Stella + the Stars' guide to Dubai Design Week 2016

There was sadly no London Design Festival for me this year. Blame our recent move across the world to settle in the Arabian desert... BUT, thankfully there were no design withdrawal symptoms either, as guess what's happening next week? Dubai Design Week kicks off on Monday 24th October. Cue way too many 'hands raised up in the air in celebration' emojis...

Now, the thing is, with over 150 events running across town, it can seem a little bit overwhelming to say the least, especially if you're a newbie like me. So if you're keen to get your dose of design but don't really where to start, fear not, I have put together a little Design Week Guide, edited the Stella + the Stars way, with my suggested itinerary of the top events not to miss. But, first, for all the Dubai Design Week virgins out there, let's start the festivities with a little background. Get your notepads at the ready. 

BYAHE: A TYPOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION, one of the many events held during Dubai Design Week | Image credit: Ape Creative

BYAHE: A TYPOGRAPHIC EXPLORATION, one of the many events held during Dubai Design Week | Image credit: Ape Creative

What is Dubai Design Week?
Dubai Design Week is one of the world’s newest international design events (this year will be the second edition), and aims to celebrate Dubai as a leading design hub, and share the UAE’s thriving design scene with, erm, the rest of the world... There will be dozens of events and activities (I am talking workshops, debates, exhibitions, launches the lot!) taking place around the city and in particular, d3, the heart of the Design District, which will become alive with showrooms, architect studios and interiors consultants opening their doors to the public, and launching new collections. I am excited just writing this... 

When is it taking place? 
Events will run every single day from Monday 24th till Saturday 29th October. 
Opening hours are:
24 October | 2pm- 9pm
25 – 28 October | 10am – 9pm
29 October | 9am – 6pm

Who's behind Dubai Design Week?
The annual event was established in 2015 by Art Dubai Group in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), and supported the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. 

How can you attend?
Design Week is totally free and open to the public, all you need to do is show up. Except for Downtown Design where you'll need to register your attendance online. Still totally free though. 

What you shouldn't miss?
Right, now for the exciting stuff. In no particular order (just kidding, I mean, Tom Dixon's pop up, AND French Design, people! Of course they're at the top), these are the events on my to-do list for next week. I have listed events taking place in d3 as well as those happening around town. 


The French Institute presents "20 icons of French design" in a pop up exhibition in d3, that will display famous productions of the most infuencial French designers, since the late 1920s until the XXIst century, from Philippe Starck to Jean Prouvé, from Pierre Paulin to the Bouroullec brothers. I mean, need I say more?
When: 24 - 29 October
Where: Building 7, Retail Unit 01, Dubai Design District (d3)
More details: 20 icons of French design


The first ever Tom Dixon pop-up store in the Middle East, peeps. Do I really need to say anything else?! Actually I do... My spies tell me a new Tom Dixon cafe is soon to be opening in Dubai... I'll be the first customer ordering that latte in copper cup, you know it. 
When: 24 - 29 October
Where: Building 7, Retail Unit R02, Dubai Design District (d3)
More details: Tom Dixon at Dubai Design Week


One of Dubai's coolest interiors boutique, Cities, will be hosting an in-store exhibition filled with inspiration and ideas to add personality and charm to your home, with a curated selection of designs, extensive options available when personalising a space.
When: 24 - 29 October | 10am - 10pm
Where: Cities Store, Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah and Cities X Novikov restaurant & bar.
More detailsDecor with Depth Exhibition


To celebrate the launch of their new office space, interior & architecture design studio SFD (Super Future Design) have collaborated with Italian furniture brand Moroso to create an ephemeral botanical installation with the Moroso’s M’Afrique Collection. This unique and colourful collection is designed by renowned names such as Tord Boontje, Patricia Urquiola, Sebastian Herkner and many more. Expect stunning pieces with an African inspiration and lots of palm trees... 
When: 25 October | 5:30pm – 9:30pm
26 - 27 October | 9:30am – 7pm
28 October | 12am – 5pm
Where: Super Future Design Showroom, Building 8, Office 201, Dubai Design District (d3)
More details: Contact Super Future Design


