A Reflected Journey Through Dubai Design Week

The 7th-12th November saw the annual celebration of creativity and design descend upon the Dubai Design District (D3). Dubai Design Week 2023 sprawled throughout the neighbourhood and this year we were treated to all manner of talks, exterior installations, exhibitions, pop-ups, workshops, and a whole lot of conversation.

The atmosphere within D3 was electric, with attendees drawn from multiple sectors, all united by a shared passion for design – highlighting the true essence of Dubai Design Week. As a lighting designer myself, the prospect of seeing a wide mixture of exterior and interior installations that incorporate light generated real excitement.

The majority of installations revolved around themes of sustainability, recycling, green thinking (my green hair fit right in), innovative technology, 3D printing, and the delicate dance between nature and human innovation.

Below I have dived in a few of my favourite installations from the week.

Prismatic Dreamscape: A Luminous Journey by Vertical Design

This luminous creation served as a testament to the event’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of design. The aim of the installation was to represent the Earth’s energy in a harmoniously blurred yet captivating form.

The journey through this dreamscape unfolded within twin installations, each bearing its own unique charm. Two glass structures hosted a multitude of neon lights displayed in intricate shapes and vivid colours – the interplay provided a visual feast. The boundaries between the installations seemed to blur purposefully, inviting exploration into a realm where creativity and light blended seamlessly.

No Free Ideas: Illuminating Awareness by SVD & AOTA

This thought-provoking creation not only showcased artistic and innovative thinking, but it also generated awareness about the often-overlooked issue of exploiting creative minds in the art and design scene.

Reflecting on my years as a student, memories of the first lesson from a seasoned professional came flooding back. The lesson emphasised a stark reality of the constant attempts by those outside the industry to extract free ideas from those within. This exploitation ranged from friendly house visits to professional meetings, a widespread challenge that creative minds continually face. ‘No free ideas’ addressed this issue, advocating for fair compensation and recognition for artists and designers and their ideas.

The cherry on top of this installation was the fact that this notion was represented by countless lightbulbs, adding extra meaning and connotations for me personally.

Lurking Questions: Provoking Thought by Nori Narrative x Incubos Consultants

As global consciousness on climate related issues expands, this installation stood as a powerful conduit for expressing the unspoken queries that linger in the minds of many. From contemplating the year 2100, to questioning the impact of individual actions, and pondering the effectiveness of policies, each query strikes a chord with the shared concerns of our time.

What makes ‘Lurking Questions’ truly remarkable is its ability to extract these complex thoughts and express them in a simple yet profound form of art. Expressive and emotionally charged, the installation took these questions, etched them onto recyclable boards, and elevated them with strategically placed spotlights, effectively illuminating the urgency and significance of each question.

Navigating Light and Space: Insights from a Lighting Designer’s Perspective

I found myself pleasantly surprised by the intentional use of projectors positioned on the floor for both ‘Lurking Questions’ and ‘Ring of Life’.

The decision to place luminaires directly on the floor was a practical choice that brought flexibility and highlighted the artistic nature of both exhibitions. The light and shadow created by the source added an extra layer of dynamism to the visual narratives.

However, this choice did pose an interesting dilemma – the projectors became vulnerable to the movement of eager spectators. As people drew in for a closer look or to capture the perfect photograph, they stumbled over the projectors, resulting in the luminaire shifting and subsequently not illuminating the exhibit as intended.

This observation serves as food for thought for future installations, a gentle reminder that in our pursuit of creating immersive, visual experiences, we must also consider the protection and safeguarding of the very tools that breathe life into these artistic marvels.

Luminaires play a pivotal role in amplifying the spirit of each installation, and so a thoughtful approach to their placement and protection must be paramount in order to create a seamless blend of aesthetics and practicality.

With all that said, the afterglow of Dubai Design Week is not just about what has been seen but is about the lasting impression these moments of design brilliance leave in the creative soul. And for me, this year, I am still contemplating many of the messages put forward, I have felt their impact, and I am truly inspired.