Movie: Cyril Zammit of Art Dubai explains how the inaugural Dubai Design Week aims to establish the city as a global design centre, in the first movie from a series produced by Dezeen for Dubai Design Week.
The first edition of Dubai Design Week ran from 26 to 31 October and showcased work by creatives from the United Arab Emirates and the surrounding region as well as a host of international designers and brands.
"Dubai Design Week is a platform for a lot of brand new talent from the region and, because it's Dubai, a very strong and open exchange platform with the world," says Zammit in the movie, which is the first in a series filmed in the city.
Zammit is director of design for Art Dubai, which organised Dubai Design Week.
The event is the organisation's latest initiative to establish Dubai as a creative hub after it launched the city's first art fair in 2007, set up collectible design fair Design Days Dubai in 2012 and started trade show Downtown Design in 2013.
Zammit says that bringing the global design community together in Dubai for a week each year is an important way to showcase what the city can offer the design industry.
"We have this chance here to have a lot of designers coming from all over the planet to mingle, to meet and discover," he says. "When we created Art Dubai ten years ago, we were opening the door to contemporary art; when we created Design Days Dubai in 2012, we opened the door to contemporary design. For Dubai Design Week we are opening the doors as well."
Dubai Design Week 2015 showcased regional talent via a series of 13 installations throughout the city.
"Nearly half of them are made by designers in the UAE," Zammit says. "It goes from an installation on the beach by Aljoud Lootah, then in the city you can see installations in the traditional Al Fahidi Historical District."
Six pavilions from Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian countries were commissioned as part of Dubai Design Week's Abwab programme.
Each pavilion was housed in temporary structures designed by Dubai-based architecture studio LOCI, which were clad in polycarbonate panels filled with sand.
"It's great for the designers from the region to have a window to be exposed and to be seen by international press, but also by their own peers," Zammit says.
Trade show Downtown Design also returned for its third edition, presenting a range of emerging and established international brands.
The show included six stands curated by other design weeks from around the world as part of its Destination programme.
"We have over 90 brands presenting," Zammit says. "Because we really want to be a discussion platform we have invited six design weeks from around the world with three emerging design brands, really bringing an element of discovery, which is important."
Global Grad Show presented graduate work from universities across Europe, America and Asia.
"Ten of the best design universities in the world are all here showcasing 50 projects under the same roof," Zammit explains.
"The growth rate of the design industry in the region is double the growth rate of the design industry worldwide," says Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, chief operating officer for Dubai Design District. "That's an opportunity for us."
Phase one of Dubai Design District was completed this year, while the Foster + Partners-designed second phase is due to be completed in 2018.
Modelled on the fashionable neighbourhoods of New York's Meatpacking District and east London's Shoreditch, the development will offer workshop and studio space for designers alongside shops and restaurants.
"All of that will be in one place," explains Al Shehhi. "Before, if designers had creative ideas they had to travel to Europe or America to do them. But now, they can come to Dubai."
Zammit believes that, with all the investment being put behind creative industries, there is a big opportunity for designers to settle in Dubai and start up new businesses.
"The city is very strong in entrepreneurship, which helps everyone come over here and do something new," he says. "You can come tomorrow, set up your own business and there you go, you can start. That's the beauty of it."