Eearlier this year, the design world mourned the loss of Zaha Hadid, one of the world's most renowned and avant-garde architects, who tragically passed away at the age of 65. Grounded within the study of landscape and field across Hadid’s larger oeuvre, this panel discussion, moderated by Iraq-born architect Rand Abdul Jabbar and organised in association with Zaha Hadid Architects, will seek to engage a conversation around the late architect’s legacy and work within the Arab world.
When: 25 October | 6 - 7pm
Where: The Atrium, Building 4, Dubai Design District (d3)
More details: Dubai Design Week website


Downtown Design is the region’s design trade fair and will return for its fourth edition as the commercial centrepiece of Dubai Design Week. Bringing together over 100 brands from 25 countries, the event has become an important fixture in the design calendar for both international brands and buyers from the Middle East and will once again be held at d3. Visitors will discover the latest products across furniture, lighting, bathrooms, kitchens, textiles and accessories. A good opportunity for all design afficionados to spot the new talent. 
When: 25 October | 6 - 9pm
26 - 27 October | 6 - 9pm
28 October | 1.30 - 9pm
Where: Downtown Design tent, Dubai Design District
More details: Downtown Design website


Byahe is an exhibition and film screening by design studio Ape Creative that explores the culture and the craft of hand painted lettering on signage. The core inspiration for Byahe arose out of an interest of hand painted signage usually found on vehicles in the Philippines. Byahe will explore how people connect through their stories, travels and experiences by using elements of typography and design on signage exemplified in collaborative effort of the designers of Ape Creative. The exhibition is a celebration of the slowly dying craft of hand painted signage that often overlooked and or ignored.
When: 24 - 29 October | 10am - 8pm
Where: FN Designs, Warehouse 26, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz
More details: Design Week website


This sounds like it will be a fun exhibition celebrating 25 years of the Swedish giant's presence in the UAE. The 'life at home' exhibition will be divided into 3 sections: democratic design, the IKEA roots and the global trends in life at home outside the shop floor.
When: 24 - 29 October
Where: Building 7, Atrium, Dubai Design District (d3)
More details: IKEA at Design Week


Mishmashi is a a really lovely furniture brand based in Dubai that uses colour and pattern to create some striking and quirky designs, using their motto: 'industrial chic' living. They'll be unveiling their new collection of poofs, using their signature style with patchwork of patterned fabrics, as well as launching limited editions pieces from the new poof collection (expect feathers and flowers)during Dubai Design Week. 
When: 26 - 29 October | 9am - 6pm
Where: Mishmashi Studios, Street 6a, Warehouse B32, Al Quoz 3
More details: Mishmashi website


This is the first solo exhibition of the French artist Bernar Venet in Dubai and will showcases an overview of his works based on the variations of the line. The highlight of the show is a monumental cor-ten steel Arc sculpture of 6.5 meters installed at the entrance of the gallery. The exhibition also features a selection of new and recent steel sculptures from his Arc, Angles and GRIB series as well as works on paper on the GRIB and Angles.
When: 24 October – 29 October | 10am - 7pm
Where: Custot Gallery, Unit No. 84, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz 1
More details: Custot Gallery


If like me you are partial to a statement rug, you might like this event. Leading furniture dealer superstudio will present an exclusive, Design Your Own Carpet competition, in collaboration with Moooi Carpets and Moooi founder and artistic director Marcel Wanders. The winning design, will be announced, unveiled and presented by superstudio in Harper's Bazaar Café during Dubai Design Week. And it will be produced as a rug and printed with Moooi Carpets’ high-definition full colour carpet printing technology, and also added to their Signature collection. 
When: 25 October | 6pm
Where: Harper's Bazaar Café, Dubai Design District (d3)
More details: superstudio website

If that doesn't keep you occupied for the whole of next week, just visit the Dubai Design Week's full 6-day programme or you can view all the events on an interactive map. 

See you there!