Dubai: art and design move forward.

Author:Smith, Sylvia

In a pile-up of Ds, Design Days Dubai dives Downtown for its fifth show presenting more than 750 limited edition works, many making their first public appearance. The first collection of Emirati design was brought together indicating a new confidence in ideas emanating from the region.

Last year, the design fair and Art Dubai added US$35 million to the Dubai economy from visitor spending, according to an independent report. Bringing together objective research with feedback from those involved in the local and international art markets, gallery owners and members of the public, the Economic Impact Survey also states that Design Days Dubai and Art Dubai attracted almost 16,000 visitors, with the majority from outside Dubai. In excess of 6,000 purchases and 60 per cent of annual sales by local art organisations were made during Art Week.

Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the opening of Design Days Dubai, seen here at the "flower power" stand of French jewellery company and sponsors of Design Days Dubai, Van Cleef & Arpels.

Continuing Aljoud Lootah's well-researched ideas, Misnad is a hand woven carpet that reinterprets the historical weaving heritage of the Arabian Peninsula. Geometric patterns convey ideals of Bedouin life with symbols of desert landscape. The finished objects, of course, have a practical purpose. AlSadu patterns and symbols weave into floor and seat covers a reminder of Arab roots. In this case the motifs are part of an armrest that in turn ingeniously recalls the rectangular cushion used in typical majilis seating. The subtext of weaving is caught up in the magic carpets of the Iwan Maktabi Artwork collection featuring a standout piece by Lebanese designer Rana Salaam that imaginatively encapsulates the different "quartiers" of Beirut each with its own motifs and atmosphere. More abstractly weaving also made a bit of a stir in Beatwoven's Tribe, an interpretation of musical scores into sound waves that cross into visual wired patterns using copper and metallic strands. A British Craft Council initiative brought this innovation to Dubai.

This year's winner of the Urban Commission shows that she can do more than design a conventional bike shed.

Fair Director, Cyril Zammit, says that the fair is a starting point for companies aiming to establish themselves in the area. The design fair is a way of testing the water; but he cautions that the UAE market is different from elsewhere because of the mosaic of...

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