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Bespoke design and multi-sensorial pop-ups headline Downtown Design 2022
‘IOTA’ entrance feature by Lebanese design-duo Karim Tamerji and Elias El Hage
Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design
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Bespoke design and multi-sensorial pop-ups headline Downtown Design 2022

A key event of the Dubai Design Week line up, the pre-eminent design fair opens doors to a global audience with its largest edition yet.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Nov 10, 2022

Dubai Design Week, Middle East’s highly anticipated design festival, reflects Dubai’s position as the design capital of the Middle East and annunciates its cultural presence in the global design landscape. Held in strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), the prominent design event provides a window to the region’s design evolution through exhibitions, installations, competitions, talks, and workshops across creative disciplines. A member of TECOM Group PJSC, and supported by Dubai Culture, Downtown Design—the region’s leading design fair—returns to UAE’s animated metropolis, Dubai, from November 9 to November 12, 2022. The ninth iteration of this key commercial event of the design week, is taking place at its home on the Waterfront Terrace at d3—a regional hub for art, design, fashion, and architecture. “This year, we set a precedent for Dubai’s ever-growing design and architecture community. Drawing on contemporary designs with international and regional industry leaders, we look forward to yet again providing a platform for exceptional talent,” says Mette Degn-Christensen, Director of Downtown Design.

Downtown Design 2019
Downtown Design 2019 Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design
Visitors at (entrance) Downtown Design 2018
Visitors at (entrance) Downtown Design 2018 Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

Downtown Design 2022 materialises as an experience that surpasses the fair’s previous editions, nodding to Dubai’s ever-growing economy and its influence on the region’s blossoming design industry. The fair unfolds as a showcase of excellence, with globally renowned brands and country-specific presentations from manufacturers, studios, and individual designers. Downtown Design 2022 attracts a wide segment of audiences traversing design communities and industries, including architects and interior designers, developers and hospitality operators, collectors, and design enthusiasts. “With its status as a UNESCO Creative City of Design, Dubai’s profile and role in the global design sector continues to go from strength to strength. Much-anticipated events like Downtown Design certainly play a fundamental role in elevating this profile and showcasing the wealth of creative talent in our district and the wider region,” comments Khadija Al Bastaki, Vice President of Dubai Design District (d3).

Welcoming International Brands and Studios

Over 200 brands, manufacturers, and international designers from over 30 countries, including national presentations from France, Italy, and Spain are featuring at the fair showcases. The fair welcomes brands such as Poliform by Obegi Home, showcasing its contemporary designs with inimitable Italian style; Natuzzi, a global pioneer in upholstered leather furniture and Lasvit, featuring bespoke pieces in collaboration with internationally renowned duo Yabu Pushelberg; Jaipur Rugs, with their new range of colourful, eccentric handmade rugs; and RSP, a global multidisciplinary design group joining forces with Cosentino, a leading architectural surfaces brand to create KASA, a bold design installation that alludes to the need for responsible design.

Jaipur rugs at Downtown Design 2022
Jaipur rugs at Downtown Design 2022 Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

Visitors also get an opportunity to discover a range of presentations and collaborations by seminal designers such as Studio Nada Debs presenting a showcase in celebration of craftsmanship on occasion of their 20-year anniversary; cc-tapis by Iwan Maktabi premiering Duccio Maria Gambi’s latest collection globally; VitrA in collaboration with British designer Tom Dixon showcasing its exemplary bathroom experiences; RAK Ceramics in partnership with Elie Saab with its latest collection; and an innovative workspace design concept under the guidance of Patricia Urquiola presented by Haworth, among others.

