INDEX Dubai 2024: Key Highlights

INDEX Dubai returned with an even larger appetite this year. Dubai’s World Trade Center housed over 400 exhibitors and four stages simultaneously buzzing with industry talks. The trade show was a whirlwind of insights and meet-ups, indulging visitors in a plethora of attractions. Here, the city’s most prominent design studios were part of panel discussions on all fronts, be it – the Design Talks, Workspace Summit, Hospitality Forum or the Furnishing and Textile Summit. And those looking for opportunities flocked to tune in to gain a better perspective. Siddharth Peters, Co-Founder, Love That Design was a panellist in two discussions at the Workspace Summit; whereas Ben D’Souza, Co-Founder, Love That Design and Vikita Shahani, Director of Statergy and Innovation spoke their minds at Design Talks.

Almost every attendee had their smartphones out – either ready to photograph their colleagues at the talks or networking with brands and other industry professionals. Not a dull moment at the venue. INDEX Dubai 2024, as always, proved to be a hotspot for the region’s design fraternity through three action-packed days. While it is impossible to cover all that happened, we have put together four key highlights for a terse recap. Here it goes…

Stage (if we may call it that) Design is Changing

Up and Front doesn’t cut it anymore

At INDEX Dubai 2024, we were privy to three designer stages, one by Broadway Interiors (Workspace Summit), another by Keane Brands (Design Talks), and finally, there was Designsmith’s rendition (Hospitality Summit). All three were wildly different from each other. The Design Talks arena dubbed ‘In Circle’, was a brainchild of Marco Maximus. Inspired by the classic amphitheatre seating, Marco’s aim was to inspire dialogue without the pressure of being placed at a pedestal. At the same time, audiences could have a better view of panellists, feeling closer to the subjects. Throughout the talks at InCircle, a minty green colour engulfed all those seated into a focus.

At Workspace Summit, the stage was cooped in a corner – but that was not what stole the show. The set-up aimed to mimic collaborative and humanised office spaces actually used second-hand products and materials. “For example, the majority of the furniture used for the audience was previously utilised at the German Pavilion at Dubai Expo in 2021. We aimed to create a space where people feel comfortable to talk, while resonating with a typical office setting”, shares Chris Barnes. Neither was this designed or planned on a condensed timeline. It took cumulative efforts of two years to realise this innovative and sustainable design.

The Hospitality Summit stage was probably most akin to the conventional stage, yet once you entered the space, a grounded (far from the usual intimidating) vibe took over. Perhaps, it was the dry pampas grass or the puzzle-like back of the seats – a wave of nostalgia took over. Later, we learnt that the stage used the seven colours of rammed earth to pay homage to the Emirates and vernacular building techniques. Take a bow, Vijay Nambiar and Dinnah Cadudu-an!

Art Deco-esque Concepts are making a Comeback

Jewel Tones and Geometry Everywhere

We mean, you could not ignore it if you passed through the exhibition area more than twice. The emphasis on vibrant colour, metallic finishes and geometric patterns were as clear as day. Kohler and Kallista’s stand, too, showcased new colours in sanitaryware. And we are not only talking about the show stopping Formation 01 & 02 by Dr. Samuel Ross. Ranges like Kallista’s 002 Collection also took to unique shapes and textures.

Even at Rockfon’s stand, their ingenious product, Rockfon Mono was presented in a range of colours. Looks like seamless acoustic is about to take a buoyant route. Overall, Rockfon’s stand also exuded a certain retro vibe. Speaking of the yesteryears, Ideal Fitout’s booth was that brought the roaring 70s back. The space was like a time capsule, transporting visitors to a bygone era – with details such as a jukebox and backlit sign boards.

Kohler and Kallista’s stand, too, showcased new colours in sanitaryware. And we are not only talking about the show stopping Formation 01 & 02 by Dr. Samuel Ross. Ranges like Kallista’s 002 Collection also took to unique shapes and textures.

Surfaces Furnishing, one of the most in-demand suppliers in the city, collaborated with FN Acoustic to come up with a stand that flaunted colours and geometric patterns in their offerings. As per usual Sanipex Group participated with a mammoth booth (264 sq.m.) showing all their sanitary ranges. Unique finishes and shapes also made their way through at this sizable booth. The newest addition to their portfolio, Bongnio, showcased their brassware products. Geberit’s Bambini collection for kids also made for a huge splash, with their adorable, vivacious designs.

Most of all, Hidayath’s all-metallic display was hard to ignore. From meshes to ceiling options, Hidayath’s range of customisable options open a playground for designers, no matter the project. There was also Consort Architectural Hardware that quietly brought out the importance of intricate details. Iron against wood is a classic combination, and the brand used it to cleverly display its customisation abilities and versatile finishes.

