This year's Dubai Design Week to explore the way we will live in the future

The festival returns to Dubai Design District from November 9 to 14 with a focus on regional talent and post-pandemic solutions

Social-distancing solutions have become the order of the day, and where better than a design festival to come across creative ways in which we can work and socialise in a post-pandemic landscape? The sixth Dubai Design Week, which returns to Dubai Design District from November 9 to 14, seeks to reimagine the way we will live in the future.

This year's programme has a two-pronged approach, an outcome of the restrictions and requirements in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The festival will ensure its installations are all outdoors and able to abide by social-distancing norms. Owing to travel and logistical limitations, the event will give centre stage to more local designers than ever before, and highlight the role they play in redefining the importance of effective design in a Covid-19-hit world. Here are some highlights from this year's programme.

Abwab

The exhibition, which has been a linchpin of Dubai Design Week since 2015, typically features several pavilions each year from countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, in order to offer an insight into the region's rich design scene. This year, however, just the one pavilion has been commissioned. Iraqi designer Hozan Zangana will create Fata Morgana, which focuses on the framework of a modern-day city through an open-plan arrangement of components around a central origin point. Addressing the need for shelter, respite and relaxation, the concept also allows social distancing in an organic manner for visitors to have a safe experience. Given the festival's focus on the UAE, the 2020 pavilion also features pillars symbolic of each of the seven emirates.

Outdoor installations

The main Abwab pavilion aside, D3 will be home to a number of installations created by designers and studios with a view to responding to the changes and challenges arising from the need for physical distancing. Look out for the convertible seats put together by Emirati designers Khalid Shafar, Aljoud Lootah and Hamad Khoory; and a contemporary take on the ancient Persian paradise garden, an antidote for enclosed spaces, by Studio Meshary AlNassar from Kuwait and Cosentino.

Downtown Design

The trade show will be held in a hybrid format this year, with both a physical exhibition and a new digital fair to connect international and regional brands with buyers, architects and interior designers online. The exhibition, entitled The Shape of Things to Come, is a multimedia display that features conceptual work by the region's architects and interior designers, as they imagine how we will interact with our environment and each other in months and years to come. Three intriguing examples include: an innovative pedestrian network; design solutions for places of worship and the evolution of air travel.

Urban Commissions

This segment invited architects and designers from the Mena region to devise an innovative solution unit for a new outdoor market experience. The winning proposal was made by Emirati designer Reema Muhairy and Saudi Arabian designer Lujain Alatiq. They suggested a modular kiosk that functions as an individual unit or as part of an ensemble, housing stores, galleries and workshops. The kiosk features a cost-efficient design that uses sustainable materials, allows for easy storage and can be adapted to display various product categories efficiently, all while evoking a traditional outdoor market feel.

Basta, which gets its name from the Arabic word for a carpet used by traders to display a range of wares to passers-by, is being developed and will launch at Dubai Design Week on November 9.

UAE designer exhibition and marketplace

Dubai Design Week is set on promoting home-grown talent this year by offering designers who live in the UAE a platform to present their projects and ideas. A curated exhibition staged in D3 will display work across design disciplines such as furniture, material experimentation, sustainable and innovative crafts, home accessories and jewellery.

Likewise, the Dubai Design Week marketplace is a new outdoor initiative that invites more than 60 vendors to offer products made or sourced locally, spanning categories such as fashion, jewellery, homeware, beauty and food.

Mena Grad Show

An exhibition presented by the Global Grad Show platform, this will highlight projects envisioned by design, science and tech students, working around the theme of social impact innovation. The inaugural edition received more than 200 submissions from 35 universities based in the Middle East and North Africa.