With more than 175 coveted international and 40 regional brands on show – the largest curation of Middle Eastern talent - this year’s edition of Downtown Design will be its biggest and most diverse to date. An opinion leader, a star maker and the destination for design enthusiasts, collectors and professionals to discover the very best in design; the fair’s many roles reflect our growing appreciation for quality and exceptional making.
This year’s fair marks a fresh creative direction with indoor landscaped gardens, bespoke café concepts, a pop-up shop, and a plethora of avant-garde design installations featuring some of the biggest names. Within a masterplan devised by Dubai-based architects H+A, the fair’s theme of liveable cities will come to life via beautiful landscape interventions by the award-winning firm Desert Ink, bespoke pop-ups, unique retail experiences and a plethora of avant-garde design installations featuring some of the biggest names.
Regional design weeks including Beirut, Amman and Casablanca will present co-curated features within Downtown Editions. Pockets by Saccal Design House, Beirut
25 global design stars will come together at Downtown Design to share their journey in the world of haute design. The forum will host a stellar line-up of talks that are bound to inspire and invigorate. Speaking for the first time in the Middle East are the award-winning darlings of design, Ini Archibong and Matthew McCormick.
As a son of Nigerian immigrants to the United States and a resident of the US, Singapore, and Switzerland, Ini’s diverse personal and professional background underlines his design ethic and ethos. At Downtown Design, he will explore the cultural impact of a mindful, creative code-share. One of Rossana Orlandi’s hand-picked designers to feature in her 20th-anniversary celebrations, Vancouver-based lighting designer Matthew McCormick will talk about how a blowtorch and a passion for hand tools redefined his trajectory. Hollywood’s favourite interior designer, Martyn Lawrence Bullard will make a case for inclusion and diversity in design. The most influential names in architecture, Foster+Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Grimshaw Architects, amongst others, will offer a sneak peek into the cities of the future. New to Downtown Design, the workshops will offer an exclusive insight into the latest trends and design philosophies.
MADE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Designed by BIG, the Gople lamp is part of Artemide’s latest works that will be presented at the fair
A robust selection of regional designers and brands alongside the inaugural showcase of Downtown Editions – a presentation of limited-edition and unique work with a spotlight on the region – mirrors the mounting confidence of our home-grown talent.
Paying homage to the region’s beloved perfumery culture, Emirati designer Aljoud Lootah will yet again experiment with new materiality. Tashkeel, the Dubai-based incubator will present works developed by the newest protégés of its Tanween programme. At Downtown Design, Rejo, the Riyadh-based design studio will launch their new collection featuring precious materiality and a vibrant colourway. Beiruti collectible carpets manufacturers, Iwan Maktabi will present their latest collections that are classic, contemporary, and eclectic all at once.
Exploring the beauty of Arabic calligraphy and lending a contemporary stance to tradition are fine jewellery pieces by Shamsa Allabar. From Morocco, designer Sophia Chraibi Giorgi’s works delve into sustainable design and modular interpretations of her culture. Presenting for the first time in Dubai, her utterly customisable furniture can be easily reconfigured to fit your evolving lifestyle. Presented by Beirut Design Week as part of a co-curated presentation within Downtown Editions, Saccal Design House celebrates a harmony of noble materials, exceptional making, and a contemporary vision.
THEN THERE WAS LIGHT
Preciosa’s latest collaboration with Studio MUT is a sculptural table lamp that interprets the healing powers of colour and light
Downtown Design’s masterfully curated selection of the most exclusive lighting brands will feature makers at the cross-section of high-quality craftsmanship and pioneering technology. Artemide, the Italian brand behind countless contemporary design icons will present its newest collections designed by an A-list roster of powerhouse designers: Ross Lovegrove, Carlotta de Bevilacqua, Neri&Hu and BIG. Maintaining the authenticity of centuries-old glass-blowing techniques and reinvigorating it for the times through collaborations with some of the most important designers of our generation, Lasvit returns to the fair alongside Serip, the Portuguese brand best known for its nature-inspired statement pieces.
Gender armchair by Patricia Urquiola for Cassina
French masters of crystal art, St. Louis will also present their latest collections, designs for the most discerning clients and exclusive projects. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bomma explores sleek lines, pure geometries and a restrained colour palette with its new collection inspired by the galaxy. Stunning on their own, and even more impactful when grouped, the Orbital and Soap lights will enchant.
THE MAGIC OF DESIGN
Amazonia design in standard colourway on custom pink painted xuan paper.
Design’s truest power lies in its ability to make one ‘feel’. Preciosa Lighting, the Czech super brand that is known to deliver experiences that go beyond mere beauty, will present a show-stopping moment. Composed of hundreds of opaque and translucent orbs in a cloud-like formation, Preciosa’s creative directors Michael Vasku and Andreas King created a dynamic installation that quite literally, brings breath to life. Marrying the best of Bohemian glass-making with cutting-edge technologies and sensory features, Breath of Light invites audiences into a dream-like state as they walk amongst the glowing orbs. Blow into the glass orbs and the installation responds to the intensity of breath, manifesting the external stimuli through a dance of light.
Home to exceptional Scandinavian design, Normann Copenhagen is one of the many leading brands presenting for the first time at Downtown Design
Beating more than 8,600 entries from 45 countries, Breath of Light recently won the Red Dot: Best of the Best 2018 award. Known for their fine, hand-painted wallpapers, fabrics and home objects, De Gournay will showcase their mastery of the art of wallpaper design with a unique installation. For the first time in the region, Marc Ange, the LA-based designer who is known for his works that blur the line between the real and fantasy, will yet again play with art and design to deliver a rare experience.
Japanese Garden, in original colourway, on tarnished silver gilded paper with pearlescent antiquing
Furniture-making is as much a refined art as it is precise science and the brands on the show are known to obsess over every single detail to create pieces that exalt in the time-honoured tradition of manufacturing and yet, effortlessly push boundaries. Italian experts in furniture, Cassina, Cappellini and Poltrona Frau are coveted for fine materiality and timeless design. They will present a portfolio of new works and beloved icons. Also flying the flag for the Italian school of design are Moroso and Foscarinin.
Baxter will present its portfolio of contemporary Italian design
The brand behind some of the most well-known bentwood and tubular steel classics, Thonet and Arper, purveyors of human-centric design, will present works motivated by relationships: between products and spaces, spaces and people. With a passion for indulgent contemporary and antique masterpieces, Florence-based Manfredi Style’s heavily curated collection is defined by a heightened appreciation for art, design and bespoke craftsmanship. Part of Downtown Editions, the multidisciplinary initiative will showcase a choice of exclusive, original and innovative works at the fair. Presenting for the first time at Downtown Design, the Italian label Baxter, Normann Copenhagen from Denmark and the Portugal-born, Dubai-based designer Sérgio Mendes will showcase a diverse universe of creative expression, bound together by a singular quest for excellence.