Dubai Design Week 2021 blinds with opulence and futurism in equal measure

JAN 17, 2022 | By Twinkle Tolani
Industry experts and spokespersons of the brands rendered the fair interactive, informative and insightful; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
The Downtown Design Exhibition at Dubai Design Week 2021 featured renowned architectural and interior design brands; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
Various installations through the premise of Dubai Design Week turned the event into a lively and interactive affair; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
The MENA Grad show displayed the impeccable efforts of students and their will to solve contemporary issues as efficiently as possible; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
This year’s Abwab commission ‘Nature in Motion’, an undulating design concept that references the Dubai desert’s constant motion, emulating the city’s continual evolution, by architect Ahmed El-Sharabassy; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
Bentley Motors collaborated with Hessa Al Suwaidi to create ‘Safeefa’, combining Bentley’s craftsmanship and design of movement with a modern iteration of traditional Emirati weaving; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
The Marketplace returned in its second iteration with 50+ new participants and a dedicated section to support designers and producers working in Lebanon; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
Shuster + Moseley, explored geometric prismatic forms that revealed the shape of light for Dubai Design Week; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
Urban Commissions is back for the seventh edition of Dubai Design Week; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture

The seventh edition of the Dubai Design Week took place at the d3 district of Dubai from 8th to 12th November 2021. With its ardent display and unrivalled design quality, the event was the newest addition to the franchise’s successful lineage. 

Widely known for high-end designs that define luxury, the Dubai Design Week aspired to bring avant-garde perceptions to the surface in this volume. Right off the hook, from the d3 district’s meandering pathways, installations perk the visitors up before they set foot into the main exhibition centres.

Smack in the middle of the pedestrian pathway, ‘Context Reflections’ by ANARCHITECT in collaboration with Cosentino, was a surprise wrapped in a big orange box. Inside, a play of penetrated light created via a naturally occurring optical phenomenon inspired visitors to see something as basic as light with an innovative lens. The low-tech, self-operating installation was built using the first carbon-neutral surface collection from Cosentino.

The designer behind the huge orange box named ‘Context Reflections’ by ANARCHITECT in collaboration with Cosentino; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Christened ‘Athenaeum’, this installation by Ana Carreras for Mirage/Lever glorified the history of the Middle East; Photographs by Twinkle Tolani
The 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition showcased five architects and their visions for the city of Dubai in the next 20 years; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture
Exil Collective X Zenobie featured at the Beirut Concept store; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
The reflection of Beirut in these phenomenal vases by Maria Halios Design; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Adrian Pepe’s carpet exemplifies Beirut’s condition with the unwound threads; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Handmade ceramic pot by Atelier Nadeen at the Beirut Concept Store; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India

Another installation doused in monotones, ‘Athenaeum’, by Ana Carreras for Mirage/Lever served as a prequel and bait to the 2040: d3 Architecture Exhibition. The exhibition was a multimedia showcase featuring five architectural firms presenting concepts of the probable infrastructural future of Dubai in 20 years. The installation’s main objective was to subtly reinforce confidence by highlighting the recent findings of the extraordinary architecture of the 3000-year-old city—Mleiha. 

At the d3 waterfront, the Downtown Design fair showcased more than 150 international and regional designers with interactive discussions with spokespersons and industry experts. The Beirut Concept was a lively exhibit featuring fifty established designers and emerging creative talent based in Lebanon like Zenobie, Maria Halios and David Pepe.

Bathtubs and sanitary in chic and playful colours by Villeroy&Boch; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Grohe put an exhibit that brought to light the serenity and sophistication of its sanitaryware; Photographs by Twinkle Tolani
Arijian, Korea put on display accents inspired by pearls, showcasing its focus on the ancient crafts of mother-of-pearl; Photographs by Twinkle Tolani
Yabu Pushelberg for Lasvit Design at the Dubai Design Week with these ethereal ceiling hung lights; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
The Leaf by Loomiosa was spotted at the Dubai Design Week in HFD Agency’s exhibit; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
The Button Life Rabbit Mug by Ham Joanne at the Lighthouse Cafe in main exhibition area; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India

Curated by Mariana Wehbe, the Beirut Concept bravely shows off the scenography designed by Rumi Dalle. Pillows stuffed under the display tables give the context of the Lebanese state of affairs. The citizens’ dream of beauty in the wake of the gruesome events and economic conditions, symbolised by the chaotic setting. The pillows were sold on the last day of the exhibition, in the allegory of bidding adieu to the hardships and of hope that the next exhibit will not require such a melancholy undertone. 

Pure opulence was the primary attendee at the fair. Furniture from LEMA, Minotti, Giorgetti and Vitra, textiles from ILLulian, Kvadrat and Verdi, kitchen and bathrooms brands such as Grohe, Villeroy & Boch, Laboratorio  Mattoni and RAK Ceramics as well as lighting brands including Lasvit from the Czech Republic, Baranska Design from Poland and Shakdff from the USA flaunted their latest designs and products at the premise.

Cosentino flaunted its products in collaboration with Studio Nada Debs and Aljoud Lootah Design Studio; Photographs by Twinkle Tolani
Face sculptures by George Petrides, made by initially 3D printing and then casting in metal; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Aadyam Handwoven’s exquisite collection called for a picturesque set up at the Dubai Design Week; Photograph courtesy by ELLE DECOR India
Behind the exhibit was a noble cause to push prerogative of self-sustaining eco-system for Indian Artisans; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Jaipur Rugs hosted an exhibit with their collections, and encouraged interaction through talks and answering questions; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India

Jaipur Rugs, Hands Carpets, and Aadyam Handwoven brought the Indian panache and poise to the fair. While Jaipur Rugs’ globally awarded collections Unstring, Chaos Theory and Aakar were at the pavilion, the one-of-a-kind ‘Manchaha’ Collection proved to be the hero. 

Hands carpets displayed the stunning One Love collection—a resultant of collaborating with nine designers from nine countries, along with launching their latest ‘L’ornement’ and ‘Urbane II’ collections. Aadyam Handwoven, on the other hand, came to propagate the narrative of creating a self-sustaining ecosystem for the Indian artisans.

The 3D-printed Dalia table by Nyxo Studio in collaboration with Colossus Printers; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
A table cum stool in rock and concrete cast by Sagarika Atlanta Dias and Rana Salah; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Comes as no surprise that these ceramics by Lena Kassicieh were usurped inspiration from sweets; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Date Palm Tree Paper cutlery by James Matthews; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
Made of waste paper pulp, this innovation by Bits to Atoms and Post Industrial Crafts took recycling in an aesthetic direction; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
The crude texture of unrefined paper and the raw shades of products speak of the strength of recycling; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
An installation, by Beyrac Architects and PEAHEAD, made of bottles discarded by the residents of the city aimed to target the consumer conscience; Photograph courtesy ELLE DECOR India
The Marketplace at the Dubai Design Week; Photograph courtesy Flint Culture

As hosts of the 2020 Expo, which has a futuristic theme, the city and citizens of Dubai beam with ideas for the future. Consequently, it is reflected, clear as the day, throughout the Dubai Design Week. If talks of the future are to commence, the drivers of the future must not be absent from the discussion.

The MENA Grad Show featured the work of bright young minds coming out of the region’s leading universities, addressing issues ranging from desertification and accessibility to child nutrition and waste management. Experiencing the thoughtful innovations and unending motivation of the youth is the greatest bring back from the event.