The 2020 edition of Dubai Design Week is a hybrid platform of digital (e.g. virtual talks and fair) and outdoor events that make the most of a global online audience and—for those attending IRL—nine hours of daily sunshine and ample space to maintain social distance.
Dubai Downtown Design’s (D3) outdoor IRL retail marketplace features local and regional design and food, and takes place the weekend of 13-14 November. Marketplace kiosks by architects Reema Almheiri and Lujain Alatiq won the D3 Urban Commission with their modular design inspired by the basat (carpet) of Arab markets. Carpets were the traditional backdrop used by market traders to display their goods. A prototype kiosk will be on display at D3.
Exhibitions, installations, talks, workshops and retail opportunities reflect a programme devised to address concerns of the global pandemic. D3 themes include design responses during Covid and how design may change in a post-Covid world. D3’s ‘UAE Designer Exhibition’ features works by twenty local and UAE-based creatives including textiles by Dana Amro. The Design for Sharing section features 17 hand-picked artists including Dubai-based Cecilia Setterdahl (see COVER 45, Winter 2016) and the rugs she designs for her company Carpets CC.
Inspiration from further afield is staged at D3’s ‘The Best of Portugal’ featuring an IRL concept home filled with Portuguese design including Ferreira de Sá rugs. The company’s handmade rugs feature techniques including the ‘Beiriz stitch’, a unique hand-knotted Portuguese rug technique and a valuable ‘company asset’ of Ferreira de Sá. Also in the space are examples of João Bruno Videira’s wool yarn furniture (ottomans, chairs, benches) which he hand wraps and weaves in vibrant geometric patterns.
If a single work at Dubai Design Week can be said to capture the global mood in 2020, we nominate Faig Ahmed’s conceptual Doubts rug. The Azerbaijani artist—finalist for the Jameel Prize 2013 and featured in COVER 31, Summer 2013—created the hand-knotted rug during global quarantine. The rug hangs on a wall like a ‘normal’ traditional carpet, but as the eye travels down, the pattern ‘unravels’, slides, and spreads across the floor like a liquid pool of Murano millefiori glass. At its most basic interpretation the rug captures the trajectory of 2020 during our global pandemic, but it also reminds us that behind the closed doors of lockdown, global designers are adapting to new realities, creating new dialogues, and engaging and challenging us as they reach out virtually and IRL.