Prada Mode has arrived in Dubai.
The eagerly awaited temporary cultural space has opened its doors in the Dubai International Financial Centre. The space will host talks, foster conversations and bring together the worlds of art and fashion in the UAE, if only for a few days — it is open until Saturday.
Until then, however, visitors can soak up the ambiance of a series of talks and dialogues, in an interior created specifically for the site by British artist Damien Hirst, who has reimagined his famous Pharmacy work of 1992. Hirst rebuilt a chemist shop in an art gallery in New York, which then became the interior for a restaurant of the same name in 1998.
Exploring the very human fear of death, the work has always been a commentary on how we look to outrun death with medicine and medical intervention.
Now completely reworked for the Dubai Prada Mode site, the walls have been covered with cabinets of prescription medicine, filled with empty bottles, all sourced in the UAE. As with the original work, the medicine is still arranged in correlation to the human body, with remedies for the head at the top, and lotions for feet at the bottom.
In the centre of the space is a circular bar, with sides covered in colourful images of pills, while the stools have cushions that resemble tablets. A giant bottle of a cough syrup even sits in the centre. Fake human skeletons, some even arranged into an unsettling chandelier-type arrangement, hang from the ceiling.
Elsewhere, hugely oversized capsules lie on the floor, while pillars are covered in wallpaper left over from the restaurant. Fittingly for Hirst, the wallpaper looks like pretty patterns until a closer look reveals it to be the most popular prescription drugs in the UK.
The second room at the back is also wallpapered in colourful flowers that hide a darker secret. Peer closely, and you will notice that cigarettes have been stubbed out on the blooms. This same room houses the spinning wheels that allow visitors to chance their hand at making their own version of a Hirst Spin Painting.
Wearing a protective lab coat, people can have a go at pouring paint on to spinning paper, to make a unique pattern. Be careful, though — the paint has a tendency to fly.
Prada Mode is the brainchild of the Italian luxury house Prada, and was conceived as an art and conversation space where like-minded people could meet to learn and discuss over light food and drinks. The Dubai version is the latest of this travelling concept, which has already visited Los Angeles, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Miami, Shanghai and Moscow.
The Dubai space is only the second one Hirst has created for Prada Mode, having previously worked on the Moscow rendition. There, Hirst and his team had to work within a small two-storey house.
In Dubai, the space is much larger. It is flooded with light and even has an outside terrace. Tasked with designing Pharmacy to fit the new space, all of the fixtures and furniture were custom-made in the UK and then shipped to the UAE.