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 sixth and final interview in the series, we speak to Rue Kothari, fair director, Downtown Design.
How important are events such as Downtown Design for a creative economy?
Our organisation has a set of shared goals, which effectively translates into presenting content, which is both reflective of, and relevant for our regional industry. With commercial events such as Downtown Design, we attract brands and designers from all over the world, who are striving to develop their business in the region, and all of whom contribute to the creative economy of the UAE.
As the quality and reputation of what we produce evolves, the attraction for international design professionals will grow in tandem. We will definitely see a growth in the number of design buyers from the East coming to Dubai to discover local and regional designers, to do business easily and efficiently and to contribute to the creative economy.
How are you nurturing local talent?
We are champions of regional talent, with multiple platforms designed to provide opportunities for young designers to showcase their work. At Downtown Design and specifically in Downtown Editions, we actively support fledgling designers to connect with the market.
Meeting buyers and getting instant feedback on their work and potential commissions, gives designers the chance to develop their brand awareness and achieve commercial success. The idea is to nurture and grow the UAE’s first design brands.
This year in Editions, we are hosting regional design weeks from Casablanca, Saudi Arabia, Beirut and Amman. Sponsoring three up-and-coming design talents from each territory will help raise the profile of their design output and designers themselves, and most importantly open up a wider network of buyers and press, which our events and the city attracts.
What are the challenges and opportunities ahead for the fair?
Socio-economic factors will always affect business, and this is something that cannot be controlled.
In this market, it’s crucial to meet your client’s objectives and deliver an excellent experience. Establishing a strong USP and being bold, creative and flexible will help us retain client loyalty and sustain growth.
Aside from putting the citys design industry on the global map, Dubais recognition as one of the members of the United Creative Cities Network (UCCN), demonstrates how the city is investing in design to create communities, build infrastructure and boost all the design sectors from architecture and interior design to industrial and product design.
As a marketing tool, it’s invaluable in telling this story in a credible way to the international design community at large.
We’re inextricably tied to the development of the region’s creative community. The international brands and regional buyers that we attract to Dubai contribute to the economy by doing business here, establishing new offices and showrooms, creating partnerships and employing staff. In addition, they bring their expertise, create opportunities for new designers and create relationships that have a bearing on the economy in the long run.