Dubai Design Week 2022: A look back at the highlights of the event

You know it’s time for Dubai Design Week, when the city’s customary soaring temperatures begin to taper down and a mostly pleasant and only slightly toasty weather takes over. Paired with the ideal ambiance for a lazy stroll, varied installations attracted a hefty turn-up in the bylanes of Dubai Design Week 2022’s hot center – Dubai Design District (D3). What also contributed to this blockbuster edition of Dubai Design Week was this year’s Downtown Design fair, just a five-minute walk from D3. Themed ‘Design with Impact’, the fair organizers and its participants put up an eye-grabbing display of products, ranging from sanitary to outdoor to residential. 

Looking back at the week that was, we’d say ‘You’d have to be there’, but if you weren’t or just want to relive the event, here are the crowning highlights of Dubai Design Week 2022….

01. The spotlight on culture and homegrown designs at Dubai Design Week 2022

This year, Dubai Design Week 2022 saw a clear focus on the culture and heritage of the Middle Eastern region. From the show-stealing ‘Once Upon A  Forest’ installation, right in the middle of an intersection between the buildings to the large metal silhouettes of Al Yowlah dancers swooning with the wind, the spirit of culture formed the pulse of the event.

Installations that brought together the city’s traditional look and new-age outlook at Dubai Design Week 2022:

Inside the Downtown Design tent during Dubai Design Week 2022, brands such as Home Figures, Are, Modu, Quarter Moon Studios, Trame, R’Kan Edition, Gaar, Jasmine’s Line, Halle Design, The Workshop, Karina Sukar, Jwana Hamdan, Klekktic, Form: and The Line Concept showcased designs shone light on how contemporary designers use Middle Eastern culture as muse.

Stories that stood out at Downtown Design during Dubai Design Week 2022

Are Studio’s lucid rendition of mixing modernity with tradition attracted onlookers in plenty. Appearing like a real-life glitch, the furniture line combined typical Arab features with chromatic colors and an exciting digital-esque twist!

Nareg Krikorian’s Gaar and Jasmine’s Line had booths facing each other, both putting on display two varied usages of leather in interiors. While Gaar boasted a more masculine and rugged look, Jasmine’s Line had a floral and feminine aesthetic. We met Nareg at Jasmine’s Line booth and he revealed, “Well, this is my mother’s booth, the one across is mine. So we are competitors.” Talk about family feud, eh?

Halle Design’s Iraqi mastermind, Hala Yousif uses her travel stories and Islamic heritage to gather inspiration for her woven inklings.

02. The showcase of designs that interacted and engaged at Dubai Design Week 2022

All through the premise of Dubai Design Week 2022, there seemed to be a running popularity of installations and booths that did more than the usual. The Vistagram by Apical Reform Studio, for instance, was a kinetic installation with rotating acrylic sheets that reflected imagery of the activities going on. The aim was to urge visitors to have a look at their surroundings over being on their phones.

The power of storytelling: Jaipur Rugs, at Downtown Design, used storytelling to make attendees feel connected to the products. One such story was Manju’s, one of many artisans from Jaipur Rugs, who used patterns and hues she saw in a utensil while cooking on a stove as muse for the rug she created! The ‘Brahmaand’ Collection, designed in collaboration with well-known Indian designer Ashiesh Shah and worked on by prisoners in Indian cells was also on display . Activities like inviting visitors to make postcards for the artisans to encourage and appreciate them, and handing them a tufted gun to draw on a canvas made for a truly engrossing booth.

iGuzzini’s display was one that got more interesting the more closely you looked. In the background of their booth were posters right from the 1970s that proved that the brand has always been conscious of light pollution – a phenomenon that has only recently gained attention. In front of these posters, were iconic lighting products from the brand such as Polsino by Gio Ponti, Nitia by Rodolfo Bonetto, and Sorela by Harvey. A not-so-secret dark room with digital controls even assisted people in understanding what the products would look like when in-use.

