Find out what is going on at Dubai Design Week

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Designed by Desert INK, this entrance installation wowed visiting crowds. (Photo courtesy: Dubai Design Week)
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Leading avant-guarde European designers, Patrick Fredrikson (L) of Sweden and Britain's Ian Stallard, pose in front of an artwork entitled 'Prologue' during the Dubai Design Week in the Gulf emirate on November 14, 2017. (AFP)
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An installation titled ‘Aidah,’ designed by Boano Prismontas and Ricardas Blazukas. (Photo courtesy: Emily Julia Jardine)
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‘Prologue’ by design duo Fredrikson Stallard. (Photo courtesy: Emily Julia Jardine)
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‘Dubai’ by Amrish Patel is a crowd favorite. (Photo courtesy: Emily Julia Jardine)
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‘Screen’ by Lujane Rezk and Albert Kolambel is an interactive installation. (Photo courtesy: Emily Julia Jardine)
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Examples of Swiss graphic design from the 1950s to the present day were on show. (Photo courtesy: Emily Julia Jardine)
Updated 15 November 2017

Find out what is going on at Dubai Design Week

DUBAI: An exploration of the intersection between art, design and expression, Dubai Design Week is on the verge of wrapping up after a creative few days of more than 200 events staged across the city.
Dubai Design Week was founded in 2015, under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the vice chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, who said at its inception: “Dubai Design Week represents the dynamic evolution of Dubai in steering innovation, creativity and collaboration in the fast-growing design sector. Hosting this flagship design event in Dubai defines our city’s credentials as a fast-emerging global design capital that inspires designers around the world, provides them a vibrant platform for showcasing their works and fosters the next generation of design talent.”

The six-day event, which kicked off on Nov. 13 and will close on Nov. 18, aimed to attract more than 50,000 visitors from around the region and the world to Dubai to cement the city’s status as “a cutting-edge, vibrant global design hub,” according to organizers. Architects, designers, thought-leaders, influencers and public audiences explored talks, workshops and exhibitions around Dubai. Meanwhile, Arab News took a wander around the core location of the event — Dubai Design District — to see what points of inspiration could be found.

In its two years, the event has grown larger than ever, with 35 percent more events than last year, in increase that is immediately noticeable on the ground. This year, Dubai Design Week opened with a talk by Sir David Adjaye, a leading architect of his generation who designed the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, however, such talks are not the only additions. There are more installations and, overall, a bigger buzz and crowds mingle in the sun, exploring the diverse installations. School groups also wander through, taking endless selfies with some of the more grand exhibits.

It was a great honour that Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@latifamrm1) visited and officially opened @dubaidesignweek earlier today: "It is with admiration that I witness the growth of the design scene here in Dubai from a humble beginning of a group of galleries, makers and design enthusiasts to flourishing into an international hub for established and emerging designers and design studios from all over the world." Thank you, Her Highness, for your continuous support. #DXBDW2017 ⠀ ⠀ شهد اليوم الافتتاح الرسمي لأسبوع دبي للتصميم، أحد أحدث فعاليات التصميم الدولية وأ كثرها طموحاً، وذلك تحت الرعاية الكريمة لسمو الشيخة لطيفة بنت محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم، وبحضور معالي نورة بنت محمد الكعبي، وزيرة الثقافة وتنمية المعرفة بالإضافة الى الدكتورة أمينة الرستماني، الرئيس التنفيذي لمجموعة تيكوم وعدد من المسؤولين. ⠀ وعلقت سمو الشيخة قائلةً "لقد حققت دبي طفرةً كبيرةً في قطاع التصميم، إذ استطاعت من بداية متواضعة ومع مجموعة صغيرة من صالات العرض والمصممين والمهتمين بالقطاع أن تتحول وبكل فخر إلى مركز عالمي⠀ للمصممين العالميين – ناشئين ومخضرمين على حد سواء”⠀ ⠀ ينعقد أسبوع دبي للتصميم من 13-17 نوفمبر في حي دبي للتصميم.

