6 Dubai Design Week Highlights

Design these days is well thought of but poorly understood,” writes Brendan McGetrick, curator of the Global Grad Show at the inaugural Dubai Design Week, in his foreword to the official guide.

“Most of us assume that a designer’s job is to make things beautiful, to elevate an ordinary object so that it sparkles. This assumption isn’t unfair but it misses something essential… a great design delivers both a diagnosis and a cure. It identifies an unseen opportunity or unexpressed need and suggests a solution.”

It is this underlying definition that Dubai Design Week seeks to showcase this week. Across six days and 13 different locations, design is celebrated from concept to conclusion with installations, seminars and workshops open to the general public.

Dubai would seem to be a natural place for such an event. There are probably few cities in the world that have been quite so conspicuously “designed”; whether it’s offshore islands, waterways, new neighbourhoods, transport systems or skyscrapers, turning a strip of desert coastline – in some ways the ultimate blank canvas – into a modern metropolis has required as much imagination as implementation.

Indeed, one of the focal points of Dubai Design Week is itself a product of deliberate design. The d3 Design District was officially opened in May this year to become a hub for regional creativity.

Brilliant Beirut
In the first in a new annual series of Iconic City exhibitions, Brilliant Beirut explores the creative side of the ever-dynamic Lebanese capital. Curated and conceptualised by designer Rana Salam, the exhibition documents the influence of the civil war on the city, as well as the transition to stability, the long-standing craft traditions and its ample production resources. It explores fields such as architecture, education, graphic design, fashion, furniture and cultural trends.
When: October 26-31, 9am-9pm
Where: Building 7, Dubai Design District

DIY Synth Workshop
This might be the most hipster hour of the week if it weren’t designed for children from 12 upwards. Only 20 places are up for grabs but the lucky few will get to build their own analogue synthesiser, learning how the various parts interact and combine to create a range of unique and wonderful noises. The workshop is run in partnership with UK’s “Tech Will Save Us” and will also come with a kit that you can keep. Participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
When: Friday, October 30, 3pm
Where: The Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District

The Ticking of Time
Not that we need to be reminded of the passing of time at ShortList, but this exhibition curated by Design Days Dubai fair director Cyril Zammit displays it in a number of intriguing ways. Highlights include works from Maarten Baas, Formafantasma, Humans Since 1982 or, our favourite, this Chrono-Shredder by Susanna Hertrich.
When: All week
Where: Emaar Pavilion

Seeking to consolidate its relationship with other design weeks around the world, Dubai Design Week has partnered with six others, namely those held in Beijing, Helsinki, Istanbul, Melbourne, Mexico City and San Francisco. In this wide-ranging exhibition, each city will present a collection of three young, innovative design brands that represent the spirit of the community to which they belong.
When: October 27-30 (public after 6pm)
Where: Downtown Design Tent, Dubai Design District

Al Fahidi District
Al Fahidi Historical District will be home to a series of interesting and occasionally challenging installations. Luz, for instance, by UAE-based Syrian architects Bahar and Sawsan Al Bahar, is a lamp that reinterprets the decorative muqarnas at Al Hambra in Spain. Also of note is Nervous Structure
by Annica Cuppetelli and Crisobal Mendoza. It is a sculpture of vertical cords illuminated by a computer projection, which moves with a viewer’s movements.
When: October 26-30
Where: Al Fahidi District

Doors of Perception
Six pavilions, six teams of designers from six countries and just one theme: games. The Abwab exhibition, taking place in the Dubai Design District (d3), provides visitors with a window into the design culture of the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Kuwait and Pakistan.
Each of the pavilions, which have been designed by Dubai-based studio Loci Architecture + Design, provides a completely different, culturally specific interpretation of what games mean to them, whether as a vehicle for leisure, escape, nostalgia, memory or commonality. In doing so, the Abwab pavilions demonstrate how design can transcend borders, communicate ideas and explore universal themes and experiences.
Although identical in size and shape, the pavilions are flexible in layout, which has allowed each country to adapt their space to suit the nature and atmosphere. Here, we look at how they have approached the subject.
Where: Dubai Design District
When: October 26–30, 9am–10pm, October 31, 9am-6pm

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