Since its launch in 2015, Dubai Design Week further cemented the Middle East as one of the world’s major art hubs. Even a pandemic isn’t stopping it in its tracks.
The design festival is back for its sixth edition, with adaptations to the new, post-coronavirus normal, of course. The festival will take place both online and IRL, with over 100 events as part of its programme, including exhibitions, pop-ups, and outdoor installations, all with a particular focus on the effects of the pandemic on our day-to-day lives.
This year marks the design fest’s inaugural MENA Grad Show, which will present 50 projects by university students from across the Middle East and North Africa. Students were tasked with presenting solutions to current social and economic problems for the show. From an alternative to concrete using palm tree, to a streamlined process to extract lithium from the ocean, the projects are a must-see.
The six-day festival also includes the multimedia exhibition ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ which will feature work by architects and interior designers reimagining life in a post-pandemic world.
Of course, Dubai Design Week wouldn’t be complete without a showcase at its open-air home of Dubai Design District, wherein—suitably—social distancing measures can be respected. There you’ll find a host of outdoor, immersive installations to check out. Wondering what to look forward to? We round up must-see 10 installations.
Grabbing a coffee as you peruse through Dubai Design District? ‘Earthly’ is the special installation designed with you in mind. Using locally-sourced compressed sand and earth, the installation sets up a new, sustainable form of distant gathering throughout the district.
Please Sit Here
Created in response to the reduction of freedom brought on by the pandemic, Emirati designers Aljoud Lootah, Khalid Shafar and Hamad Khoory developed a hardwood bench designed to make the two-metre distancing measures come as second-nature to visitors, without the need for any warning signs.
Also designed with social distancing in mind, architect Iman Ibrahim created the installation as both a flexible and deconstructed response to the ‘new normal’. The installation features several paths that accommodate one person at a time and mirror sheets to allow people to see themselves and others.
Wind of Dubai
Stepping away from the pandemic, Turkish artist Refik Anadol put his focus on Dubai’s natural elements with an artwork that gives face to the invisible patterns of the Gulf capital. With data collected from sensors that collect wind speed, direction, gust patterns, and temperature, t, the piece creates a visible pattern for viewers to enjoy. Unlike the remainder of installations, this one will be permanently displayed at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown rather than Dubai Design District.
Designed by Ana Carreras, the installation is an urban sculpture that re-interprets the world’s first ever architectural structure, called the ‘dolmen’. The piece was created with solid aluminium and porcelain slabs.
Dining out has never been the same since COVID-19 hit the world. Amsterdam-based studio Mediamatic created a new concept inspired by social distancing measures, featuring a series of glass greenhouses.
Points in Common
There’s never been a time where interactivity has proved essential. Montreal-based Studio Iregular has kept this in mind when developing its latest technology. The studio’s installation reacts to the slightest movement of its visitors, even the blink of an eye.