Quooker flaunted their tap ‘that does it all’ by playing the perfect host – offering water to the folk tired of going around the booths. Visitors flocked to the booth to see how one tap could produce four types of water – chilled sparkling, chilled, warm, or hot – all from the same nozzle! With just a little force and a flick of a wrist, water changed temperatures and impressed attendees. The boiling water didn’t even burn – the secret? Air bubbles within the water supply.

The most interactive and intuitive booth at Downtown Design: Kohler’s feature in collaboration with Montreal-based Studio Iregular. Christened CONTROL NO CONTROL, the big LED cube housed a selection of geometric patterns and audios that the visitors could manipulate by simply hovering their fingers over. The box was positioned as public art, and in talking to Mayank Turan, Marketing and Product Manager at Kohler Middle East, the true beneficiaries of the feature came to light, “Children have enjoyed the installation the most. Afterall, they know how to play.”

The MB&F M.A.D.Gallery – half a watch boutique and half a art gallery combines what connects these two worlds – kinetics and mechanics. From the leaf that moved to the ring that floated to the picture frame that converted actions dynamic, visitors couldn’t help but engage with the products. Nalbandian Carpets from Lebanon, also used projections to make their display interesting during Dubai Design Week 2022.

03.  Looking Inside: Downtown Design’s Impactful Showcase during Dubai Design Week 2022

This year’s edition of Downtown Design was plentifully spotted with outdoor furniture and home decor brands. The most pressing realization during the pandemic has been the dearth of spaces that connect outdoor and indoor spaces, especially within homes. While carpet brands like Hands, Illulian and Jaipur Rugs have always been a part of the event, Baytik Design from Khansaheb also displayed their range of products designed by Grammatiki Zamani, Founder of Kiklos Architects

On one end of the spectrum were brands like Grassitup and Alain Gernigon that showcased their outdoor furniture solutions, on the other hand sanitary giants like VitrA bathrooms and Sanipex Group who unveiled ‘LIQUID’ designed by Tom Dixon and flaunted their ever-so-elegant BagnoDesign product range, respectively.

Rock Galpin‘s STAK launched in collaboration with Kidzink and Kvadrat made for a great product that offers compact and fun seating and surface solutions. Made available in an array of fabrics, heights and colours, it is the oblong shape of the cushioning along with the surface made of Dateform, the world’s first date-seed based solid surface material that adds to its dynamism.

Obegi Home, Poliform and Giorgetti came together to bring forward a world-class display of living area interiors. Lighting brands Lasvit, Asfour Crystal and Huda Lighting cranked it up a notch with their latest products blinding attendees. Huda Lighting, in particular, showcased lights from brands such as Lodes, Italamp, Masiero and Bomma putting on display a variety to stare at and explore. 

Haworth’s booth was certainly an intriguing one amongst those showcased at Dubai Design Week 2022. A cuboid divided into multiple connected cubes, each with a huge circular void that showcased a different setting of Haworth products – vibrant colors of the box matched the fun yet functional designs inside. The ICEX Interiors from Spain booth displayed products from Porcelanosa, ACTIU, Rols and Boln, as a mark of the Spanish Spin in the Middle East, which was also the theme of their talk at ACTIU showroom on 9th November.

Although, not directly a part of the show, Neolith‘s Amazonico made for a sleek and stylish bar counter at the Lighthouse Cafe designed by Aswad Design.

04. Trainings, Talks, and Dialogues during Dubai Design Week 2022

All through Dubai Design Week 2022, various events inspired much-needed dialogue amongst industry professionals. ICEX held a panel discussion about the Spanish Spin in the UAE on the 8th of November which was a full house and also marked the presence of honorable dignitaries from the Spanish Embassy in Dubai. Teknion and LUUM also hosted a number of talks and workshops like the Rhino User Meet and Weaving Workshops and CEU about sustainability spearheaded by Suzanne Tick herself. Shaw Contract also held two talks – one on sustainability and another one on hybrid workplace – at their showroom in D3.

