Design Days Dubai 2017 – Highlights

The sixth editon of the region’s only fair dedicated to museum quality, collectable design features over 50 regional and international galleries, presenting the finest of contemporary and modern works. As the fair opens to public today, Aljoud Lootah, the first solo-show designer at Design Days Dubai underscores the wider role of the fair.

Aljoud presents Tebr, a collection of precious tableware inspired by the details of antique doors at the royal palace in Al Ain

New York based gallery Todd Merrill makes it’s Dubai debut with contemporary works by designers such as Niamh Barry (above), Molly Hatch (below)

This year marks my third year partaking in Design Days Dubai as a solo designer. Every year that has passed was a learning curve for myself. Since my first showcase of the Unfolding Unity Stool in 2013 at the Tashkeel & Dubai Culture’s joint stand, I’ve grown immensely. There were a lot of ups and downs, challenges to overcome and lessons to be learned (always the hard way, might I add!), but the consistent aspect remained the same; my will to keep going & grow.

Fredrikson Stallard present Species III as part of the Britain Takes Shape segment curated by Suzanne Trocmé

Brodie Neill’s Remix – also part of Britain Takes Shape

Bethan Gray explores Omani architecture with a collection co-authored by the artist Mohammad Reza Shamsian (also at Britain Takes Shape)

Round and Round mirror by Kim Thome as part of the British contingent

Some of these challenges, several years ago, were a result of being in a raw market/region as many Middle Eastern designers are aware, where the buyers solely focused on buying imported products. Competing with International brands is challenging as they cater to a mass audience. I had to find my niche, my design aesthetic and pave my path with that in mind. My interest remains to produce more accessible products, but I decided to start with working on showcasing my capabilities through limited edition designs. 

MB&F M.A.D. Gallery presents Damien Beneteau’s Optical Variations

Dubai based ceramic artist Michael Rice presents sculptures informed by scale, texture and movement

Naqsh Collective from Jordan presents the engraved Shawl artwork

2014 was my year of reckoning, having established my previous company Niftee, it was time to regroup and reprioritize my energy into establishing my design studio. This was a huge decision, any success or failure is directly attributed to my name. I planted my feet firmly in the ground and took the step forward. Cyril Zammit, has been and remains a strong support system, who believed in my talent and gave me the opportunity to present my work among leading internationally-known design galleries.

Luna Bookcase by Wajih & Omar Nakkash of Nakkash Gallery marks the first collaboration between the father and son.

Shamsa Alabbar elaborates on her Token collection with adaptable elements in pearl and diamonds.

Fin chandelier by Nader Gammas

As a young  studio, being placed between reputable design dealers was a proud moment and the pressure was on to prove myself and my capabilities. I look back and am grateful to Cyril for guiding me and introducing me to key collectors, one of them being the trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria. The museum has acquired two pieces of the Oru series as part of their permanent collection; which is a first for an Emirati designer and a proud moment and a positive testament to the career I ventured into. 

Aperçu Designs from Jordan present Pompeii

Juli Bolanos-Durman’s glass works at Crafts Council

From 2012, the inception of the fair, through Cyril’s primary efforts, Dubai and Design Days Dubai (DDD) has become a launching platform for UAE-based and regional designers. The fair created a curiosity amongst a young and mature audience. DDD has given us creatives a foot into an international scene. This presented the opportunities of meeting journalists, collectors and museum/foundation trustees all within one place during the busiest week of the year, Art Week. I have personally witnessed collaborations between reputed galleries from Europe and Asia. Brands recognised local talent, picked them up and propelled their careers even further. 

All of these opportunities have taken a lot of hard work and the correct connections and resulted in a successful fair such as Design Days Dubai.”

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