From exhibitions and installations to workshops and performances…

The region’s largest creative festival, Dubai Design Week has more than 230 events and activities taking place across several venues in the city over six days including one jam-packed weekend.

At the heart of it all is Downtown Design; a trade fair situated in Dubai Design District (d3) and the activities spill out from this epicentre with exhibitions, installations, workshops, talks and performances all across the district.

Visitors will walk through one of the custom-built gateways to enter the spirit of the festival and be able to guide themselves around with the newly launched app that has an interactive map and AR (augmented reality) navigation.

With so many things to choose from and a dizzying array of information, here is our guide to helping you make the best out of the festival.

Downtown Design

Downtown Design is a trade fair featuring original, high-quality design from around the world. This year’s show will include 175 exhibitors displaying the very best in contemporary furniture, product design and designer collaborations as well as an array of installations, live demonstrations, talks and events.

There will be a range of product categories such as furniture; lighting; bathrooms; kitchens; textiles; and accessories. It will also introduce Downtown Editions, a new curated section dedicated to limited editions, capsule collections from individual studios and affordable accessories.

TOP TIP: Access is free of charge for visitors who’ve downloaded the Dubai Design Week app.

Trade opening: Nov 13, 5pm to 7pm; Nov 14, 12 to 7pm; Nov 15 & 16, 12 to 9pm
Public Opening: Nov 14, 5 to 7pm; Nov 15, 5 to 9pm; Nov 16, 12 to 9pm

d3 Waterfront, Dubai,

Global Grad Show

This is an exhibition of some of the world’s most cutting-edge ideas underlining the message that design is a vital part of life and relevant to everyone. Presented as prototypes at conceptual stage, the Global Grad Show 2018 will showcase 150 projects sourced from degree shows from 100 of the world’s best design and technology schools in 45 countries. It features fresh approaches to tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time such as increasing access to education, building communities and reducing waste whilst generating clean energy.

TOP TIP: Look out for mind-blowing innovations such as new technology for doctors that can identify cancer cells using a pen, solutions to combat declining bee populations and a ring that helps the visually impaired to retain their independence.

Atrium of Building 6, d3. Nov 13 to 16, 10am to 9.30pm; Nov 17, 10am to 7pm


Translating to doors in Arabic, Abwab an exhibition made up of five pavilions, showing design talent from the Middle East. Each pavilion represents a creative community: Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia, Amman, Dubai, Beirut and Kuwait City and will display a collaboration from two designers from that region. Re-modelled annually to respond to a different theme, the 2018 edition asks designers to produce work under the title Between the Lines. These lines can be physical or metaphorical and represent narrative, territory or creative endeavour.

TOP TIP: Dubai’s Pavilion will feature an audio and visual immersive installation by Hind Bin Demaithan and Saaed Al Madani.

International Design

Design weeks from the region, including Amman, Beirut and Casablanca, will bring curated presentations of some of the Middle East’s brightest design talent. Leading Swiss brand Vitra will have a road-show dedicated to telling the stories behind some of their most iconic designs and the Institut Français in the UAE will take part with an exhibition focused on contemporary French design, titled Le French Design – How Innovation Creates History, curated by Maud Louvrier-Clerc.

Emirati Design

It is not only international names that will be on display; there will be plenty from within the UAE itself. On the main stage, Huda Al Hashimi will discuss design innovation and an exhibition titled UAE Design Stories will show eight designers who have worked with archive imagery and is curated by Khalid Shafar. Shafar, together with Nadine Kanso and Khulood Thani, has also produced From RAK to DRAK, a show of design objects for Ras Al Khor establishments and ProtoPieces is an exhibition of furniture designed by 12 students from the American University of Sharjah.

Art Installations

On the outdoor waterfront terrace, visitors can experience a bespoke creation by sculptor David Harber and a reinterpretation of the renowned installation Le Refuge by designer Marc Ange. Made from a green marble base with stylised gold-plated palm leaves, the sculpture – a giant day bed – cast very cool shadow shapes in front of Dubai’s skyline. Italian designer Paola Navone has also teamed up with Abet Laminati to design The Gate, a 3D interactive art piece made from building blocks that come together to build a dramatic entranceway to the event.

TOP TIP: Get your smart phones ready, Ange’s Le Refuge made its debut at Milan Design Week earlier this year and was the most Instagram’d pieces there,

Weekend Outing

While the event goes on all week, it is the weekend when the festival gets into full swing with Ripe market hosting a promenade of boutiques and outlets for the Design Souk and Downtown Editions throwing its doors open to the public. The rest of d3 will be buzzing with activity as the restaurants, cafés, showrooms, galleries and retailers all participate in the festival atmosphere and there will be live cooking stations, food trucks, performances and demonstrations.

TOP TIP: Friday is the public day for Downtown Design so get there early if you’re interested in getting your hands on a limited-edition piece.

Don’t Miss

Facebook will be hosting their first ever week-long pop-up hosting customised workshops and knowledge sharing activities as well as showcasing technology to build, connect and celebrate the Arab world’s creative .

The region’s most popular YouTube creators will also be at the new waterfront park, The Block, for a full day where fans and visitors of all ages can meet and interact with their favourite stars at the Creator Meet-up.


An essential part of Dubai Design Week is the opportunity to experience the creative process of design.  The Making Space offers visitors of all ages the chance to learn from experienced designers, with both drop-in sessions and in-depth workshops. The list of activities includes modelling, sculpting, weaving and sketching. Highlights include the Creative Gym led by IDEO and Palmwood; Ethan & Co workshops that demystify 3D printing; and a weekend programme that includes fun robotics for all the family. Advanced workshops for professional development will be staged at the Re:Urban Studio. These range from topics such as colour psychology, sound-based branding and data visualization as well as skill-related sessions like jewellery making, chair design or painting for interiors.


Over 50 talks and discussions will take place in various locations over the course of the festival. The main stage will see designers, creatives and thinkers share their insights on subjects as diverse as sustainability, public space and how countries promote themselves through design. Highlights include the sustainability and design conference People Planet Profits, as well as high-profile speakers like international innovator Daan Roosegaarde, Italian designer Paola Navone and the architect Karl Sharro.

Between Buildings 4, 5,6 & 7, Dubai Design District (d3), Dubai, 10am to 10pm, November 12 to 17.


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