Dubai Design Week 2015: Dubai lays claim to the world’s newest design centre

As the inaugural Dubai Design Week came to a close on 31 October, the six-day design showcase served to cement the city’s status as the design capital of the region.

Dubai Design Week

More than 120 designers from 35 countries took part, alongside some of the world’s most influential industry figureheads, representatives from global academic institutions and key creatives from across the Middle East, making Dubai Design Week one of the most significant and widely attended events in the region’s design history.

The event was opened on 26 October by its patron, Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), and enjoyed visits from a host of other international dignitaries throughout the week, including the ambassadors of China, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Mexico and Finland and representatives from the Consulate General of Canada.

Between 26 and 31 October, more than 100 events took place across the city, featuring a diverse cast of designers, artists, architects, educational and cultural institutions, retail stores, iconic brands, trade professionals, authors, thinkers and more. The focal point of the week was the new Dubai Design District (d3), which effectively became a free-to-visit ‘open museum of design’ for the duration of the event and host to the Middle East’s first ever Instagram #empty, a pioneering event  during which Dubai Design Week opened outside of opening hours to a select group of regional and international Instagrammers.

Dubai Design Week is owned and managed by Art Dubai Group in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) and supported by the Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) and the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). 

Mohammad Saeed Al-Shehhi, Chief Operating Officer of d3 says “Dubai Design Week was a tremendous success for the city of Dubai and a real test of d3 in terms of both concept and infrastructure. I’m thrilled to say that Dubai Design Week gave us proof not only that d3 ‘works’ as a venue, but that its mission – to provide Dubai’s dynamic creative sector with a dedicated platform that can act as an international focus for design in the Middle East region – is timely, welcome and, above all, necessary.”

Moza Shaiban Suwaidan, Director of Projects & Events Department at the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, added, “The overwhelming success of the first Dubai Design Week underlines the significant advances that Dubai has achieved as a global hub for design. In addition to showcasing the works of international designers, it also offered a credible platform for emerging talent from the region to understand the newest trends in design, network with the experts and strengthen their skills. Dubai Design Week has firmly set its credentials in the global scene and will further contribute to the city’s creative economy in the coming days.”

Residents and visitors alike interacted with site-specific works located around the city – including installations in Tashkeel, Al Fahidi, d3, THE BEACH and CITYWALK by Meraas – from 13 specially commissioned multi-disciplinary designers and visual artists. The varied talks and workshops programme included keynotes from design visionaries such as Lebanese starchitect Bernard Khoury and Brazilian designer Humberto Campana.

Dubai Design Week’s commercial centrepiece, the third edition of trade fair Downtown Design, has been the most successful to date, firmly establishing the fair as the leading design trade event in the region. Pre-registrations increased by 25%, and visitor numbers surpassed all expectation – current estimates suggests that more than 10,000 people crossed the threshold over the fair’s four days. A deluge of positive feedback from industry representatives, buyers and brands has led to a surge in demand for space at the 2016 edition, already exceeding this year’s levels, meaning it’s not too early to suggest that Downtown Design’s fourth edition in 2016 will be the biggest and most influential yet.


Earth Hives installation by Latifa Saeed and Talin Hazbar

Iconic City Brilliant Beirut, curated Rana Salam

Downtown Talks were held during the week



Images: Art Dubai Group/ Dubai Design District (d3) 

Source: Dubai Design Week/ Edited by Panels & Furniture Asia