Technology is Inescapable; it’s Best to Adapt

Data-Driven, AI-Generated and the whole nine yards

If we are not using AI-powered softwares, we are talking about them. Our concern for how the future will be shaped, and how we can adapt supersedes this INDEX Dubai. From a masterclass by Firas Al Sahin to a panel talk at Workspace Summit that discussed how designers are currently using AI tools in their processes, the event was packed with thought leadership narratives. Irena Andonova from ROAR shared an experience where out of all the AI-generated concepts presented to clients, the most complicated one got chosen. While initially, this did put the design team in a frenzy, they eventually push their boundaries and executed the ceiling design.

At Hospitality Summit, a talk titled, ‘AI narratives: Weaving a customer-centric world through automated storytelling’, delved deeper into the very real fears and benefits of AI taking over. The panel’s message was clear, we must catch up and upskill to remain relevant in the industry. Ghaith Abdul Rahman, Senior Projects Lead, Dubai Future Foundation pertinently put forward, “I am even training my mom to become a prompt engineer.” While the crowd snickered at the statement, it represents the urgency. Rajeeshwaran Moorthy, Adjunct Professor, Hult International Business School presented another view, “AI should be used for experience, not for technology.” This statement underpinned his previous arguments where he maintained that employers must communicate with their teams. Being open about changes, and conveying incorporating is a way to keep up with the times. With time, jobs will evolve but the human touch is indomitable.

Take Presto’s Linea range, a touchless sensor tap, as an example. While technology is an important element, recently the brand has unveiled a range of finishes (chrome, black matter, black chrome, brushed gold, brushed stainless steel and rainbow) that can help designers to curate spaces that elicit genuine human emotion. Quooker is another brand that uses trail-blazing technology to provide an inimitable experience. At INDEX Dubai 2024, Quooker’s system proved to be a new-age kitchen necessity. 

Kaj Helstrand, Chief Consultant, Workplace Analytics ME addressed the crowd at Workspace Summit on a topic that attracted quite some crowd. Data-Driven Workspace Design. Through his keynote speech, Kaj walked the audience through a program called Reworc. The program uses data extracted in the form of questionnaires, activity diagrams and much more to suggest optimised floor plans for the office. In employers’ bid to lure employees back to office, the biggest bet is focusing on well-being.

W for Work, W for Well-Being

Data-Driven, AI-Generated and the whole nine yards

The agenda at Design Talks packed in a good amount of talks focusing on employee well-being and work life balance. Design business owners and leaders were called upon to discuss experience and share what worked out for them. The product showcase was no different. Interstuhl’s stand in collaboration with NOA offices focused on privacy, comfort and mobility. Their stylish HUB pods, for instance, were a testament to quality product design that fulfil employees’ needs efficiently. The What If We Fly range was another attraction that had visitors experimenting and playing around. What was most exciting was a sneak peak of their launch of BLCK Editions – a series of reissued, premium Interstuhl task chairs made of the most supple and high-quality materials.

booth had slogans all over that underscored their philosophy of being a people-centric brand. Their newer launches the Se:lounge Light visitor chair and Se:flair swivel chair embodies that fun contemporary flair while providing maximum comfort. Haworth brought colour to INDEX Dubai 2024 and how. Participating with their armoury of brands (Boss Design, BuzziSpace, BoConcept and more), the brand showcased how activity-focused workspaces can add that missing dynamism required to encourage employees. The Zody II chair was what we were most looking forward to – but we must say the Collaborate Board Cart and Fabric Screen also left an impression.

Materials are another aspect that shapes the well-being of a space. Biophilia, in particular, has been a raging concept. But do employers want the maintenance? In this niche, Treelocate Foliages is a well-established entity. Their offerings are high-quality, and the service is top-notch. The Treelocate Foliages stand at the INDEX Dubai 2024 projected the same – visitors flocked to the stand because of how authentic and elegant their artificial plants and trees looked. BSH Floors and Walls’ recently launched Novocore Flooring is a class act in mimicking wood. Displayed at their stand, the product looked identical to natural wood. The key lies in a unique limestone layer that helps achieve a more realistic finish, avoiding the plastic-like texture of regular LVTs. Additionally, NovoCore offers superior slip, stain, and scratch resistance, surpassing standard LVTs in durability.

Technogym products, although, might not directly fall under the corporate genre, but they can be a valuable addition, if a workplace find it worth to invest in a recreational space. Technogym Run and Technogym Ride especially can be a stylish, kinetic and luxe addition to the floorplate.

Finally, strategies are one part, however, it is the intent behind that makes all the difference. Motif Interiors’ booth at INDEX Dubai 2024 is a stunning example. Titled, ‘Boardroom of the Future’, the stand was a treat for the eyes and it was made completely out of reclaimed materials. From the bamboo ceilings, to the curvilinear partition used to form a casual seating huddle, the essence of well-being was imminent in the design.

With that we have come to the end of our round up. INDEX Dubai 2024 has concluded, but we are counting days until INDEX KSA 2024. Both these events although share the same concept, the talent, faces and brands, we meet are unique – each coming with their own agendas and goals. We will catch you there.

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