Here are eight exhibitors and events not to miss at this year’s Design Days Dubai.
The Lumière installation by Commonplace Studio promises to be a highlight of this year’s fair. The piece aims to remind us of the beauty of clouds – the real thing, rather than the ones we more commonly think of in an age of cloud computing, ubiquitous networks and unseen data centres. For Lumière, a total of 28 pendant lamps are suspended in space; embedded into each bulb is a custom-built micro-projector that sends images of moving skies onto the frosted underside of each bulb. The view differs depending on your vantage point and serves as “a reminder that having your head in the clouds is truly a beautiful thing”.
2. Posa Project
The Posa Project, designed by Massimo Faion and presented by Beirut’s Carwan Gallery, will make its world debut at Design Days Dubai. It’s a decidedly UAE-friendly affair – an installation of four collectable falcon perches, complemented by a live falcon show. For this collection, Faion reimagined the traditional sport of falconry in a modern context and combined solid beech rings with bases crafted from Italian marble, with brass, gold and matte-silver finishes. Proving that functionality is key, however beautiful your creation, the perches can be separated from their sturdy bases and pitched directly into the sand.
3. Popcorn Boxes Workshop
Design Days Dubai’s expansive public programme features talks, workshops and film screenings designed to educate and entertain. Among the workshops are a portfolio review and mentorship session for up-and-coming designers, a lesson in steam-bending wood by the designer Stefano Santilli and an exploration of Arabic letterforms with Lara Assouad. But we’d head to the Popcorn Boxes Workshop, which will see the pop-art-inspired Lebanese designer Rana Salam (pictured), in collaboration with Cinema Akil, help participants create their own unique popcorn boxes using visual elements gathered from their immediate surroundings. The best-designed box will be used to serve popcorn to attendees of the fair’s film screenings on Friday.
• Tuesday, 4.30pm to 6.30pm, Studio, free admission, registration necessary
4. Film screenings
As part of its efforts to educate visitors on the history of design, this year’s Design Days Dubai will feature two film screenings. These include a 26-minute look at the genius behind Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona Chair, which was designed in 1929 to furnish the German Pavilion at the International Exposition in Barcelona, but remains a classic to this day. The second film will look at Serge Mouille’s Black Lamps from 1953.
• March 20, 5pm to 6pm, Studio, free admission
The UAE’s own carpet company, the Fatima Bint Mohammed Initiative, will exhibit for the second time at Design Days Dubai. As part of its 2015 showcase, the brand will display a selection of carpets designed for FBMI by the fashion designer Norma Kamali. Also on display will be the new Stone Wash collection, which uses a traditional antique wash process in which natural vegetable dyes are used in the carpet knotting. Finally, FBMI will offer demonstrations of carpet weaving and wool spinning, followed by a hands-on experience for any visitor wishing to try their hand at the art of knot tying.
6. World Design Capital Taipei 2016
Several pieces by Taiwanese designers will be on display at the fair as part of Design Days Dubai’s Special Projects. This showcase is part of Taiwan’s efforts to highlight the talent of its home-grown designers following Taipei’s recent appointment as the World Design Capital 2016. Based on the concept of overcoming the limitations of resources, a number of the showcased pieces will incorporate traditional practices – such as bamboo weaving – with a modern twist
7. Audi Design Talk: David/Nicolas
The founders of the Beirut-based studio David/Nicolas will take to the stage during Design Days Dubai’s Audi Design Talk series for an hour-long discussion on the brand’s “retro futuristic” approach. Founded in 2011 by David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem, the gallery aims to create timeless works of art that reference a variety of design periods. Earlier this year, David/Nicolas collaborated with the Lebanese non-profit design initiative House of Today to showcase the Loulou/Hoda installation. This was the brand’s first solo exhibition and featured 20 pieces that came together to create a visual reconstruction of a Lebanese grandmother’s home.
• Monday, 6pm to 7pm, Studio, free admission
8. House of Today
Established in 2012, the non-profit, collaborative design platform House of Today will exhibit for the first time at this year’s fair. The initiative will present an edited version of Naked: Beyond the Social Mask, first displayed last December in Beirut. House of Today’s primary focus is to identify, showcase, nurture and connect with up-and-coming Lebanese designers. Founded by the Lebanese entrepreneur Cheirine Magrabi Tayeb, the organisation also aims to provide a platform for these designers to build their profiles and communicate with an international audience.