21 Nov 2017Last updated

Design Insights

Why you should visit Downtown Design 2017

Now in its fifth year, we were hoping Downtown Design would have some new offerings and they haven’t disappointed

Eleanor Joslin
Added 19:57 | October 17, 2017
  • Find furniture from Lebanese architect Ahmed Bazazo

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  • Apical Reform makes its Downtown Design debut

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  • Baccarat will showcase its legendary crystal lights

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  • B&B Italia will showcase designs like the Charles Mart sofa

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  • The Bliss red rug designed by Mae Engelgeer for exhibitor CC Tapis

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  • Dots crockery, from Sheikha Hind Al Qasimi’s brand Designed by Hind

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  • Beautiful wallpaper and fabrics from British label Designers Guild

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  • Ethimo will showcase contemporary furniture solutions

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  • The Trea office chair by Dubai-based Humanscale

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  • Look forward to L’Objet’s show debut with stunning accessories

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  • Spanish brand Marset will highlight its modern lighting designs

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  • Furniture brand Meridiani joins the Italian pavilion

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  • Striking designs by Italian brand Nahoor (meaning source of light)

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  • SACD high-back Mashrabiya Lounge Chair by Sonia Ashoor

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  • Katarína Kotuláčová’s striking installation Sanssouci Aurora

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  • Santa and Cole’s Cirio Circular pendant lamp is a collectible piece

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  • Design Random lights from Chia-Ying Lee for Studio Italia

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  • MOMA table and chairs by Javier Mariscal for Vondom

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  • Vondom will be at Downtown Design for the first time

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Held during Dubai Design Week, from November 14 to 17, the luxury design show will expand to twice its former size and host a staggering 70 new names from the international market, including L’Objet, Vondom, Ethimo, CC Tapiz, Humanscale, Santa Cole, Nahoor, Sans Souci, Studio Italia and Alias. For some, it will be their first introduction to the Middle East market; it also gives visitors a rare opportunity to experience these companies’ products in the UAE and make informed purchasing decisions as end-users or for commercial use.

‘The show continues its rise, while focusing on connecting exhibitors to the region’s leading architects and interior designers,’ says Rue Kothari, fair director of Downtown Design. ‘Helping brands and buyers to unlock the potential of the Middle East design market is at the heart of Downtown Design.’

While we expected more emerging brands to be unveiled in the line-up, we’re excited to see bespoke crockery from Sharjah-based Sheikha Hind bint Majed Al Qasimi’s label Designed by Hind, and beautiful custom-made nursery furniture from Misk. Returning for a second term, we hope to find some interesting pieces from Apical Reform who showcased Sonuslexica at Design Days Dubai 2017, an installation formed using sound waves from the many different languages spoken across the Emirates. Other emerging companies to visit include online boutique Apartment 51, RAK-based ceramic tile manufacturer Mosaico, home-grown furniture concept Chattels & More, Lebanese brand Studio A, and artistic designer Roudha Al Shamsi.

Altogether, there will be 150 brands from 25 countries, with Portuguese designers taking a concerted interest. ‘Portugal has a long standing and well-known reputation for furniture manufacturing, expertise in silversmithing and textiles,’ adds Rue. ‘The fact that they don’t have a profile here is exactly why we are working with them. Downtown Design is a proven platform to help brands access the Middle East market, and to give buyers an opportunity to engage with new, high-quality brands.’

Portugal’s “organic” lighting company Serip is returning while luxury furniture manufacturer Luxdemob is making a debut at the show. “The furniture industry in Portugal has evolved in an exponential way, in quality and design in the last decades,’ says Gualter Morgado, director and project manager at APIMA, the Portuguese furniture association that’s supporting their members’ participation in the design event. ‘The number of companies with exporting capacity has increased and, in recent years, a few dozen Portuguese brands of great prestige and quality have appeared in main international events, such as those in Paris, Milan, London and New York, through which they have obtained contacts and business with the UAE, validating the penetration potential of these brands in the market.’

Eleanor Joslin

Eleanor Joslin