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November 9, 2020

The Spaces of Tomorrow: Dubai Design Week 2020

Today marks the start of the largest creative festival in the Middle East, Dubai Design Week 2020, showcasing industries ranging from urban design and jewellery to technology and science.

Running from November 9 to November 14, the event will highlight innovations of local designers both established and emerging, as well as the latest collections from international firms.

Following the momentous impact of COVID-19 on our way of living, this year’s festival is focusing on ‘addressing the role and responsibilities of designers, creatives and the creative industry stakeholders in redefining the way we live in the near and distant future’. They’re asking the question, how will designers respond to our shifting lifestyles as we move forward from a global pandemic? One of the event’s strongest answers comes from Iraqi designer Hozan Zangana’s Fata Morgana, awarded Dubai Design Week’s prestigious Abwab commission.

Working with Generous.studio and WoodCast Designs, Zangana has created an imaginative conceptual plan for transforming Dubai Design District (D3) in response to new public space requirements. The artist’s open-plan city balances physical distancing via seating arrangements with social interaction, directing people to cross paths through central walkways. The design draws strongly from regionally contextual materials and production processes, such as a rammed earth technique used for centuries in the Middle East, and is based around seven pillars as a nod to the seven Emirates of the UAE.

At the centre of Dubai Design Week, though, is Downtown Design, which this year will feature a range of physical exhibitions and virtual events to engage design professionals and enthusiasts alike. The in-person programme includes The Shape of Things to Come, where the Middle East’s leading architects and interior designers have reconceptualised how the residential, urban, commercial, and hospitality spaces will change to suit a post-pandemic world. There will also be a Digital Fair featuring the latest collections from international and regional design brands, as well as a series of virtual panels discussing how industries can continue adapting to meet the needs of a changing world. We at Casper Magazine are particularly looking forward to “Designing For Humanity” on Friday, where Carl Gerges (founder of Carl Gerges Architects), Max Fraser (design commentator and journalist) and Paul Cournet (architect for OMA*AMO) will discuss how we can design a more equitable world in the face of social, cultural, and environmental issues.

Before last year’s Dubai Design Week, we were impressed by the dedicated mentorship program and exhibition that provided industry experience for four up-and-coming designers, but 2020 has taken this focus on emerging talent to a whole new level. The inaugural MENA Grad Show will showcase 50 projects from graduates of design, architecture, science, and tech programs from universities across the Middle East and North Africa. Selected specifically for their promising social impact, the graduate’s prototypes, films, and original research will be on display at an in-person exhibition where they can engage with local and international leaders in their various fields, but can also be accessed digitally through the Global Grad Show. One exciting project by the Green Team of the University of Buraimi, Oman, has found an alternative to concrete that uses up palm tree waste! Some of the graduates are also participating in an Entrepreneurship Programme, which teaches them about market implementation so their innovative ideas can start benefiting the community as soon as possible.

It’s exciting to see a design festival that’s focused not only on bringing forward interesting and beautiful concepts, but also focused on the people who will use the items and spaces those ideas become. From the established international companies to the local graduate researchers, it’s bound to be a week full of innovation, creativity, and a fresh look at the design trends to come – so, make sure to tune in to Dubai Design Week this week!

For more world-class design, read our reflection on IDOM’s four wins at the World Design Awards.

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