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Dubai Design Week 2023: 3D printed pavillion crafted from fermented sugar, talk by Lidewij Edelkoort, and more

500 designers, architects, and creative practitioners to arrive in force for the annual event.

Dubai Design Week 2023: 3D printed pavillion crafted from fermented sugar, talk by Lidewij Edelkoort, and more
[Source photo: Dubai Design Week | Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

It’s usually that time of year when artists and art aficionados descend upon Dubai for Dubai Design Week, a week of art exhibitions, talks, and workshops. But this is no normal year. Over 500 designers, architects, and creative practitioners from over 40 countries are coming to exchange ideas and present the possibilities of what can be achieved through design from 7-12 November.  

“The program will feature thought-provoking design installations, exhibitions, talks, and workshops that address various narratives: from traditional practices and emerging technologies to design-led solutions for vulnerable communities and efforts to document Arab visual culture,” says Natasha Carella, Director of Programming, Dubai Design Week.


This year’s art fair is filled with environmental artwork. Many of the artists have something more important to focus on. There will be over 25 large-scale installations, including a special Abwab commission by Emirati architect Abdalla Almulla, centered on the date palm as a natural resource; a large-scale 3D printed pavilion crafted from fermented sugar by Mamou-Mani Architects; a prototype of a traditional UAE structure built using salt-based, cement alternatives by architects Wael Al Awar and Kazuma Yamao; a Japanese tea-house constructed from localized food waste, such as tea dregs and grapes by Mitsubishi Jisho Design; and a textile-based project, unraveled and re-shaped by Palestinian designer Areen Hassan.

It doesn’t stop there. There’s a roster of exhibitions, including an Arabic poster exhibition, London’s Royal College of Art showcasing sustainability, design, and emerging technologies, and Colab, Dubai’s first materials library, presenting innovative materials from around the world.

Downtown Design, the anchor event of the week, is returning to mark its 10th edition and will feature some of the most sought-after Italian brands, such as Cassina, Cosentino, and Poltrona Frau, presenting their latest collections and innovative products.

A showcase of Nordic design, presented by The Bowery Company, will debut some of the most innovative and influential Danish brands to the region, alongside emerging Dutch manufacturer FEST Amsterdam and FAME Collective(Female Artist of the Middle East) present limited-edition works by names such as Carla Baz, Naqsh Collective, and Talin Hazbar.

Visitors can also explore works by independent designers, studios, and galleries worldwide, with a spotlight on the region. 

Additionally, visitors can attend the talks by trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort, fashion designer Ozwald Boateng OBE, and some of the world’s leading designers, including Ross Lovegrove and Giulio Cappellini.

“The program is extensive this year, developed for both the design community, creative enthusiasts, and the general public and those just curious about design,” says Carella.


What does it take to put together a successful design week?

“It definitely takes a village,” says Carella. “It is a year-round effort of development together with the local creative community as well our strategic partners, Dubai Design District (d3) and Dubai Culture, to ensure that we are looking at all aspects and opportunities for and of the creative ecosystem.”

In the end, it’s a collaborative process to amplify the voices of the region and engage with all relevant cultural organizations, academic institutions, architectural firms, design studios, individual creatives, and other design practitioners across the Middle East to support this incredible design scene and contribute to creative economies, she adds.

Since its establishment in 2015, Dubai Design Week has transformed into a prominent international design event and a platform for the region’s creative community. Its success can be attributed to its diverse programming, pioneering ideas, and encouragement of regional talent.

“For this edition, the objective is to encompass architects, designers, intellectual trailblazers, influencers, and the general public from the local area and beyond, giving opportunity and seeing designers grow from emerging designers to become established, globally renowned,” adds Carella. 

She says providing emerging talents with a platform to showcase their work catalyzes fostering innovation and pushing the limits of their creativity. It also introduces novel perspectives and unconventional methods, enriching the creative landscape.

“Providing emerging talents with a platform to attain global visibility elevates Dubai and the UAE’s reputation and amplifies the cultural exchange in the region.” 

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