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This year’s program features the Global Grand Show, which was “an exhibition of groundbreaking works from… 91 of the world’s leading design schools, representing 40 countries and six continents,” according to organizers. These 200 graduate projects were grouped under the themes of “Connect, Empower and Sustain.”
Highlights of the week

Having run throughout the week, with the final day slated for Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Abwab exhibit is “a highlight of Dubai Design Week as it is the only initiative of its kind to offer a snapshot of regional design talent from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia,” according to organizers. Abwab, which means doors in Arabic, is an evolved concept of “a single pavilion in the heart of Dubai Design District exhibiting as many countries as possible. Over 250 designers were reached through an innovative peer-selection process — ‘designer dominos’ — as a pay-it-forward mechanism to strengthen a community. In order to be considered for selection, a designer is required to nominate the next designer to submit.” Final designs were chosen based on the degree of their clear inspiration, ideas and design grown from the roots of these cultures in the region, “to capture the spiritual essence of a place through architectural expressions.”
Iconic city: Loading... Casa
Set to run until Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., this exhibition is curated by Salma Lahlou who worked as the vice president of the National Museums Foundation of Morocco and founded Thinkart, an organization working in the fields of visual arts and curatorial practices, in January 2015.
The exhibition creates a non-linear experience where archival images, sound recordings, a short film, a monumental drawing and contemporary photography collide. The five points of design are transhumance, mutation, counter-culture, amnesiac memory and hedonism and the expression of design is realized through a graphic mural landscape, tapestry design, a visual poem and audio by the Moroccan music group Nass El-Ghiwane.
This exhibit can be overwhelming at first, with all senses mindfully engaged by the collection of artists curated. However, once the different elements of this design come into focus, the observer feels connected to the sights and sounds of Casablanca, reading, listening, watching and engaging with art. This exhibit tends to hold observers for a little longer than the installations as they make their way through all of the sensory experiences.
Silent Call
Designed by Dubai-based furniture expert Khalid Shafar — whose approach to design encompasses his personal expression of form, movement, emotion and “the tale” of objects — Silent Call was on show throughout the week and will also be accessible on Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This installation is a chandelier that was inspired by mosques, “the crown of Islamic architecture, and the beauty of the call to prayer.” As described by the event organizers, this installation “showcases the eternal inspiration and symbiosis of art and religion, while integrating time and motion for a purposed function beyond aesthetics. He has incorporated the symbolism of the number five into this work, referencing the five daily prayer times that are one of the most important obligations of the Islamic faith.”
The chandelier features silhouettes of the domes of five countries’ iconic mosques: Russia, Malaysia, Germany, the UAE and Denmark.
Perhaps the most eye-catching installation, Prologue, designed by Swedish-British duo Fredrikson Stallard and presented by Swarovski, is a monumental, freestanding sculpture weighing 1.2 tons and holding over 8,000 amber-colored Swarovski crystal droplets within its four meter-diameter. The installation is stunning and this is one of the few areas where attendees line up to take pictures. It has been perfectly positioned to revel in Dubai’s sun so that no matter which angle you approach this artwork from, you can see the light dancing around the design.
Originally unveiled in Hong Kong at Art Basel in 2014, this work of art a features a luminous ring that almost seems to mimic the sun, while the “endless circle represents new beginnings, life and rebirth,” according to event organizers.
As Ian Stallard explained to Dubai Design Week organizers, “our partnership with Swarovski is based on a common vision of concept, material and form. In Prologue, we are exploring ways of playing with contrasts — a simple, round shape and the shimmering luminosity of precisely-cut crystal creates an oversized lens that reflects the light with incredible intensity. Prologue is the latest milestone in the history of our common vision.”
Dubai Design Week is an event that should not be missed. With its mix of music, art and people, there is a contagious energy in the air that reminds even the most jaded Dubai resident that this city is dynamic and a place of art, design and inspiration.

UAE art fair brings together ancient and futuristic creative designs

Abu Dhabi Art is exhibiting more than 300 works of art by emerging and established talent. (Arab News)
Updated 15 min 50 sec ago

UAE art fair brings together ancient and futuristic creative designs

  • The 11th edition of Abu Dhabi Art boasts 50 leading regional and international galleries
  • Spread across the two main gallery halls, innovation, thought, and concept is explored through various artistic mediums

DUBAI: The world’s first robot artist, Ai-Da, was among the many attractions at a top Middle Eastern cultural event taking place in the UAE.

The 11th edition of Abu Dhabi Art, which runs until Nov. 23 at the capital’s Manarat Al-Saadiyat creative hub, boasts 50 leading regional and international galleries exhibiting more than 300 works of art by emerging and established talent.

Among a range of other activities taking place at the event are workshops, master classes (one of which will be led by Ai-Da), public talks and discussions looking into topical issues such as cultural identity, artistic talent from China, the rise of the Pacific region as a hotspot of contemporary art, and the multidimensionality of Islamic art.

Abu Dhabi Art runs until Nov. 23 at the capital’s Manarat Al-Saadiyat creative hub. (Arab News)

Spread across the two main gallery halls, innovation, thought, and concept is explored through various artistic mediums.

From Dubai, Ayyam Gallery has a solo presentation of vibrant works by the French-Tunisian calligraffiti artist eL Seed, who combines “the beauty of Arabic calligraphy with the roughness of graffiti.”

Meanwhile, the Lawrie Shabibi Gallery was showcasing paintings from the late 1950s onwards by Moroccan modernist Mohamed Melehi, known for his signature, retro-cool wave images.

Another popular exhibit was from Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, which showed Emirati artist Nasir Nasrallah’s bright neon artwork, reading in Arabic, “Visit me every year 365 times.”

Abu Dhabi Art is spread across the two main gallery halls. (Arab News)

From the wider region, Lebanese gallery owner and curator Salah Barakat of Agial Art Gallery introduced visitors to geometrical, steel sculptures by Anachar Basbous.

Jeddah’s Hafez Gallery was making its fourth appearance at the fair, bringing together a display of works by nearly 12 multidisciplinary artists from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Egypt.

Hailing from Tunisia, Elmarsa Gallery displayed figurative paintings bursting with expression and color, by the 20th century Algerian artist Baya Mahieddine, who was highly regarded by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Beyond the gallery sections, the Abu Dhabi Art team had set up a number of special exhibitions. “New Horizons” looked into conceptual works created by Chinese and Indian artists, while “Gateway: Fragments, Yesterday and Today” explored archaeological artifacts of ceramics and musical instruments on loan from the Al Ain Museum.

Beyond the gallery sections, the Abu Dhabi Art team had set up a number of special exhibitions. (Arab News)

Alongside the historical items were works by contemporary artists, which exhibition curator Paolo Colombo said were aimed at examining “the ways in which everyday objects have survived long after the lives of individuals who shaped them, and how they have entered the language of a number of contemporary artists.”

Curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif – who was recently appointed senior curator of the Sharjah Art Foundation – the handpicked “Focus: Drawing, Tracing, Mapping” section was dedicated to understanding the medium of drawing in profound depth.

Kholeif said: “Here, drawing is not the simple act of applying graphite to paper, but rather, drawing is performance and social sculpture, as much as it is about the study, diagramming and impression of a portrayal. Here, drawings reveal hidden histories and contour realities. Drawing becomes a means to see the unseen.”

Among the eight participating galleries in the section was the Saudi Athr Gallery, with a solo booth of serene drawings of circles by the Saudi-Palestinian artist Dana Awartani. Created especially for the fair, the gallery said the works symbolized “acts of meditation and moments of contemplation as part of her (Awartani’s) daily rigor of being an artist, a method she frequently adopts to quiet the mind.”

Among the eight participating galleries in the section was the Saudi Athr Gallery. (Arab News)

A fair newcomer was the recently founded Al-Burda Endowment initiative, led by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development. For this presentation – on display at Manarat Al-Saadiyat until Feb. 8, 2020 – a group of 10 artists from around the world were chosen to create pieces that celebrated Islamic art with a contemporary touch. Through this experimental exhibition, visitors were treated to a memorable viewing experience, encountering fabric installations to virtual reality.

UAE social enterprise, 81 Designs, forged an artistic dialogue between eL Seed and Palestinian women artisans from Lebanon’s Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp. Inspired by eL Seed, the women have reproduced some of his calligraphic artworks through a time-honored tradition of cross-stitch embroidery.

“The message we want to get across is that art brings happiness to people, especially the underprivileged,” 81 Designs’ co-founder Nesrine Maalouf told Arab News. “We would like to empower women and make them feel that they are contributing to the livelihood and the household.”