Collective
  • Giorgio Palermo, Founder, NIU Studio
  • Jean Paul, CEO, Le French Design
  • Isabel Pintado, SVP Design & Innovation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • Julia Rapp, Managing Director, RDAI
  • Juan Roldán, Associate Professor, College of Architecture, Art & Design, American University of Sharjah
  • Robert Shakespeare, Group Design Director, Cracknell
  • Andy Shaw, Managing Partner, AMA and Chair, RIBA Gulf Chapter
  • Diane Thorsen, Design Director, Gensler
  • Cyril Zammit, Design Advisor & Consultant, Cyril Zammit Design Consultancy

To see the full programme of talks, please visit