In Review: Design Days Dubai 2016

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Mar 20 2016 / 20:42 PM

The fifth edition of Design Days Dubai saw some of the biggest names in design present their latest offerings under the shade of the Burj Khalifa

In Review: Design Days Dubai 2016

Five days, 47 galleries representing more than 21 countries and over 750 exceptional design pieces on show -  Design Days Dubai 2016 cemented its reputation as the region’s most authoritative fair on collectible design. Here, Bazaar's edit of this year's standout pieces. 

  • Limited Moths

Victor Hunt Designart Dealer, the Belgian haute design house responsible for some of the fair’s most memorable design moments (who can forget their stunning Time Dubai installation?) turned from high technology to nature for inspiration. ‘Limited Moths’ by Mischer'traxler is a mesmerising light collection depicting a swarm of moths flying towards a light bulb. Each individual moth is numbered, representing an endangered species found in Austria.

Design Studio Mischer’traxler comment on the state of our ecosystem with their Limited Moth series

  • Marcel’s Wonders

Marking the launch of Esra Lemmens’ Pop Up Academy, the Dutch design impresario Marcel Wanders presented his Personal Editions Collection. A hand-picked selection of career-defining design pieces – from hand-painted delft blue vases and iconic Bon Bon chairs and the seminal Golden Knotted Chair – Marcel stressed the need for humanity in design. Delivering the keynote speech at the fair, Marcel discussed collectible design and what it means to be at the crossroads between art and design.

Fragile Fingers, part of Marcel’s Personal Editions Collection, gave visitors a rare insight into this design star’s mind

  • "Wa"

Emirati design studio MONOGRAM unveiled ‘Wa,’ a sculptural piece that doubles as a statement bench. Commissioned for the fair, the piece casts a clear silhouette of the Arabic letter “waw” in its shadow, the same way it would had it been drawn with a calligraphy pen. Made of steel and solid marble, ‘Wa’ draws from MONOGRAM’s design aesthetic that centres on presenting design that inspires, informs and expresses regional identity.


 The Wa bench tells the story of the letter's escape from paper flatland into the third dimension

  • Mechanical Magic

From Geneva and Taipei to Dubai, M.A.D. Gallery is known for mind-bending, boundary-pushing, tangible interpretations of mechanical art that force the onlooker to take a second look. From levitating discs and spinning objects to other design pieces that celebrate the beauty of mechanics, the gallery cast a spell on visitors as they experienced fantastical kinetic art sculptures and devices that were as bold and ambitious as the gallery’s vision.

M.A.D. Gallery delivered on its promise of Design-art in Motion.

  • Midas Touch

Since 2009, Gallery S. Bensimon has been home to new materials, new thinking and new design philosophies. Giving emerging and established designers a haven to explore and refine their works, the Parisian gallery is respected for its commitment to sustainable design. This year, the gallery had visitors enthralled with its stunning gold room divider by Guto Requena.

Golden Harvest is a hand-made room divider in brass with intricately woven golden grass straws

  • Oriental Fixation

The Cities exhibit at Design Days Dubai explored the concept of ‘Orientalism Reinterpreted’, as each designer selected by founder Hazem Aljesr worked with a traditional shape, design or material, offering a contemporary view on culture and tradition. One of the most cohesive narratives at the show, the Cities space featured works by Khaled El Mays, Hawini and Alma de Luce.

Splendid in its Swarovski crystals and gold leaf, The Enxoval Cabinet offered Oriental luxe aplenty 

  • Floor Art

Quick on the heels of launching their stunning Dubai Mall boutique, Iwan Maktabi presented a selection of collectible carpets that strengthened their reputation as the region’s foremost floor art dealer. Founded in Beirut in 1985, the brand is known for its commitment to quality, innovation and ability to create bespoke, one-of-a-kind carpets for a discerning clientele. While avant-grade carpets vied for attention, it was Ghassan Salameh’s stunning metal mesh installation, Alnoor, that stole the show.

A close-up of the Alnoor installation by Ghassan Salameh

  • Red Room

Dubai’s beloved Nakkash Gallery presented a special collaboration with Emirati designer Khalid Shafar. Forma, a constellation of ruby red spheres followed the designer’s now well-established design philosophy of reimagining Emirati culture for the new millennia. A mesh of Agals – the black cord accessory worn by Arab men to keep their headscarf, or ghutrah, in place – held together the oversized baubles that presided over the installation space.

Forma delves deeper into designer Khalid Shafar’s exploration of regional culture

  • Winner Takes All

Launched in October 2014, Urban Commissions is an annual design competition set up by Dubai Design District (d3) and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority that invites all creatives residing in the UAE - whether student or design professional -  to propose a functional, public work of design-art. Heeding to this year’s call for a public shelter that will become a meeting point for d3, Hinjal Kumar, a final year architecture student at the American University of Sharjah, and the only student in the top 10 finalists, won the competition with her fluid bike parking entry, ‘Bike d3’.

While initiating a lifestyle shift, Bike d3, with its spiral twist to a slatted bicycle storage system, provides shade and an intimate space in the urban context

  • Regional All Stars

Celebrating the fair’s fifth anniversary, WASL, the largest retrospective exhibition of UAE design to date, featured over 25 design pieces either designed or produced in the UAE since 2012, the inaugural year of Design Days Dubai. Works by 26 established and emerging regional designers – including Bazaar Interiors favourite Aljoud Lootah and our March cover star, Taher Asad Bakhtiari - varied from furniture objects to lighting, floor and wall pieces. Many design works on show were the result of collaborations with local initiatives, including those managed by Tashkeel and 1971 Design Space.

WASL was a poignant reminder of how far the region’s creative class has come

Images courtesy of Design Days Dubai. Words: Pratyush Sarup