First Glimpses: Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design 2023

Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design have returned for their 2023 edition. Step into the Design Event of the Year with Love That Design…

‘Big and Better’, read headlines before Dubai Design Week 2023 started. An exhaustive list of installations, coupled with scintillating talks curated at The Forum at Downtown Design forecasted that the claims were anything but baseless. Yet, design aficionados were curious to see how it all culminates.

Dubai Design Week began November 7th 2023, while Downtown Design kickstarted on November 8th with a VIP preview. Come 9th November, Dubai Design District (the heart of it all) was filled with international and local visitors flocking to see what the show had to offer this year.

Within the bylanes of Dubai Design District, the emphasis on local heritage is palpable. The much-talked about Abwab Commission by architect Abdalla Almulla stands sturdy and tall, smack in the middle of the venue. A few miniature pop-up shops are settled on its edges, and visitors can be seen frequenting the mighty, shaded installation to pose for a picture. With spotlighting indigenous materials and techniques comes a shared focus on sustainability amongst the installations.

Features like a long table tennis set-up and invigorating installations (small and big) at almost every other turn has transformed Dubai Design Week into an inherently social and bustling time. Within the building blocks of Dubai Design District, offices are hosting a variety of events. From private lunches to open-invite talks and workshops, there is something for everyone. 

And the weather, more or less, seems to factor it all. The morning until early afternoon might begin on the mild side of toasty, but eventually a soft breeze guides visitors’ paths as they tread from one building to another. The walk to the Downtown Design tent is hence, a pleasant one.

One step inside the tent, and the difference from its previous years is unmissable. One can’t put a finger on it. It could be visibly better designed booths, or perhaps participation by revered international brands this time around that calibrates for it. Either way, most booths this year have taken to a conceptual route, enticing passersby with mysterious and bold set-ups. In all this, the central theme seems to be ‘quality’, whether it be of the products or design.

A picture might speak a thousand words, and a video might provide enough insights, but witnessing Dubai Design Week 2023 would only be doing the regional design event of the year justice. Besides, would you want to be a part of a conversation later on, where nearly every discussion ends with ‘you had to be there?’

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