At Downtown Design, Cosentino’s booth, KASA Cosentino installation and planned in collaboration with RSP Architects, was the premise for Cafe Cosentino hosted by the brand. The installation showed off Cosentino’s latest collection of sustainable and carbon neutral surfaces Silestone® Sunlit Days, Dekton® Onirika and Kraftizen. In addition to the ritzy Champagne Reception held by Aritco, the brand also held a panel talk at the Forum in Downtown Design on ‘Is Sustainability the Gold Standard For Luxury Living?’

On the soap box: The Forum, designed by Studio Collectus, formed the central spot for talks for this season of Downtown Design at Dubai Design Week 2022. Finishes, surfaces and products from Kvadrat, Boln, Metre Squared, Flos, Normann Copenhagen’s Bit Stool and Baituti Home could be spotted at the installation.

Arper, unveiled in a closed-invitation party, their collection Project of Living alongside other products during Dubai Design Week 2022. iGuzzini’s foosball competition saw the designers from Killa Design, Kristina Zanic Consultants and Bishop Design compete for a coveted prize. Giorgetti held an announcement party in the Obegi Home showroom at Jumeirah, for their collaboration with the luxury yacht brand, Benetti.

Bene invited visitors to their renewed showroom at D3, which has been re-conceptualized as a  Hybrid Workplace Experience Centre.

Even outside the radius of D3, events went abuzz. Roca, for the sixth year in a row, held a one-day design competition at the Etihad Museum. Mosa’s talk on Circularity and Sustainability in Architecture at Alserkal Avenue on 8th November was also amongst hits of Dubai Design Week 2022.

05. Sustainability: Not an aspect but a requisite at Dubai Design Week 2022

Sustainability and thinking for the future were seen becoming a norm at Dubai Design Week 2022. Even all the products used at the Forum are not just made of sustainable materials, but already have their re-use planned. 

A question that lingered ‘How Much Does Your Debris Weigh?’:  Standing as a grubby and robust-looking shade made of steel and waste material, it stood out like a sore thumb all through Dubai Design Week, like it should have. “The installation tackles the concept of changing the perception of debris, especially in the industry of construction and demolition. We wanted people to perceive the construction waste, not from the beneath but from the top. Our motive was to create an uncanny feeling in the visitors, so that they feel the discomfort under here – we wanted them to ask themselves this question. How would society be if I was overwhelmed by debris?”’, says the team from Quartz Architects. “We partnered with Dulsco, which is a recycling center and shares our values.”

Even fashion-mega brand Stella McCartney’s installation shone light on the importance of reuse and repurposing. Just beyond it, RI-BBORN at Dubai Design Week 2022, brought to you by Ajman University, made of reused fabric strings made for a fun and tall feature with swings that portrayed the strength of recycled materials. 

Made of desert sand-based concrete, date-seed-based solid surface material, and the region’s first plant-based vegan leather, ARDH’s Collective offering evoked curiosity and wonder. A punching bag made of assembled remnant silks and embroideries, inside a boxing ring whose boxing floor is covered in waterproof shader, a reclaimed canvas fabric used to shelter goods like fruits and vegetables during long truck journeys invited onlookers to talk about pressing environmental issues. The installation was created at Bokja’s Basta atelier in Beirut, and was symbolic to the packed and loaded climatic issues at hand.

With Dubai Design Week 2022 ending, it is time to bid farewell to yet another successful year. This year’s focus on creating an impact did, in fact, leave a mark. From thoughtful curation of Downtown Design to the creative installations, the event made Dubai Design District come live and had the entire town talking. Dialogues were conducted, bonds were formed, and hopefully the aftereffects of witnessing thoughtful design will extend to working on impactful design. In awaiting Dubai Design Week’s return next year, we hope to see cultural design thriving even more in the region, design consciousness breaking glass ceilings and for the event to grasp every vein of the city rather than just beating in its heart, D3. Until then!

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