Here’s your definitive guide to the third edition of this citywide celebration of design and the creative spirit that is on till 18th November.


Dubai Design Week’s unique showcase of new design: with more than 200 projects from around the world, Global Grad Show provides an un-paralleled view of important and ground-breaking projects, providing a first glimpse of technologies and ideas that will shape our future. Curated by renowned author and designer Brendan McGetrick, the selected entries emphasise four categories: innovation that transcends technology and exists independent of wealth; equality without hierarchy among universities, regions and designers; universal design open to all types of projects; and impact on the world at large through solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.


This year’s iteration of this regional design showcase will be housed in an extraordinary structure. Designed by Dubai-based multidisciplinary architectural firm Fahed + Architects, the pavilion is constructed from bedsprings sourced from the Sharjah-based waste management company bee’ah. Strong, but light in character, this mound of bedsprings will be supported by a series of interconnected posts to form a cloud of mesh. Set against a large mass of buildings within the d3 corridors, the structure’s silhouette will be reminiscent of impetuous ocean waves, coral clusters in a reef and clouds in the sky, referencing the practice’s environmental commitment. Containing more than 40 design pieces from 15 countries, this exhibition is a must-see to experience the best of the regions’ growing design talent across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.


From archival postcards, to a contemporary sound installation and graphic design tracks down the creative heartbeat of Casablanca. The third edition of Iconic City provides a poetic journey into the design scene within the North African City, influenced by the past yet very much a contemporary snapshot. Following the country’s independence in 1956, the city saw an inverse polarity in which the centre lost its status both as the historic heart of the city and its decisional power. Displacement became the means for Casablanca to reinvent itself and draw resilience. Curated by Salma Lahlou with research assistance by Omar Mrani.


GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years and Beyond

With a retrospective look at the growth and development of graphic design over five decades, the Royal College of Art (RCA) brings its showcase of work from graduates that shines a bright light on the advancement in the field over the past 50 years of graphics at the world’s leading graduate design college. This year, Dubai Design Week provides a wealth of experiences and opportunities; not least access to world-class designers and ideas. This is best brought home by the series of six RCA courses that are being staged on interior, product and information design. The subjects of the courses, the quality of the teaching and insight is exceptional.


Running for the first time this Dubai Design Week, the Super Design Market will allow visitors to purchase leading design products from companies with limited retail presence in Dubai. Offering high-quality retail experience featuring a carefully blended range of brands, the market will also feature limited-edition collections by regional designers. D3-based designer Pallavi Dean debuts a collection of sketchbooks aimed at those who are digital doers, but analogue thinkers. The pad comes with a mesh bag at the back to carry the tools of the trade: pencil, rubber, business cards and maybe even a phone.


Paula Zuccotti is an acclaimed design expert, artist, future archaeologist and photographic novelist who views brands, products, and services through the lens of trends, ethnography, research, strategy, design and art. Staged for Dubai Design Week, Everything We Touch is a beautifully simple but highly insightful exhibition. Zucotti, explores different cultures using everyday artefacts as storytellers; the exhibition will see a cast of characters from across Dubai reveal the objects they use and treasure in a normal day. This unique showcase explores where design really matters — the connection between designed objects and their user.


Prologue is a monumental, free-standing sculpture weighing 1.2 tonnes and holding more than 8,000 amber-coloured Swarovski crystal droplets within its 4 metre-diameter, patinated steel frame. The luminous ring mimics the golden sun and its endless circle represents new beginnings, life and rebirth. Designed by Fredrikson Stallard — Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard began working together in 1995 and are recognised today as leading exponents of avant-garde design — it explore ways of playing with contrasts. A simple, round shape and the shimmering luminosity of precisely cut crystal creates a monumental lens that belies its small, individual parts.


After a resounding success at Abwab last year, Palestinian-duo Elias and Yousuf Anastas return to Dubai Design Week showcasing While We Wait. A partnership with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, this meditative structure will appear at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue. The installation is comprised of pieces of stone quarried in various regions of Palestine, which fit together to form a large, lattice-like, self-supporting structure. The changing colour of the stones represent the different Palestinian regions that contribute to the installation; in addition to offering a meditative space, the work becomes a commentary on the country’s landscape, a lot of which stands drastically altered due to the ongoing strife.


In times when certain global leaders want to brush global warming under the fake news carpet, it becomes even more critical that we address the state of the planet more vociferously. Eschewing obvious or cliched interpretations, State of Earth inspires change at the subconscious level.  AR Gallery invited Dubai-based designer and acclaimed design journalist Pratyush Sarup (our editor!) to curate State of Earth. As someone who has celebrated and mentored the regional design community for over a decade, he has assembled a diverse selection of designers, all of who are known to explore nature, landscape and artisanal culture through their works.  The featured designers include Anna Szonyi, Apical Reform, Cecilia Setterdahl, Hamza Omari, Hybridart, Nadine Kanso and Michael Rice.


Trend watch- All that glittersThe fair takes a curatorial approach to the visitor experience with the regional buyer in mind, selecting a mix of leading, established brands that need a strategic gateway to the region, as well as high quality emerging brands exhibiting on an international platform for the first time. The fifth edition of the fair brings together over 150 brands from 25 countries. Visitors will discover a rich diversity of contemporary design from iconic international brands through to unique pieces by designers featured for the very first time on the international design circuit.

Downtown Design reaffirms its position as a fair of discovery this year with the return of the ICE pavilion which will presents emerging design brands. As part of Dubai Design Week’s programme, each day of the fair will feature a series of industry talks and panel discussions targeted specifically at the region’s architecture and design community. Covering a wide range of industry topics including colour trends, spatial experience, product innovation and Dubai’s evolving architectural landscape, the programme will share knowledge and insight on the region’s continually changing world of design.



Dubai Design Week is made up of a programme of over 200 events, staged in venues across the city. The full programme is available here and the search function allows you to find activity by date, area and design discipline. 

A version of this article originally appeared in Gulf News.

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