The UAE’s design industry has grown in stature and significance in recent years, with both the government and the private sector realising its potential and implications for the economy. The MENA Design Outlook Report, issued in 2014, stated that the UAE’s design market is expected to reach an estimated $35.9bn in 2019.
Reflecting global trends and in line with the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform the country into a leading design hub, the UAE is home to amazing avant-garde design professionals and is considered a top incubator of design talent.
In line with sustained efforts to showcase the country’s heritage and culture, while also boosting its economic competitiveness, steps have been taken to elevate the local art and design sectors. Creative artistic hubs and avenues that house vibrant art galleries have surged in recent years across the UAE, as have cultural exhibitions and installations, and design-related initiatives and programmes.
Supporting homegrown talent and encouraging entrepreneurship are two key aspects that contribute to laying a robust foundation for the industry to flourish. Emerging designers and artists need a nurturing ecosystem that transforms their big ideas into reality. Creative communities like Dubai Design District (d3) offer a dynamic platform to help local creatives elevate their potential through opportunities for collaboration and learning.
Events such as Dubai Design Week (DXBDW), an initiative that d3 has both hosted and supported since its launch, are helping to shape a more integrated design community. By encouraging designers to display their work across a range of disciplines including architecture, product design, interiors, multimedia and graphic design.
A key event of DXBDW is Downtown Design, an annual fair that brings together the regional and international design industry for commercial opportunity. The fair showcases the diversity of contemporary design from the Middle East region alongside international studios and established brands.
Downtown Design has grown year-on-year, with the 2019 edition set to comprise of large-scale experiential projects especially commissioned for the event, as well as bespoke café concepts and presentations. To provide a visually engaging design, award-winning design studios are remodelling the look and feel of the event. Wilson Associates are lead consulting architects for the 2019 Downtown Design masterplan while XBD Collective lends its creative flair to the café.
Among the top designers and ateliers set to exhibit at Downtown Design are Aljoud Lootah, Alshaya Enterprises Workspace, Atelier Swarovski, Carpets CC, Desert INK, Cosentino Group, Hands Carpets, Preciosa Lighting and Obegi Home. An exciting range of networking programmes will be hosted by entities such as MMAC Design Associates, Roar, RSSJ Design, RMJM and SSH.
d3 supports the design industry through initiatives that promote knowledge sharing and community engagement. ‘MADAR’ is one such initiative that will be presented during DXBDW by the event’s guest curator, Ghassan Salameh. ‘MADAR’ will offer an overview of the current state of the regional design industry and the upcoming movements from design-active cities.
Dubai's reputation as a global destination for design is consolidated on a continuous basis as the industry continues to evolve, grow and mature. With a myriad of design-related initiatives and events in the pipeline, the outlook for growth remains positive.