Do you know your Skandi from your Shaker? Is your Eames coffee table piled high with books on design and décor? Then you’ll already be familiar with Design Days Dubai – a five-day feast of unique furniture and collectibles from galleries all over the world that returns to Dubai for the third year. The event isn’t just for design buffs. We asked festival director Cyril Zammit to share his top tips for novices keen to start a collection, as well as trends to watch out for. And if you’re not in the market for new furniture, the Design Days programme also features workshops, live performances and screenings, as well as ample eye candy for those who simply enjoy admiring beautiful things.

Director Cyril Zammit, Design Days DubaiFIVE MINUTES WITH THE DIRECTOR
What can people expect to see at Design Days? We have 34 galleries from 20 countries. We have design from Pakistan for the first time, and also from Algeria. As well as contemporary designs there are historical pieces that are very interesting, and all of those items – a classic Scandinavian piece from the 1970s, for example – will be indexed, so you can research their current value on an international grid.

Do you have any favourites among the pieces featured? I’m drawn towards pieces that are extremely linear. The complexity is hidden behind the simplicity.

What is the number one rule for first-time investors looking to start a collection? I think you have to try to detach yourself from the investment aspect. If you want to start a collection, the most important thing is to buy something that you like.

Is contemporary furniture a wise investment? The beauty of contemporary design is that there is only one direction the value of your investment is likely to go, and that is up.

French tastemaker

When Karl Lagerfeld is shopping for furniture, he heads for Yves Gastou’s gallery in Paris. Antiques dealer Gastou, who is credited with single-handedly making 1940s French furniture fashionable again, also counts film icon Catherine Deneuve among his customers. Galerie Yves Gastou will be exhibiting at the fair and we reckon anything this man has to say about design is worth listening to.

French Tastemaker, Design Days Dubai

Rising stars from the region
Dubai’s Tashkeel gallery has commissioned three young Emirati designers to create bespoke pieces for this year’s fair. Latifa Saeed, Salem Al Mansoori and Zeinab Al Hashemi have each been working on projects that will be unveiled at the event.

1) Industry Gallery
Based on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, Industry will bring a slice of West Coast cool to Dubai. Designers associated with the gallery include Benjamin Rollins Caldwell, who eschews traditional materials in favour of playing cards, children’s toys, bicycles and old computer parts when creating his pieces. His Binary Chair, covered with computer chips and hard drives, caught the eye of Lady Gaga, who can be seen sitting on the chair in the artwork for her record 

Industrial gallery at Design Days Dubai Industrial gallery, Design Days Dubai

2) Carpenters Workshop Gallery 
First established in an old carpenter’s workshop in Chelsea, London, Carpenters Workshop Gallery opened a second home in London’s Mayfair before expanding to a third gallery in Paris. Exhibiting limited edition creations from established and emerging artists, designers associated with the gallery range from Sebastian Brajkovic, whose Lathe series of tables and chairs have been hailed as modern classics, to Rick Owens. Fashion lovers will be familiar with Owens’ coveted leather jackets, but the Californian also creates edgy custom furniture. Dutch artist Frederik Molenschot’s City Lights chandelier has already been earmarked as a highlight of this year’s event.

Carpenter Workshop Gallery, Design Days Dubai

March 17 to 21
The Venue, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown, Dubai, Mar 17 to 20 4pm to 10pm; Mar 21 1pm to 7pm, Dhs50. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.