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Downtown Design's 10th edition will showcase international and emerging Dubai talent

Promotion: 2023 marks the 10th edition of Downtown Design, the Middle East's leading design fair dedicated to "contemporary design, connectivity and discovery".

Downtown Design is the anchor event of Dubai Design Week, which is billed as the region's most important creative festival, cementing Dubai as the design capital of the Middle East.

Each year, the event brings together a roster of established names in the design industry as well as independent design studios and emerging regional and international talent.

Photo La Nena Home at Downtown Design 2022
The fair is the annual point of connection for contemporary design in the Middle East. Image: La Nena Home at Downtown Design 2022.

Downtown Design takes place from 8 to 11 November 2023 and will showcase products by international design brands such as Dedar, Flexform, MillerKnoll and Kartell.

Bespoke lighting manufacturer Lasvit, luxury carpet maker Illulian, sustainable design surface company Cosentino, contemporary handmade rugs maker cc-tapis and outdoor furniture specialists Ethimo are also part of the line up.

 hvíla editions at Downtown Design 2022
Downtown Design showcases contemporary design, including limited-edition objects. Image: hvíla editions at Downtown Design 2022.

Downtown Editions, the fair's boutique section is dedicated to limited-edition and bespoke design, smaller scale productions, independent designers, collectives and creative studios.

The organisers say it will benefit from access to public visitors and design professionals looking to discover, buy or commission handmade, collectible and artisanal design pieces.

Colourful screens at Dubai Design Week
Downtown Design aims to cement Dubai as the design capital of the Middle East. Image: FEMM Amsterdam. Photo by NJstudio.

New works on show this year include illuminated woven timber works by Australian industrial designer Edward Linacre and handmade furniture by Singapore-based furniture brand, Akar de Nissim.

Also exhibited are limited-edition lights by South African Arkivio informed by African design and Aleeya – a Pakistani design studio debuting A* alittlemore studio, which produce furniture.

Each year, the event brings together a roster of established names in the design industry. Image: Chess Collection by Adam Nathaniel Furman. Photo by Lara Zankoul

Alongside annual country-specific showcases from design capitals around the globe including Italy and Spain, exhibiting for the first time is a series of craft collections from Turkey, Colombia, South Korea and the Netherlands that blend traditional and modern techniques and perspectives.

In addition, a series of daily live talks, panel discussions and masterclasses will take place at The Forum.

This year, as one of the key speakers, Lidewij Edelkoort will join The Forum for the first time and share her insights into her work in promoting sustainability and encouraging ethical practices in the design industry.

Jwana Hamdan's furniture
The event will showcase Middle Eastern and international design talent. Image: Jwana Hamdan

Dubai-based businessman, art and design collector, Elie Khouri will also debut Cassina at the event, following the launch of the brand's first standalone Dubai showroom in March.

Downtown Design aims to showcase the changes and evolution in Dubai's design industry, particularly the boost in demand for contemporary design, which is a result of Dubai's growing estate market, according to Khouri.

In an interview published on the design fair's website, Khouri – who through Vivium Holding, has recently taken over regional operations of high-end Italian furniture brand Cassina said: "Dubai today is a different place than the Dubai of yesterday".

Panel discussions with participants
A number of panel discussions will take place

Noting how for 30 years the local market has been an unpredictable and volatile market because it was based on speculation, he continued: "It was based on people buying real estate, flipping it and selling it. It was an investment market. Since Covid-19, it has become an end-user market."

"Now, I believe there has been a huge shift in the city of Dubai from a place where people come to make a quick buck versus a place now where people come to stay, enjoy life and the city and have a primary or secondary home," said Khouri.

Sculptural art piece
Downtown Dubai aims to cement Dubai as the design capital of the Middle East. Image: Edward Linacre

Khouri's statements are backed by a report issued by real estate services firm CBRE that showed how demand for property in the United Arab Emirates' commercial capital hit a record high during the first two months of 2023.

In February alone, Dubai's residential market saw 8,515 transactions — a 3.9 per cent increase from the previous year. January and February together clocked a total of 17,741 residential transactions.

Panel talks
The panel talks at The Forum aim to prompt discussion surrounding important issues in the design and architecture industry

The report suggested that demand had been fuelled by geopolitical and economic instability in Europe and the Emirates' successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw an influx of residents from Europe, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Canada, China and Lebanon, Egypt and Russia, among others.

Comparing Dubai to cities like Miami, London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore, "where wealthy people tend to have several homes", Khouri explained that the increase in permanent residents versus transient ones has had a great impact on the design market because "people are now buying for their homes with the idea of longevity, knowing that they will stay for many years".

To view more about Downtown Design 2023 visit its website.

Downtown Design takes place from 8 to 11 November 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Downtown Design as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.