Anne Jacquemin Sablon and Tristan Auer at Downtown Design 2022
Anne Jacquemin Sablon and Tristan Auer at Downtown Design 2022 Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design
Pebble table by Nada Debs
Pebble table by Nada Debs Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

Downtown Editions

Downtown Editions is the fair’s boutique section that spotlights limited-edition and bespoke design, bringing together the latest in design by individual designers, studios, and creative collaborations. The section accentuates contributions of the native region and features an assortment of collective showcases, representing participants from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Uganda. Downtown Editions serves as a crucial platform for designers to gain visibility and establish their presence in front of international and regional buyers and collectors. Some of the key exhibitors of the section include—Lebanon’s non-profit gallery House of Today, presenting works by Stephanie Moussallem and Roula Salamoun, Dubai-based gallery Collectional showcasing an ensemble of pieces by Apparatus Studio, Collection Particuliere, and Michael Anastassiades, and UAE-based Khawla Art and Culture Foundation with a selection of local artists’ interpretations of a functional vase.

Budapest Select at Downtown Design 2021
Budapest Select at Downtown Design 2021 Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

The Forum

Turning the spotlight on a series of enticing live interviews and panel discussions, The Forum at Downtown Design, supported by Aritco, is hosting regional and international scholars, architects, interior designers, and key industry profiles. Speakers share their insights on compelling industry topics, with talks and panels taking centre stage each afternoon. This year’s programme welcomes high-profile international speakers including the renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen CBE, Florence-based designer Duccio Maria Gambi, Kuwaiti architect Jassim Al Saddah and Carl Gerges, in an open theatre—created by Collectus Studio—composed to foster interaction and engagement.

The Forum at Downtown Design 2019
The Forum at Downtown Design 2019 Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

Installations and Pop-ups

Immersive installations emerge as pivotal attractions at Downtown Design 2022. A large-scale installation titled ‘IOTA,’ handmade from rammed earth using sand from UAE by Lebanese design-duo Karim Tamerji and Elias El Hage adorns the entrance; Montreal-based Studio Iregular unveils a large-scale installation ‘Control no control,’ sponsored by Kohler; and Dubai-based designer Kapil Bhimekar presents his first 3D artwork titled ‘I Hear You’ using his surrounding elements to strengthen the connection between his work and the environment.

‘IOTA’ is handmade from rammed earth using sand from the UAE
‘IOTA’ is handmade from rammed earth using sand from the UAE Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

The pop-up by Sharjah Architecture Triennale dubbed ‘Re-Store,’ is an opportunity to explore a selection of functional upcycled designs made by local and regional designers. TRAME Paris offers access to affordable, limited-edition works by some of the most sought-after designers such as Arthur Mamou-Mani and Amandine David. Isola Design reiterates their commitment to innovation and sustainability with a pop-up exhibition of singular pieces that draw inspiration from architecture and craftsmanship. This year’s fair calls attention to sublime experiences, from the ‘Solaire Lounge’ by Veuve Clicquot, a vivid multisensory pop-up concept commemorating 250 years of the Maison to ‘The Cafe’ by The Lighthouse, a social biodome constructed using materials from reusable and recyclable sources, designed by UAE-based design studio Aswad Design.

‘‘IOTA’ is handmade from rammed earth using sand from the UAE
‘IOTA’ is handmade from rammed earth using sand from the UAE Image: Courtesy of Downtown Design

“Through this pioneering exhibition, we are providing an ideal platform to embrace the creativity of our designers and highlight their work and creatively present it to global audiences, especially as the exhibition includes a special platform to showcase the creative designs of Emirati and UAE-based talents, which we are proud of and always committed to supporting,” remarks Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature Sector at Dubai Culture, affirming prominence of the design fair within Dubai Design Week. Despite an unmistakable international influence, Downtown Design is rooted in the design and creativity of the Middle East. This foundation is evident in showcases from galleries, studios, and collectives of the region that place emphasis on handcrafted and sustainable design. Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and Member of Dubai Council, Downtown Design 2022 is a reflection of Dubai’s cosmopolitan soul, nurturing commercial opportunities, and fostering cross-cultural pollination and dialogue.

Downtown Design’s ninth iteration is taking place on the Waterfront Terrace of the Dubai Design District from November 9 to November 12, 2022, during Dubai Design Week 2022.

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