The fair is back with an in-person showcase of 150+ international and regional exhibiting brands and designers
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of Dubai Council, registrations are now open for Downtown Design, the region’s leading fair for high-end and quality design. The fair returns from 8-12 November, 2021 and will take place in its purpose-built venue on the waterfront terrace in Dubai Design District (d3).
Over the past decade, Dubai has established itself as the design capital of the region, with Downtown Design as a key meeting point bringing together the region’s interior designers and architects who this year are enjoying a post-pandemic boom, fuelled by some of Dubai’s highest property sales in 12 years.
The fair will showcase more than 150 international and regional exhibiting brands and designers, complemented by extensive collateral activations that include an interactive talks programme featuring global industry experts, conceptual exhibitions by leading designers and interactive installations.
A key feature of Dubai Design Week, the fair will host brands from over 20 countries as well as major national representations from European countries including Austria, France, Hungary, Italy and Spain. Downtown Editions, the fair’s boutique section dedicated to limited-edition and bespoke design, will once again uncover the latest in design by individual designers, studios and creative collaborations, with a spotlight on the region.
David Ross, Director, Downtown Design, comments: “With the return to a live, in-person edition of the fair this November, coinciding with demand for interior design and architecture services at levels not seen across the region for many years, Downtown Design will provide a perfectly timed, exciting and purposeful platform to reconnect the industry and celebrate original and high-quality design.”
Entry to the fair is free by registering at downtowndesign.com or through the Dubai Design Week app. Trade and public days are from 9 to 12 November.
Downtown Design 2021 Highlights
Downtown Design will showcase the latest global interior design trends, ideas and inspirations featuring over 150 leading international and regional brands, with highlights including furniture from LEMA, Minotti, Giorgetti and Vitra; textiles from Illulian, Kvadrat and Verdi; major kitchen and bathrooms brands including Grohe, Villeroy & Boch, Laboratorio Mattoni and RAK Ceramics as well as lighting brands including Lasvit from the Czech Republic, Baranska Design from Poland and Shakúff from the USA.
The Italian national presentation, ‘Luxury Interiors – The Art of Italian Design’ from ICE, will be the largest in the fair’s history, featuring over 40 Italian companies showcasing their latest work whilst the French presentation by Business France will bring fine examples of the ‘Art de Vivre’ – with over 15 companies that combine traditional savoir-faire with avant-garde innovation. Spain’s design sector will present a united installation from ICEX with eight leading brands curated by Dubai-based Spanish architect Juan Roldán; WKO, Austria Economic Chamber will showcase seven leading homegrown furniture, lighting and accessories manufacturers and the Hungarian Fashion & Design Agency will present the work of emerging national designers under their ‘Budapest Select’ umbrella brand.
Downtown Editions will present a boutique showcase of limited-edition and bespoke pieces from designers and brands including Aline Hazarian, The Line Concept, Nakkash Gallery and Zieta Studio alongside emerging regional creative talents. These individual exhibits will be complemented by a range of showcases uncovering the latest in design from the region, including The Beirut Concept Store, which will feature works by 50 established designers and emerging creatives based in Lebanon, while the UAE Designer Exhibition 2.0 is set to unveil works by 25 emerging and undiscovered creative talents based and producing locally. The works of four designers selected by Tashkeel for the 2021 Tanween Programme will also be unveiled at the showcase.
The Forum at Downtown Design will host a series of compelling live interviews and discussions between leading regional and international architects, interior and product designers on each afternoon of the fair.
Staged in a dynamic amphitheatre specially designed by ema to promote interaction and engagement, The Forum is a space where professionals can engage in energising and candid design dialogue, with topics ranging from changing industry dynamics, behaviours and opportunities to how architecture and design can truly embody authenticity and place, and from implementing sustainability in the real world with real clients to placemaking and the future development of Middle Eastern cities.
International speakers contributing to the Forum include design studio founders Sebastian Herkner, Elliott Barnes, Gregory Gatserelia, Massimo Iosa Ghini and Adrien Gardère. In addition, Micael Calatrava, CEO of Calatrava International LLC, will discuss the current flow of their global projects with particular emphasis on their creation of the UAE Pavilion and the Qatar Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
More than a dozen areas of key importance to the broad spectrum of visitors to Downtown Design will be addressed in panel discussions, with contributions from leading lights of the regional architecture and interior design community including Jonathan Ashmore, Founder & Principal Architect, ANARCHITECT; Laura Bielecki, Group Design Director, Ellington; Pallavi Dean, Founder & Creative Director, Roar; Andy Shaw, Managing Partner, AMA and Chair, RIBA Gulf Chapter; Diane Thorsen, Design Director, Gensler and Isabel Pintado, SVP Design & Innovation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Installations and special features
Visitors will be immersed in an interactive installation at the entrance to the upcoming fair, which will bring together contemporary design and technology in a unique multisensory experience. Designed by award-winning Dubai-based studio NIU, the highlight of this year’s entrance will be an oversized mosaic clad caricature by artist Antonello Blandi, which will be decorated by Fantini Mosaici, one of Italy’s leading brands of hand-cut mosaics found in luxury boutiques, homes, hotels, and palaces. The installation will also be strategically illuminated with sustainable, innovative lighting from Artemide.
