With pop-up fashion boutiques, streams of specialist food trucks, a large stage featuring a non-stop line-up of DJs, live music and on-site art installations, last weekend’s Meet d3 was a celebration of all things cultural.
The event, staged inside the newly inaugurated Dubai Design District, was a way of introducing the public to the area, which will be functioning as a business park for the fashion, art and design industries when the offices are filled over the next six months.
Spread out over the large outdoor spaces between the buildings, the event, which ran from Thursday to Saturday, was a sneak peek into what the completed district will look like when it is fully operational.
The park promises to be characterised by distinct public areas and unique street furniture under shaded walkways.
At the weekend, Emirati designer Khalid Shafar unveiled his newest design, City Bench – an unevenly levelled bench to accommodate people of all ages and sizes.
Familiar international names will also be moving into the park. Lasvit, the Czech glass company – one of the most prestigious global brands in its field – will be moving its Dubai office into the district this year.
The Lasvit team, including director Leon Jakimic, was on site this weekend, demonstrating the art of glass blowing and allowing visitors to have a go.
It also revealed plans for two massive, permanent installations for the district. One is a 20-metre suspended glass sculpture of a wave, embedded with interactive LED lights. The other consists of 75 crystal-clear rods controlled by 150 engines that enable them to move and change the shape of the sculpture.
“Lasvit is known for combining glass with design and craft for bespoke installations for the most prestigious interiors world wide,” Jakimic says. “What we are doing for d3 is pushing it one step further, combining this with technology. This is something new not only for Lasvit, but for the world of design and art.”
Meet d3 was also a chance for local talent to get their names known. Marwan Shakarchi, or Myneandyours, was one of four artists whose logos were being printed on customised T-shirts from Hit + Run, a screen-printing collective from Los Angeles.
Two huge public murals were also installed and attracted selfie-taking crowds.
Representatives of the California-based street artist Shepard Fairey – also known as Obey, and one of the best-known street artists in the world – were in Dubai to complete a 30-metre mural, and Ben Eine, a British artist who recently painted the exterior wall of the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi, painted the words Hand in Hand along some of the temporary wall structures.
Other art pieces included a metal, typographic sculpture in which the words of a Kahlil Gibran poem in English and Arabic were suspended, twirling in the wind.
And from Japanese design duo Masakazu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki, also known as Wink Space, there was a structure made of semi-solid panels covered in reflective sheets, connected with zips to form a tunnel – a system that the duo call zipper architecture.
“It is a good opportunity to get inspiration from many sources,” says Noha Hassan, a 31-year-old graphic designer who was visiting the event. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came down here and I am really surprised at all the different things there are to experience.”
• For more information about Dubai Design District and Meet d3, visit www.dubaidesigndistrict.com