Our new way of living, working and being

I recently returned to work in our Dubai studio after being on maternity leave – I left in February and came back to a completely new way of working. I was honestly surprised to hear that Design Week was even happening this year, and I wasn’t sure how it would pan out.

But despite the (let’s say) challenging year we’ve all had, Dubai Design District (d3) managed to pull out all the stops to create another successful festival. There may not have been the usual flux of people and a full-to-the-brim carpark, but Design Week 2020 still managed to impress.

The global pandemic not only hugely influenced the way in which the show was run this year, it also inspired some of the installations, such as the Serres Séparées developed by Amsterdam-based Mediamatic. The dining concept was influenced by the recent distancing measures and consisted of a series of private glass greenhouses to accommodate dining space for up to four people.

Serres Séparées Greenhouses Dining Mediamatic Dubai Design Week 2020 -

In previous years we would have gathered in the tent and buildings for talks, discussions and workshops. But in this new world, we simply just needed to log in online. Although this is better than nothing, it’s a shame (yet understandable) as it takes away from the collaborative feel of this event. I guess another negative impact was the lack of networking – Dubai Design Week attracts the country’s best designers from all fields and is a fantastic place to meet, greet and create new connections.

On a positive note however, this year I noticed a big difference in the show’s content and that was the consideration to lighting. Not only did pieces look fantastic in the daylight, the way they appeared at night had been thoroughly thought through and d3 really came alive after dark.

One installation in particular caught my eye: Nebula designed by Wilson Associates in collaboration with Vibhor Sogani and Studio Mark. The piece was made up of large suspended mirrored spheres that you could stand underneath and capture distorted images of yourself. At night the installation became a colourful kaleidoscope and the most Instagrammable moment of the week.

Nebula Mirror Sphere Installation Wilson Associates Dubai Design Week 2020

Nebula Mirror Sphere Installation Wilson Associates Dubai Design Week 2020

Another installation that focused on the present-day predicament we find ourselves in was Deterministic Path, by Iman Ibrahim and Mahmoud Diaa. Designed to encourage positive social distancing, the flexible modular work was made up of various passages and mirrored panels. As people navigated the installation the panels allowed them to (literally) reflect on themselves and others. Although each person is different from the next, it emphasised the fact that we all take a similar path out of a situation, much like the pandemic.

Deterministic Path Installation Iman Ibrahim Mahmoud Diaa Dubai Design Week 2020

Finally, Flux by Kristina Zanic Design Consultants left a lasting impression. On display at “The Shape of Things to Come” exhibition, the installation’s message was loud and clear: We are the designers of our own future.

Flux Installation Kristina Zanic Design Consultants We Are The Designers Of Our Own Future Neon Sign Dubai Design Week 2020

The general vibe and morale during Dubai Design Week 2020 was uplifting. Covid-19 may have taken some of our freedom (for now), but it certainly hasn’t taken our creativity. This year the festival’s focus was turned on themes related to redefining and reimagining the way we will live in a Covid-impacted world, as well as engaging further local creative communities to produce contextually relevant work.