Fatma Al Mahmoud from UAE Design Exhibition talks about the local talents exhibiting at Dubai Design Week

Fatma Al Mahmoud is the guest curator of the UAE Design Exhibition.

What can we expect from this edition of the Downtown Design’s UAE Designer Exhibit?

This edition of the Downtown Design’s UAE Designer Exhibit will showcase independent designers and studios that emphasize living spaces which embrace social impact and eco-consciousness. The designs are expected to be a fusion of innovation and cultural heritage, combining sustainability with social impact.

What criteria were used to shortlist designers for this segment? How extensive was the selection process?

Applications were submitted through open call which ran for three months and designers were chosen based on their works and dedication to creating living spaces that align with community values and prioritize sustainability. The selection process emphasized on functionality, cultural referencing, sustainability, and local production.

Palm Repose by Majid Al Bastaki
Palm Repose by Majid Al Bastaki

Was there any specific sector you saw more participation from? (furniture/art/accessories)?

With this being a key feature of Dubai Design Week and the exhibition being situated at the heart of the Downtown Design fair, the majority of participants focus functional objects, such as furniture and productdesign.

What does the UAE Designer Exhibition aim to achieve with this edition of the fair? Any plans after the event gets done?

The UAE Designer Exhibition aims to foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and responsibility, pushing the UAE’s creative industry towards sustainability and prosperity. It also seeks to celebrate cultural diversity and empower communities through impactful design. It’s an annual feature at the event in November, but ties into a year-round calendar of activities and outreach and of course is very close to the core of Dubai Design Week’s mandate to provide a platform for local talent.

Roots by Parallel Studios
Roots by Parallel Studios

Which primary materials stand out in the showcased designs?

The designs prioritizes locally-sourced and eco-friendly materials. Several designs integrate plants native to the UAE in unique ways, while others draw from cultural elements, ensuring the pieces are not only contextually relevant but also resource-efficient, amplifying their enduring significance and impact; such as cups made out of clay and date seeds, table from a palm trunks and seating out of recycled plastics bottles.

Are there any notable pieces you’d like to highlight? And any hints about the exhibition’s layout?

This edition of the exhibition is particularly significant as it showcases a blend of both renowned and emerging designers who have captured the essence of cultural inspirations in their designs. The pieces are not only a testament to the individual brilliance of each designer but also pay homage to the rich cultural tapestry of the region. As for the layout, it mirrors the UAE’s architectural landscape. Visitors will find themselves immersed in an environment that weaves cultural elements effortlessly, drawing from the architectural nuances that have shaped the region’s built environment for generations.

Art Deo by Diana Hawatmeh
Art Deo by Diana Hawatmeh

In your words, how has the region evolved in terms of design and what does fairs like Downtown Design  do for the same?

The region, especially the UAE, has seen a notable evolution in design, blending traditional aesthetics with modern innovation. Events like Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design act as catalysts, providing a platform for designers to showcase their work, collaborate, and learn. These events also promote the incorporation of sustainability, cultural heritage, and social impact into designs, ensuring the regional design landscape is not only contemporary but also rooted in its rich history and values.

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