Dubai continues to leverage design and innovation to transform into a knowledge-based economy. We speak to the individuals helming the entities who are aiming to catapult the city into the region's foremost design destination with a global reckoning. In our fourth interview, we speak to Rawan Kashkoush, head of programming, Dubai Design Week.
What makes Dubai Design Week special?
Dubai Design Week (DXBDW) is owned and operated by the Art Dubai Group, which is responsible for the two major cultural months of the Dubai calendar, attracting visitors from all over the world to the city. While March has been dedicated to art for the past 13 years, DXBDW takes place in November.
We operate as a funnel that gathers content from across the UAE, the region and the rest of the world, connecting various creative and commercial entities. DXBDW acts as a testbed for what is possible in the Middle East, and performs as a major global player, hosting international experts and brands on our stage and in our trade show, Downtown Design. The annual event contributes towards making Dubai a more liveable city for its residents by generating cultural experiences, and by attracting the global creative community to come to the UAE.
What are some of the highlights of this year's edition of DXBDW?
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created to promote cooperation with and among cities which have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. What this should mean to the world is that Dubai is ready and able to commit to sharing its learnings, its successes and opportunities and find ways of collaborating with the international design community. Ideally, this should increase opportunities for the region’s designers, here and abroad. This has already commenced with a strong representation by the Saudi Arabian design community at the 2018 edition of DXBDW.
One of the highlights of the DXBDW programme is based on an open call inviting residents of the UAE and international creatives to submit their interest to participate.
We play matchmaker between spaces and designers, pulling together panelists from across the community to engage in knowledge exchange, match funding or material sponsors for designers looking to experiment with built structures.
This year, Abwab, the annually remodelled exhibition of regional design, will commission local architects Architecture + Other Things to design the pavilions within which the content sits. As one of the five pavilions, Dubai’s homegrown talent, Hind Bin Demaithan and Saeed Al Madani, have been tasked with designing the interiors. The premise is to express the essence of their city through storytelling and sound.
The Middle East’s leading design trade fair Downtown Design, the commercial centrepiece of DXBDW, will also feature an annexed exhibition, Downtown Editions, dedicated to limited-edition products specifically aimed at shining a spotlight on local and regional designers.
Global Grad Show, a programme curated to present the best design projects by the world’s leading design universities, will exhibit the works of the UAE’s top students.
Through Downtown Design, we seed opportunities for international companies to collaborate with regional talent, presenting hybrid perspectives to be shared. Dubai. Newly established is a co-curated collaboration with MENA design festivals: Amman, Beirut, Casablanca and Saudi Design Weeks, uniting with DXBDW to display and promote their respective design talent at Downtown Editions.
The strengthening of the cultural and commercial ties means bolstering our efforts and expanding opportunities for a more connected global creative community.
A majority of Dubai Design District plays host to the content that we weave together while also inviting visitors to experience the studios of the tenants.
What are the challenges ahead?
The economies of neighbouring countries with whom we wish to do business and bridge our networks simply are not as stable as that of the UAE. Creating relationships between us is having to be aware of that imbalance and working towards finding solutions and opportunities to strengthen that bridge.
Another challenge remains the heavy burden of logistics and shipping when it comes to exchanging goods, though we find ways to promote craft and production industries of regional design scenes. We are here to encourage UAE-based making and manufacturing.