Downtown Design 2020: The Multimedia Showcase

The Shape of Things to Come, Downtown Design’s multimedia showcase this year, has evoked renewed passion and excitement in our architecture and design industry, bringing out the best of their creative talents for the world to appreciate.



After a challenging 2020, the creative community finally has cause to celebrate. We are but a few days away from Downtown Design 2020, the region’s most coveted design fair. Sure our beloved, local, design fair may not look the same as in previous years (there won’t be a big tent for sure and multiple physical brand and designer setups and installations). However, like all innovative entities, this fair too, went successfully digital, and we are just as excited. As the days progress, we will bring you a breakdown of some of the key events happening during this time, in particular, Downtown Design’s multimedia showcase.

Highlighting the regional design industry’s response to the shifting attitudes towards how we will engage with our surroundings and the evolving concerns of our world, Downtown Design’s multi-media exhibition, ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ showcases exploratory and future work from Middle East based architects and interior designers as they conceptualise how we will live, work and play in a post-pandemic world.

Our design industry has certainly stepped up and let their creative juices flow, creating highly thought-provoking and instagram worthy exhibits that we cannot wait to explore. Social media and regional favourites, Roar, have teamed up with FBMI’s (Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative) new retail brand Zuleya, which sells sustainable handmade carpets and lifestyle products made by women in Afghanistan. Designers Pallavi Dean and Ana Carreras have created a beautiful collection of carpets titled ‘Metamorphosis’, which will be on display, in true Roar creative style, at the exhibition. One not to miss!

But there is so much more…

Designers JPA are known for their decades of innovative work on aircraft carrier interiors, and hold their niche in the transportation industry. Their entry for the exhibition, titled Rihla, focuses on the ‘Complete Guest Travel & Hospitality Experience of the Future’.

Travel industry experts have predicted for many years that with technological advancements, our destiny can ultimately be controlled by a single User Interface. Even more so following the pandemic, the demand for a contactless environment will need to be fulfilled with hospitality venues forced to adopt mandatory measures and swift implementation. Utilising modern technologies, this proposal goes well beyond satisfying immediate and cosmetic wellbeing necessities. Controlled by the user for a completely unique guest experience, but tailored by collaborative hospitality partners to create an entirely new and innovative revenue generating hospitality trend for the future, it offers a glimpse into how our travel experience will evolve.

Kristina Zanic Consultants also addressed the current state of world culture with their installation, ‘Flux’. For human beings, the concept of change and transformation can be very stressful. Using an electrocardiography of 2020’s timeline as base pulse, this installation ‘encourages guests to take a strong stand in the present and use this transformative environment to plant the seed of opportunity for tomorrow’. Gathering some of the industry’s creative leaders virtually to share their concerns and insights on how the pandemic has impacted design thinking, the installation becomes a representation of the transformation underway within the Middle East’s creative community.

Binchy and Binchy decided to focus on their resourcefulness. When physical connections were impaired and planes were grounded, importing products became complicated. Specified materials were suddenly difficult to get hold of and so, designers needed to innovate with what was right in front of us. Diversifying design abilities while remaining physically static was an exciting challenge for the industry, one that posed a great opportunity for positive impact on the local economy and the environment. With access to online learning and efficient ways to communicate virtually, the Binchy and Binchy studio used their time in isolation to research materials, techniques and products that were locally available, as well as improve their customisation skills to create projects that were much more bespoke. Their presentation demonstrates how sourcing and creating locally can propel the region’s design community to become self-reliant.

Some regional architecture and design houses have created absolute utopian dreams, that feature entirely sustainable hotels that thrive on a circular economy, green malls and wellness inspired interiors.

Here we would like to focus on The Living Wadi by Atkins, the pics of which blew our mind. The studio created a new model of public space for the Middle East, which is both ecologically and financially sustainable. This ‘Living Wadi’ offers solutions that not only create multi-layered experiences, but also energise and invigorate the neighbourhood. There is an obvious shift towards saving the planet, the self, and our sanity, and this showcase proves it.

For more information and a complete list of entries, click here.


The Shape of Things to Come

Where: Building 4, Dubai Design District (d3) and open across the duration of Dubai Design Week

When: 9 – 14 November, 2020

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