November 13 marked the end of Dubai Design Week, an event dedicated to creativity with a program consisting of nearly 180 installations, product presentations, debates and meetings on a wide range of topics, from Design in the Metaverse to bioplastics. Dubai Design Week has developed around a core, that of Downtown Design, Middle East’s leading fair for original and high-quality design, showcasing international and regional exhibiting brands, manufacturers and designers. An event that grows year after year, full of dynamism. We discussed about it with Mette Degn-Christensen, Director of Dubai Design Week.
Downtown Design has reached its ninth iteration. How has the event evolved since its beginnings?
A lot has evolved since the beginning of Downtown Design, besides obviously growing in footprint but also launching Dubai Design Week as the umbrella festival surrounding the fair after its two first iterations and then building on to add Downtown Editions in 2018. Dubai and the wider region is an ever evolving market and we are always looking to grow and improve, but this year we are thrilled to have executed the most elevated edition of Downtown Design to date; and planning ahead for 2023 already.
Which are, in your opinion, Downtown Design’s points of strength? And which are its most unique features/characteristics?
Honing in on our core mission; being a place for discovery of the latest high-quality, contemporary design from around the world for industry audiences actively working on projects in the region, as well as end consumers, HNWI and collectors – but with an emphasis on commercial opportunity for exhibitors and participants.
What is quite unique to Downtown Design is that we are a boutique fair and plan to remain so, and an edited fair – which means that the selection remains relevant to our audiences as well as neighbouring exhibitors based on content, context and objectives, and that as essentially a design trade show we still are a cultural event and act as a platform for design talent, young studios or individual creatives to gain exposure and meet the relevant audiences in order to establish their studios and further their careers in design; examples are most participants in the Downtown Editions section, the UAE Designer Exhibition or the annual Tanween programme by Tashkeel which unveils their final works at the fair annually, alongside creative pop-ups that the fair hosts in every edition.
What are the aspects of Downtown Design that are the most attractive for its audience?
There is something for all different categories of our audiences, so it really depends on their profiles but overall it is delivering an engaging experience to discover the latest in the regional and global design scene.
Dubai is part of UNESCO’s “creative cities” network. Where does, in your opinion, Dubai’s creative force come from?
The government is very supportive of the creative scene and design education to encourage a new generation of up and coming designers and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, our partners, actively support the growth of the design and creative industries in the city. Dubai is not only evolving fast from the point of view of the economy and booming design sector as a knock-off effect thereof; it is also a focus on a place to thrive for those who live here and Dubai’s position as a UNESCO City of Design and a global creative capital is a testament to that.
Do you have plans for the future that can already be disclosed?
We are already planning ahead to build out on the current level we have brought Downtown Design to and to bring an even further advanced fair experience for both participants and visitors in 2023. Stay tuned as we will be making announcements in the coming months.