Design Days Dubai: exciting, dynamic, promising

Design Days Dubai: exciting, dynamic, promising

a review by Katharina Horstmann

Some things seem to be designed to do their tasks perfectly, and the traditional Mashrabiya is one of them. What else could be as efficient at both, providing privacy inside a building and protection from the sun while allowing the air to pass through?

The delicate wooden window screen however is not only a functional element from Middle Eastern architecture but also a beautiful piece of craftsmanship in itself. Inspired by the manually carved and lathed wooden pieces, Austrian studio Mischer’Traxler designed a sideboard which features all stages of their manufacturing – from rectangular slats to elaborated decorative elements.


Sideboard by Mischer Taxler

The Gradient Mashrabiya Sideboard is part of the project “Contemporary Perspectives in Middle Eastern Crafts” for which Lebanese gallery Carwan commissioned nine international design studios to team up with artisans from the Arabic world in order to create a series of limited-edition objects. Highlighting both, the richness of the local craftsmanship and its capacity to excel in contemporary design, the results of this endeavour were unveiled at the inaugural edition of Design Days Dubai.

The event, which took place from March 18 to 21 at a custom-built venue at the foot of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was the first fair in the Middle East and South Asia region specializing in collectible and limited-edition designs. Like the trade show Design Miami and its Swiss offshoot Design Miami/ Basel, it coincides with an art fair, the Art Dubai. With the art in Dubai market maturing, space has opened up for a new event, the goal of which is to bring high quality design to the doorstep of local collectors as well as to present it to a wider audience in order to promote greater appreciation and understanding.

During the four vibrant days – which included a ladies-only afternoon – a well-chosen mix of new designs along with 20th century signature classics were exhibited by a total of 22 galleries from 14 countries. Participants included fair regulars such as Nilufar from Milan or Carpenters Workshop from London and Paris as well as regional players such as Carwan and SMO Gallery from Beirut or Nakkash Gallery from Dubai. Newcomers such as Sao Paulo’s +Coletivo Amor de Madre and Seoul’s Croft Gallery had chosen Design Days Dubai for the first display of their work outside their respective home-countries.

The galleries attracted over 8.500 visitors from the region, who had the opportunity to attend a number of events organized around the fair. Focusing on enlightening and encouraging the new generation of design collectors as well as emerging designers, they included a portfolio feedback session with Lebanese designer Nada Debs and seminars on the future of design by Li Edelkoort and investing in design-art by Rabih Hage. Furthermore, Seoul-based Kwangho Lee led a weaving workshop and Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler brought part of their studio on site and together with Lebanese carpenter Roger Tohme assembled a further Gradient Mashrabiya Sideboard, making the craftsman’s work visible and understandable to the audience.




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