Design Days Dubai, the first and only contemporary design fair in the Middle East and Asia brings an impressive selection of original pieces by established and emerging designers to The Venue, the purpose-built exhibition space near the base of the iconic Burj Khalifa in Emaar’s Downtown Dubai.
This year’s Fair focuses on some interesting themes in contemporary design such as falconry, philanthropy, craftsmanship, culture and creative use of unusual materials.
This year, the traditional falconry culture of the region will be represented with the Posa Project presented by the Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Italian designer Massimo Faion has been commissioned to create a beautiful yet practical perch for falcons to rest upon during training. The perch can be dismantled and adapted to suit different surfaces and environments and has been made from brass. Live falcons on the stand will demonstrate the perch.
FBMI, the Fatima Bint Mohammed Initiative, based in Abu Dhabi, blends entrepreneurship with sustainability. Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Hohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahayan has set up a project to offer employment and training for women in the weaving industry. The carpets produced through FBMI are made from Afghan wool and sold to support the project. There will be demonstrations of traditional weaving at the stand.
Naqsh Design House, established by Nermeen Naqsh and her two sisters, Shireen and Nisreen (an architect), produces designs and artwork inspired by contemporary and traditional Arabic aesthetics. This collection is based on traditional needlework and incorporates the language of ‘tatreez’ (embroidery) which has been interpreted on new surfaces such as engraved corian and brass. The sisters recently held an auction of artworks in support of people who’ve been injured in the conflict in Gaza.
A feature of this year’s fair is the number of accomplished women designers and entrepreneurs who will be represented.
Nada Debs, based in Lebanon and widely regarded as the most celebrated furniture designer in the Middle East, will mark 10 years in the industry with the presentation of a specially created piece and examples of previous work. She intends to look forward rather than back. Debs is regarded as the inspiration for the term ‘craft cool’ and has developed new ways of using traditional materials and ancient techniques in a contemporary way. “My designs are a metaphor for all the different elements of my life influences,” she says.
Lebanese design foundation, House of Today, presents a series of limited edition works under the heading ‘Naked – Beyond the social mask’ which invites designers to work outside their comfort zone. For example, Naja El Zein collection called Sensorial Brushes features pieces made from unusual materials such as nails, eyelashes and feathers.
Craft and Technology
The new Brass Collection by Zhoujie Zhang will be shown by Gallery ALL from Beijing, China. Zhoujie’s works and design principles are taken from the philosophies of Taoism. This new collection transforms digital programmes into real objects. Aljoud Lootah, based in Dubai has taken inspiration from geometric motifs to create original furniture.
German designer Jan Kath has broken with traditional carpet making techniques to develop his means of ‘eroding’ the surface of woven rugs to make look as if they’ve been walked upon by generations of people. He has produced a new carpet which will be shown for the first time by Iwan Maktabi.
Wiener Silber Manufactur, established in 1882, has worked closely with avant-garde artists throughout its history. For Design Days Dubai, the gallery will present a collection of silver vases by Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid.
Nakkash Gallery, based in Dubai, is offering an array of limited edition art pieces, furniture and accessories. Amongst the striking pieces on show will be a selection of sideboards by Portuguese designer, Jorje Moura, who combines material in a highly imaginative and creative way, reflecting his passion for architecture, fashion and nature.
This year a popular item which has attracted the attention of designers is the gentleman’s valet and several will be on show at the fair including an example by Fiona Barratt-Campbell and by David Nicolas and Claude Missir for House of Today.