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In its ninth edition, Dubai Design Week 2023 highlights design thinking and sustainability
Dubai Design Week returns with its ninth iteration, focusing on sustainability and innovative practices in design and architecture
Image: Courtesy of Dubai Design Week

In its ninth edition, Dubai Design Week 2023 highlights design thinking and sustainability

Taking place from November 7 -12, 2023, the design festival focuses on emerging designers and practices dedicated to sustainability, through large-scale installations and exhibitions.

by Mrinmayee Bhoot
Published on : Nov 11, 2023

This year’s Dubai Design Week—in its ninth edition—builds on the themes of UAE’s 'Year of Sustainability.' With over 500 designers contributing and visiting the week-long design festival, its programme comprises exhibitions, installations, talks, workshops, and markets. It is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council, in strategic partnership with Dubai Design District, a member of TECOM Group PJSC, and supported by Dubai Culture.

Returning to its home in Dubai Design District (d3), this year, apart from exhibits and designer showcases, venues in the district will include large-scale installations and public interventions. The installations highlight how design can foster a thriving planet by reclaiming and reinterpreting materials of our past while reimagining new forms that foster sustainable practices. Some of the materials that exhibitors have dealt with include everything from palm leaves and paper pulp to loofah and sugar. As Natasha Carella, Programming Director for Dubai Design Week, explains: “this year’s Dubai Design Week has evolved into the most innovative edition of the festival to date. We aim to foster a dialogue around sustainability through engaging and thought-provoking initiatives, and focus attention on how different practices can converge to look at sustainability, which we see as pivotal for the future of the design industry.”

The programme is intended to raise awareness about the latest innovations and products in the design industry, not just within the community but also the general public. It is acclaimed to be the Middle East’s leading fair for contemporary design, as stated in their press release. The design event includes a variety of disciplines in its lineup: interior design, furniture design, lighting, as well as home accessories studios, with each studio and designer adding their unique voice to the faceted tapestry.

A recent addition to the design fair are installations by designers which include a 3D-printed architectural pavilion by Mamou-Mani Architects in collaboration with Therme Group; a prototype of traditional shelter forms with sustainable cement alternatives by architects Wael Al Awar and Kazuma Yamao of waiwai; and others all focused on showcasing an alternative to conventional means and production of construction and design.

The annual UAE Designer Exhibition, curated by Fatma Al Mahmoud and supported by Dubai Culture, will once again highlight works from new and emerging UAE-based designers, while the Royal College of Art, London will put up a showcase of projects that explore themes of sustainability and emerging technologies linked to textiles, healthcare, infrastructure, and the rehabilitation of environments. This year, the lineup of speakers include creatives such as British designer Adam Nathaniel Furman; French architect Daniel Bismut; and Italian architect Massimo Adario. The keynote address will be presented by Lidewij Edelkoort, a world-famous trend forecaster.

Committed to innovation, supporting local talent and critically looking at the future of design, all editions of Dubai Design Week have been instrumental in shaping Dubai's identity as a thriving centre for design and creativity in the Middle East. STIR presents some of the most thought-provoking installations and exhibitions that highlight the goals and themes of this year’s edition, showcasing material innovation and sustainable designs, the importance of socio-cultural collaborations, and the relevance of indigenous practices in our current design landscape. The different projects offer visitors myriad ways to start thinking about the many realms that design inhabits, and how we can do better.

Flowing Threads by Areen Hassan

A textile-based installation by Palestinian textile designer Areen Hassan reveals the inter-connectedness of humanity, through layers of fabric that follow the movement of the wind. Meticulously crafted, the fabric itself is a metaphor for an individual’s existence, with the striking contrast of colour and transparency against the muted solidness of its surroundings creating a gradation of reflections. Through the work, Hassan asks visitors to contemplate the nature of transparency and adaptability in life.

The Future will be Sown by Made in Earth

India-based designers’ Made in Earth Collective’s ‘The Future Will Be Sown’ is an immersive installation that calls for a transformative shift in humanity’s relationship with the environment. Made entirely from loofah—an ordinary agricultural by-product from Southern India—it urges the audience to foster respect for nature as well as indigenous communities, by weaving together a regenerative future through sustainable materials.

Altostrata - Therme pavilion by Arthur Mamou-Mani and Fab.Pub

This large-scale architectural pavilion designed by Arthur Mamou Mani in collaboration with Therme Group, is built entirely from fermented sugar. Using cutting-edge 3D printing technology by Fab.Pub, it offers a way to reconsider how we approach construction, with panels built in a manner to minimise waste and offer a flexible design.

ABWAB: of Palm by Abdalla Almulla

This year’s ABWAB, an annual key feature of DDW that highlights regional design talent, has been commissioned to Emirati architect and founder of MULA design studio, Abdalla Almulla. Almulla will create an architectural pavilion centred around sustainable materiality, with the indigenous palm tree becoming the source of his inspiration. The interiors and design objects are all derived from the palm tree and brought to life with talks and workshops inspired by this organic material.

Naseej by AlZaina Lootah and Sahil Rattha Singh

Naseej is a wooden pavilion designed by Emirati architect AlZaina Lootah and Indian architect Sahil Rattha Singh. Supported by Dubai Culture, it is designed specifically as a contemplation space. It will provide a sanctuary for introspection and peace, with the unique structure drawing inspiration from Emirati traditional weaving patterns and the elegant geometry of palm tree leaves.

Arabi-an Tea House by Mitsubishi Jisho Design

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Jisho Design will present ‘Arabi-An’, an iteration of which was previously shown at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. The teahouse is constructed from food-waste-based materials, including tea grains and grapes, and is based on the Miura method of Origami. 'Arabi-an' honours the art of tea as a symbol of human connections, fostering renewed intercultural dialogues. The space will also host tea ceremonies at specific periods throughout the week.

Dubai Design Week returns to Dubai Design District (d3) for its ninth edition from November 7 - 12, 2023.

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