Design – Dubai Design Week 2021, the Gulf’s largest and most influential creative festival, kicked off with over 250 free-to-attend events and exhibitions and a rich program of exhibitions and talks. In the wake of the pandemic emergency, new energy thrives through the city’s veins and streets, not only for the recently inaugurated World Expo. Check the best exhibitions and installations on show.
Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: “This seventh edition goes beyond presenting aesthetic and practical designs, but also design solutions to complex global challenges, with the potential to enhance our day to day lives and even our future.”
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Downtown Design is Middle East’s leading fair for original and high-quality design, showcasing over 150 international and regional exhibiting brands and designers from over 20 countries. Downtown Editions, the fair’s boutique section dedicated to limited-edition and bespoke design, uncovers the latest in design by individual designers, studios and creative collaborations with a spotlight on the region, such as the works of four designers selected for the 2021 Tanween Programme by Tashkeel.
Abwab, the word for ‘gate’ in Arabic, is the platform for regional design talent. This year, Dubai-based architect Ahmed El-Sharabassy presents Nature in Motion, an undulating design concept that references the Dubai desert’s constant motion, emulating the city’s continual evolution. The architectural pavilion will host an exhibition titled Pulp Fusion around the human impact on the planet, curated and produced by Bits to Atoms.
All major public installations are located in Dubai Design District (d3). Here, Beirut-based architecture and research firm Bits to Atoms has created the Yowalah interactive urban intervention to reclaim the public spaces where people can be reunited. Inspired by and named after the traditional Emirati dance, Yowalah, the structure can be configured to propose sports, leisure and gardening activities for all age groups. The installation is made of recycled polycarbonate elements used to form a continuous curved spatial beam, standing on thin steel pillars.
Context Reflections by ANARCHITECT, in collaboration with surface material brand Cosentino invites visitors to discover the intriguing play of penetrated light created via a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in a low-tech installation using carbon-neutral materials.
Mena Grad Show
Showcasing social impact innovation projects in the fields of science, design, technology and architecture by students from universities in the region, MENA Grad Show returns in its second edition, featuring 60 ideas and solutions by 78 students from 29 universities across ten countries from the region. This year’s projects include a solar-powered robot built to plant seeds in desert areas, a device to produce organic super-food at home, an app to organize the routine of dementia patients and magnetic skin to allow people with quadriplegia to control their surroundings.
The Shape of Light
The Shape of Light by conceptual art studio Shuster + Moseley explores geometric prismatic forms through a large-scale, specially commissioned glass installation of antiprisms. Each unique form is an extrapolation of an Archimedean solid, constructed from clear optical glass panes that reflected and refracted a unique optical fingerprint of the surroundings. The works are suggestive of boulders resting in the landscape, like future relics of our contemporary techno-scene.
Connectivity by interior architect Mustafa Kamash, managing director of Kart Group, is an outdoor installation resembling an outstanding 3D spirograph. A spectrum of colorful recycled ropes weaves 3D surfaces intersecting at the center of a round metal structure to create a vibrant explosion of colours. The installation highlights the significance and beauty of social connections while celebrating the diversity of Dubai.
The Plume by Mohammad Mazen, a student at Ajman University College of Architecture, Art and Design, is inspired by migratory birds reflecting the educational journey and is built using recycled aluminium and acrylic materials. The monochromic color scheme of shades of blue is inspired by the Heron bird and represents the color of the sea associated with the city of Ajman in the UAE.
RCU, the Royal Commission for AlUla, presents the AlUla Design immersive exhibition highlighting the diversity of projects shaping the emerging design city in Saudi Arabia. Masterplans and architecture and designs by Jean Nouvel and other world-leading architects and designers reveal the development of early planning principles, research approaches and both realized and future projects.
2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition
The 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition brings together leading architectural firms and visionary architects practicing in the UAE and the MENA region, envisioning the city’s future following the goals of The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan for sustainable urban development.
- All photos: courtesy of Dubai Design Week 2021 – Unless stated otherwise.