Dubai-based Broadway Interiors has designed The Lounge Bar for Downtown Design 2021, creating an eclectic, stimulating environment inspired by the Dubai landscape and vista. Situated in the main exhibition area, The Lounge Bar will provide another important yet informal meeting space for brands and buyers to connect, and comprises two distinct sections including an outdoor water-facing terrace.
Downtown Design will also give visitors the opportunity to comfortably network and foster contacts in The Lighthouse Café created by prominent Dubai-based practice Lulie Fisher Design Studio and inspired by Virginia Woolf and her Bloomsbury Set contemporaries. Featuring a large, boldly patterned and richly coloured mosaic feature wall by Trend Middle East, the café will include a custom-built bar counter clad in matching mosaics and topped by a timber canopy that will sit beneath the tented exhibition roof.
Visitors can download the free Dubai Design Week app to register to Downtown Design, discover the full programme and be kept updated on the latest health and safety guidelines. Available on Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
About Downtown Design:
Downtown Design is the leading platform in the Middle East for the region’s trade professionals to discover original, high-quality design and the commercial centrepiece of Dubai Design Week. Alongside brand debuts, product launches and the latest collections from contemporary international and regional design brands, Downtown Editions, the fair’s boutique showcase for limited-edition design presents established and emerging designers, collectives and individual studios from around the world, with a spotlight on the Middle East.
Offering visitors a dynamic design experience, Downtown Design’s curatorial approach encompasses large-scale installations and specially commissioned projects by leading designers. The fair’s programme of talks, The Forum,
annually brings global design leaders, strategists and editors together to discuss the industry’s most pressing matters. Held in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) and supported by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Downtown Design is owned and managed by The Art Dubai Group.
About Dubai Design District (d3):
Dubai Design District (d3) is a global creative ecosystem dedicated to design, fashion, architecture, art and retail. In line with Dubai’s position as the leading business destination for the region and beyond, d3 is created as the first-of-its-kind creative ecosystem that enables people and businesses to grow and co-create, whilst simultaneously providing a strong platform for creativity. Strategically located in the heart of Dubai, d3 is one of the city’s lifestyle and business destinations that challenges thousands of people to rethink the regular.
With state-of-the-art infrastructure designed to meet the needs of the industry and a business-friendly framework, the community offers creative talent the tools to drive innovation that permeates through various areas of Dubai’s economy, further reinforcing Dubai’s status as a UNESCO Creative City of Design.
d3 is a cutting-edge retail destination with over 40 retailers offering a variety of multi-brand boutiques, fashion brands, art galleries and showrooms. In addition, d3 is home to leading companies and talent including architects, interior designers, photography studios, product and fashion designers. The Design Quarter, the central component in the development of d3, features world-class offices, studios, showrooms and retail spaces spread across the district.
Some of the region’s most popular and sought-after events take place in d3 and attract international artists and audiences to cultural exhibitions and gatherings such as Dubai Design Week and Sole DXB. The destination also regularly hosts a roster of industry talks, workshops and educational programming, accessible to people of all ages.
d3 is also home to the cutting-edge business incubator – in5 – that aims to support the fashion and design industries by offering students and entrepreneurs the opportunity to transform their ideas into successful commercial ventures. This ecosystem is further supported by the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, the region’s only university exclusively dedicated to design and innovation.
About Dubai Arts & Culture Authority:
On 8th March 2008, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched Dubai Culture & Arts Authority to be the custodian entity of the cultural and creative sector in the emirate, based on its cultural responsibility towards Dubai and to help define it at the local and global levels, enabling and developing these sectors to consolidate the emirate’s position as an active global centre for creativity. In August 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued a law to transfer Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children to Dubai Culture, becoming an entity under its organisational structure. His Highness also issued a law in May 2021 to affiliate the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation to Dubai Culture to promote the strategic alignment of the cultural sector and raise it to a level that would enhances Dubai’s position on the global cultural map.
Under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture, the Authority is committed to enriching the cultural scene of the emirate, based on the heritage of the United Arab Emirates, and is working on building bridges of constructive dialogue between various civilisations and cultures to enhance Dubai’s position as a global centre for art and culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent.
The Authority is also committed to reviving Dubai’s history and highlighting the splendid image of its contemporary cultural fabric through a series of innovative cultural initiatives, events and projects, as well as the cultural, historical and heritage assets it sponsors, including the management of five of the city’s notable heritage monuments, six museums, and eight branches of Dubai Public Libraries.
Dubai Culture is working to develop regulatory frameworks for the cultural and creative sectors in Dubai, based on the priorities of its strategic roadmap for 2020 – 2026 and on the enablers that contribute to its realisation to seek and support talents and stimulate active participation from all segments of society. The aim is to create an economic system that stimulates creative industries and reinforces Dubai’s position as a global cultural destination, in addition to its cultural responsibility of safeguarding the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the emirate.