Making Dubai Design Week a creative success

Dubai Design Week is set to run until Nov. 17. (Image supplied)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Making Dubai Design Week a creative success

  • Dubai Design Week kicked off in the city’s edgy Design District on Nov 12
  • This year’s theme, “Between the Lines,” can be regarded as a storytelling experience

DUBAI: As Dubai Design Week kicked off in the city’s edgy Design District, Rawan Kashkoush, creative director and head of programming at the event, shared her insight on the seminal fair with Arab News.

After four years of experience in Dubai’s annual design festival, Kashkoush talked about the importance of the city as a host in the Arab region.

“Dubai functions as an economic and political safe haven in the region. A lot of people come here and consider it home,” she said.

That said, Dubai Design Week, which runs from Nov. 13-17, is considered an international event as much as a local one. “This creates a beautiful blend,” Kashkoush said.

The design festival showcases three different major attractions that offer visitors a plethora of boundary-pushing design innovation.

First up is the commercial fair, called Downtown Design, which is an interior design trade show focusing on high-end, curated items from around the world. With 175 contemporary design brands, including 40 regional designers, the fair presents Middle Eastern talent alongside international designers. Visitors will also be able to commission limited-edition and bespoke items at the fair’s new section, Downtown Editions.

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Don’t miss ‘Nothing into Something’ a workshop led by Theresa Millard, Project Manager, Sustainability and Stewardship at @kohler. The workshop will be held on 14 November, from 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM, and will take place in @d3dubai in the building 4 atrium on the main stage. Can industrial waste be sustainable? This is the question that launched the Kohler Waste Lab and during this workshop, Theresa will discuss the concept behind the Lab and what they are working on. These inventive projects include repurposing items such as pottery cull, foundry sand and other traditional manufacturing ‘waste’ streams into ceramic tiles, table tops and more. . . . . . . #DXBDW2018 #DesignNews #DesignWorkshop #Sustainability #SustainableDesign #Kohler #Repurposing #Workshop #DesignTalks

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“It is for people in the region to push the boundaries of Dubai on an experimental level,” Kashkoush said, explaining the motive behind the commercial trade show.

Next up is the Global Grad Show, which showcases inventions by passionate, upcoming design graduates of 61 nationalities from 100 universities around the world.

But Kashkoush seems to be most enthusiastic about Abwab, an exhibition and architectural installation that brings together design talent from across the Middle East.

“Abwab exhibits a cultural exchange of art between the Middle East and North Africa,” she told Arab News of the exhibit, the title of which translates to “door” in English.

This year’s theme, “Between the Lines,” can be regarded as a storytelling experience in which the various artists and designers were invited to share stories that would encourage visitors to leave with a deeper understanding of the region, to read between the lines as it were.

This year, Abwab features a collection of design experiences drawn from five communities in the Middle East: Amman, Beirut, Dubai, the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait City. Two designers have been invited from each place to collaborate and produce works situated in dedicated pavilions.

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In time for #DXBDW2018's official launch day tomorrow, here’s a preview of what to expect from the Middle East’s largest creative festival. With a programme of over 250+ exhibitions, installations, talks and workshops, the best of the design world will be taking over @d3Dubai until 17 November 2018. Staged in partnership with Dubai Design District (@d3Dubai) and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (@dubaiculture) and Audi Middle East (@audimiddleeast), this year's Dubai Design Week programme is the most comprehensive to date. Don't forget to download the Dubai Design Week app to make the most of the event. . . . . . . #DXBDW2018 #preview #designevent #designeventdubai #designdaysdubai #installations #exhibitions #globaldesign #designcommunity #creativecommunity #sneakpeek #dxb #dubai

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Creative group in the UAE gives female artists a chance to tell their story

Jana Ghalayini’s work at Art Dubai invited visitors to draw on their responses.
Updated 11 min 6 sec ago
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Creative group in the UAE gives female artists a chance to tell their story

  • Female-led art collective wants society to rethink the way women of color are perceived
  • Banat Collective publishes artworks in print and online and hosts events to encourage debate

DUBAI: Sara bin Safwan founded the Banat Collective in 2016 to connect with other like-minded people, championing
their art through the group’s website, banatcollective.com.
The group aims to help society to rethink the way women of color are perceived by showcasing contemporary art, poetry and other writings. The collective publishes artistic works in print and online and hosts events aimed at spreading awareness and encouraging debate.
“A lot of the artists are young and emerging and never had the chance to be either exhibited or publicized, so we interview them to offer a critical, insightful look at their work,” said Safwan, 25.


Now an assistant curator at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Safwan graduated from London’s world-famous Central Saint Martins college in 2015 with a degree in culture, criticism and curation.
It was while studying in Britain that she developed a keen interest in post-colonial theory; the Banat Collective focuses on themes relating to both womanhood and intersectionality, which is an analytic framework to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those most marginalized in society.
“The mission is not only to connect artists but open up discussions about Arab womanhood in the region, because there’s not necessarily any other place to do so. We do that through art, poetry and other writings,” Safwan said.
“I use the word ‘womanhood’ to make it a more accessible term because if I use ‘feminism,’ it’s a very politically charged word that has almost been tainted by Western ideologies. And those Western ideologies don’t necessarily fit within our context as Middle Easterners.”
“In the Middle of it All” is the collective’s debut publication. Released in 2018, the book is a 31-artist collaboration of visual art, writing and poetry. Our book is a means to help us stand out — it’s thoughtfully curated and tackles a specific issue, which is ‘coming of age’,” she says.
“It’s a notion that’s taboo in the Arab world and either unheard of or misunderstood. It was a chance for female artists to tell their own story.
“Throughout the book, we go through many topics such as puberty, identity, sexual harassment and abuse, sisterhood, motherhood, beauty standards and all these other societal expectations.”
The collective held its first exhibition as part of March’s Art Dubai fair, showcasing a short film, “Ivory Stitches & Saviors” by member Sarah Alagroobi, which she describes as an “unflinching glimpse into identity, colonialism and whitewashing.”
Says Safwan: “It’s a tribute to all women of color who have been marginalized and, all too often, erased.”
Another work by Palestinian-Canadian artist Jana Ghalayini is comprised of a 26-meter-long piece of chiffon on which visitors can draw with chalk pastels in response to questions posed by the artist including “How does your environment affect your identity?”
Safwan adds: “The themes we explored were vulnerability and community — it was a way to introduce ourselves in person because previously we only had an online presence.”
Born and raised in the UAE to Honduran and Emirati parents, Safwan is now working with Alagroobi and Ghalayini to brainstorm ideas for future projects that include a podcast series on the notion of shame. The collective is self-funded and run by volunteers.
“I hope there will be more opportunities to showcase our work and collaborate with others. This year, we will be publishing more content,” Safwan said.

This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of The Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.