Downtown Design fair director Rue Kothari: How a world of talent is coming to our city this October
Next stop Dubai!
"It's 10.30pm and I'm on the phone to Mexico. Francisco Torres, the director of Abierto Mexicano de Diseno, the city's Design Week, is getting ready to ship pieces from three of the country's most exciting emerging brands. For them, it will be the first time they are presented in the Middle East; and they want to make it count – so they have commissioned new objects that will make their worldwide debut here in Dubai...
We're honoured of course to be hosting them at this year's Downtown Design. They are one of six Design Weeks from around the world that are taking part in Destinations, a Dubai Design Week initiative that will showcase within the Downtown Design tent.
Stools by Muubs
Now twice the size of last year's edition, the fair will see a mix of established, iconic, international and local brands exhibit – the current total stands at 90 – and contributing to a richer and more diverse texture to this year's offering; Beijing, Mexico, Melbourne, Helsinki, San Francisco and Istanbul Design Weeks will each present a trio of brands, co-curated with us.
Living by Georg Jensen
Not only does it give these fledgling brands a platform to launch in a market ripe with opportunity, but it will allow our visitors to discover next-gen talent from around the globe. The objects from each brand have been chosen for their innovative approach, how they champion indigenous crafts and materials, and of course how relevant their pieces would be to the local market. While Francisco is getting ready to launch a collection of furniture made from palm leaves, a material that clearly resonates in our region; Melbourne designer Jonathan Ben Tovin, a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven who produces his own lighting and furniture designs, is making a piece to be exclusively revealed at Downtown Design.
Beijing, who are very much engaged in a design cultural exchange – hosting Dubai as their Guest City this year at the Beijing Design Week – will show designs that vault the traditional stigma of 'Made in China' with their designers BenWoo Studio, ZaoZuo and EOQ.
San Francisco, meanwhile, presents an illuminating display of lighting design including Hello Lumio (above), a sustainable, versatile light, created to evoke the structure of a book that fans out to brighten dark spaces both inside and out.
Flying the flag for Scandinavian design is Helsinki, demonstrating perfectly the purity of execution that they're known for. They bring sustainable wooden furniture from Nikari evocative lighting designs from Saas (look out for the light swing) and Johanna Gullichsen's remarkable reinterpretations of traditional Finnish textile patterns. It promises to be a masterclass in craft.
Preciosa Lighting at the One & Only, The Palm, Dubai
For all of us; both organisers and visitors, this project brings a wealth of creativity, ideas and
innovation. And for our own industry, it will doubtless inspire our growing band of emerging designers, and export Dubai's credibility as a hub for design in the region.
Surpernova by Lasvit