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Featuring a conceptual exhibition, a digital fair, an online talks programme and tailor-made onsite brand experiences, the new Downtown Design hybrid programme will help the regional design industry to reconnect and engage across digital and physical platforms.

In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and in keeping with physical distancing measures, the event will take place at the Design Quarter in Dubai Design District (d3) across the entire duration of Dubai Design Week from 9-14 November 2020.

Comprising of four key elements, the programme is curated to help both the A&ID community and brands gain inspiration and insight, network and navigate the new design landscape.


At the heart of this year’s activations is Downtown Design’s exhibition, ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, which invites the region’s architects and interior designers to imagine how we will work, live and play in a post-pandemic world. From an open call, selected concepts will be presented as a multi-media exhibition aimed at spotlighting progressive design thinking from the Middle East.


Continuing to support the objectives of brands and buyers in these challenging times, Downtown Design will present a digital showcase allowing design professionals and enthusiast to discover the latest collections and trends. Underpinned by an amplified digital strategy, the virtual event will offer participating brands, country pavilions and designers a range of benefits to help them raise their profile in the Middle East and beyond.


As part of this year’s agile format, Downtown Design will also curate opportunities for brands looking to reconnect on the ground. From pop-up installations and capsule showcases, to creative collaborations – presented within the d3 Quarter and in collaboration with Dubai Design Week – participating brands will benefit from access to both key trade and consumer audience, and will be supported by Downtown Design’s B2B programme.


Over the years, Downtown Design’s eagerly anticipated programme of talks and workshops, The Forum, has brought leading names in design to the Middle East. As technology intermediates the design industry, this year’s talks will be presented digitally and feature regional and international experts spotlighting the new value system that has evolved as positive response to the crisis.

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Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Downtown Design returns for its seventh edition championing the growth of the region’s design industry from 12-15 November 2019.

Recognised as the leading platform in the Middle East for original, high quality design, Downtown Design unites international brands with the regional design community, strengthening Dubai as a central meeting point for creatives. As part of the programming of Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest creative festival, and in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), