RIYADH: The second edition of the Saudi Design Festival has opened in Riyadh showcasing the sector’s trailblazing work throughout the Kingdom.
Based at The City Hub until Jan. 23, the event will feature panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and mentorship sessions in collaboration with the Saudi Architecture and Design Commission.
The festival will take in 35 locations around the city including Oud Square, The Boulevard Riyadh, galleries, and three design destinations.
Basma Bouzo, the festival’s director and co-founder and chief executive officer of consultancy firm &bouqu, said: “We are celebrating the collective design discoveries and journeys of local and regional visionaries, industry leaders, trailblazers, and the raw and undiscovered.
“Riyadh is our base for the festival, but in it we will honor all 13 regions of the Kingdom.”
We told the team to stop looking at benchmarking across countries. We’re going to create our own rules, we’re going to create our own structure.
Basma Bouzo, Festival director and co-founder and chief executive officer of &bouqu
A design forum running on Jan. 13 and 14 will see local and international experts discuss a range of issues relevant to the design industry such as the effects of urban landscapes on everyday living, exporting culture through design, and building for the future.
The workshop will provide an opportunity for community members to explore sustainable design, creative entrepreneurship, and the power of typography in graphic design and communication.
The City Hub, which has hosted other major events including the Fashion Commission’s annual Fashion Futures gathering, and Misk’s Entrepreneurship Day, is itself an example of the fluidity of design.
Bouzo noted that the coronavirus pandemic had reshaped the global approach to organizing festivals and events in terms of their impact on the cities and communities where they were held.
“We really need to start celebrating communities where they exist, and where the designers can actually start seeing them instead of congregating them in one place.
“I think it definitely helps make it more accessible because we want to expand our pool of target audiences; we want the general person who doesn’t think that design impacts them to actually feel what design is like,” Bouzo added.
A virtual program of sessions will also be run along with the activation of 22 initiatives by the Architecture and Design Commission, including the King Salman Charter for Architecture and Urbanism.
The commission’s Designathon program, that will take place from Feb. 2 to 4, will bring together 500 designers and specialists to solve key issues facing the design industry including social impact, health, luxury, and sustainability.
And the festival has seen the launch of a seat design competition, aimed at highlighting industrial design and its function as more than just a piece of furniture.
“Our community will continue to redefine design now, and in the future,” Bouzo said.
Formerly known as Saudi Design Week, the festival has expanded and adapted to the integration of innovative design in everyday life, the exploration of new liveable lifestyle options in the Kingdom, and the growth of the sector worldwide.
“We told the team to stop looking at benchmarking across countries. We’re going to create our own rules, we’re going to create our own structure. What works for Saudi will not work for London, it will not work for Paris. We are our own entity and will break the mold and make waves,” Bouzo added.
Organizers anticipate that next year’s festival will take in up to 70 locations around Riyadh.