Downtown Design 2017

28 Aug , 2017  

Now in it’s fifth year running, Downtown Design is preparing to once again introduce cutting edge and original, top quality brands and concepts to the design industry in the Middle East. Hosted by the Dubai Design District from 14 to 17 November 2017, Downtown Design is set to bring together key regional decision-makers, business partners and international design companies to examine market trends and to strengthen trade in the region.

Studio Italia Design

Partnering with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the fair promises to offer a carefully curated roster of established and emerging brands across a range of product categories that include furniture, lighting, bathroom, kitchen, textiles and accessories.  Downtown Design seeks to draw together the collective talent of the region’s architecture+design community to enable networking, collaboration and learning opportunities. The incoming demographic of visitors will be treated to a cornucopia of new and inspiring products and technologies related to the architecture and interiors industry.

Not just any other design fair

Backed by a wealth of experience and expertise, the Downtown Design team is headed by Rue Kothari (Fair Director), Ramya Chidambaran (Special Projects Manager), and Kelly King (Fair Manager). According to Rue, “the overarching aim of Downtown Design boils down to fostering greater and more meaningful interaction, connectivity as well as commercial opportunity.” She points out that Downtown Design is dedicated to providing a dynamic environment wherein buyers and brands can do business easily and efficiently.

L'Objet Tulum

It’s also a space where it becomes possible to initiate constructive debates and conversations on issue that commonly plague the design community, including regional cultural influences and practices that pose challenges to the design process. Furthering her point, Rue points out that so many spaces are designed without thought for the human psyche, how it would feel to live or work in a space, or how it would feel to eat in a restaurant or walk down a street. While such thoughts and considerations become the norm with time and eventual maturing of the marketing, it will eventually create the extra layers that contribute to a liveable city; Rue truly believes it is the role of events the likes of Downtown Design to encourage collaboration and interaction amongst industry influencers. For Rue, curating Downtown Design is a real labour of love. “We get so many submissions to participate, so the challenge is to find the right balance between established and emerging brands, high quality over superlative, and a strong mix of innovative design and relevant commercial pieces to satisfy all our discerning buyers.”

Comparing Dubai to London, her hometown, Rue underlines how unique Dubai is in terms of what it represents to designers and architects, and how important it is to cater for the needs of such a rapidly changing city. “While London is an incredible, creatively dense and vibrant city, I find that Dubai has an unstoppable drive for success, a crystal clear vision and a ‘can do’ attitude. You have access to so many opportunities that are harder to come by in the United Kingdom. Things move at a heady velocity which means you can achieve an incredible amount in just one year. The only challenge is being able to stop for a moment and appreciate it.”

Placing Dubai on the global design canvas

Expanding on Rue’s thoughts, Ramya adds that designers and architects in the UAE are trying hard to push boundaries and produce design that translates into what she feels can only be described as design unique to this region. She sees the design community working hard to develop a unique narrative throughout the city and country, therefore creating a real design destination in the Middle East. And this is exactly where Downtown Design steps up to the plate.

Ahmed Bazazo

As Ramya points out, the UAE is fortunate to have designers from diverse backgrounds that bring rich knowledge, an adapted culture and varying levels of expertise to their design. “Designers and architects borrow experiences and transform them into design that is global yet local. By this I mean they keep tabs on every aspect of international design trends but integrate it with a sense of local culture, either with the use of locally produced materials, pieces designed by local designers or artists.” Citing the Rove Hotels as an example, and she describes the hotels as clean and contemporary yet heavily influenced by the culture of the UAE. She believes the real struggle in the region is finding traditional skilled craftsmen who can help decode design vision.

Keeping its proverbial finger on the pulse of a lively and constantly evolving Dubai, Downtown Design has a clear vision in place, and have armed themselves to implement this through their Buyers’ Programme. It’s positioned as a key platform for pre-qualified trade professionals to discover new brands alongside some of the world’s most established ones, while offering the opportunity for members of the industry to learn from one another and for peer-to-peer networking to take place. As Ramya puts it, the programme runs through the year with buyers enjoying a significant range of benefits including access to a B2B networking software allowing them to book meetings in advance of the fair, invitations to exclusive events as well as networking events throughout the year. “This year, the hosted Buyers’ Programme is offering architects and interior designers from around the region accommodation in a 5-star hotel in Dubai to facilitate a visit to the fair. Hosted buyers will also benefit from a specially crafted itinerary to help explore the Dubai Design Week and maximize their visit.”

We at Love That Design are excited to be working with Downtown Design this year, and will be bringing you updates on what’s to come as well as what we’ll be doing at the fair. Watch this space!

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