Dubai, and the Middle East as a whole, is a bustling epicentre for innovation and exploration. When you consider that in the grand scheme of the world, Dubai is relatively new to the global economy, having gone through a boom 50 years ago because of their oil. Capitalising on this ‘youth’, Dubai has been able to build itself up and out of the desert, and has recently become a place for unhindered design and discovery. Dubai Design Week, now in its third year, is an event that seeks to further establish Dubai as a thriving global design center while aspiring to promote UAE-based design talent and celebrate the city’s innovative and forward-thinking approach.
The event wrapped up last week, but we are still working our way through the incredible installations, projects and presentations that were featured. This year, each participant seemed to bring their A-game, so it’s hard to pick just one, but here are some of the jaw-dropping designs that we can’t enough of.
Featured as part of the Global Grad Show – an showcase of over 90 international design schools – this clever concept actually took home the award for the Progress Prize. Essentially MIKO+ is a range of physiotherapeutic jewellery that focus on rehabilitating the wrists, a commonly stressed joint as a result of our use of computers. Designed by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska – Domestic Design graduates of the School of Form in Poland – MIKO+ offers an attractive alternative to traditional braces in the form of brass and mineral acrylic composite. The perfect marriage of function and aesthetic.
Also shown as part of the Global Grad show, Folks was designed by Kevin Chiam from The University of Singapore. The concept of his design was to create kitchen utensils for the blind. With an genius range of items that reintroduce kitchen items in a tactile way, his products include retractable guards for sharp knives and a tray that attaches to the side of a chopping, which aids in transferring ingredients. He also designed stove rings that accentuate the burner’s boundaries that prevent burns and form a stable base for base, as well as a buoyant teaspoon that alerts the user to the liquid’s level. We love that Folks empowers the blind and gives them their independence back.
Set up by Boano Prišmontas and Ricardas Blazukas as a living installation in the design district, Aidah features 50 large black balloons attached to the ground. These are a representation of Dubai and other Middle Eastern cities and how their economic boom has allowed them to build enormous cities out of nothing. As they float and react with the environment, this echoes how these cities are affected by global trends and economies, and the chance that they could deflate or even float away at anytime represents the cities’ risks of doing them.
Imagined by Frederikson Stallard, Prologue was displayed in the center of Dubai Design District throughout the whole of Dubai Design Week. Originally created in 2014, Prologue is a larger-than-life circular sculpture featuring more than 8,000 topaz-colored Swarovski crystals, which shimmer as they reflect and catch the desert light. Striking, luxurious and impactful, this installation seems to sum up the wonder of Dubai.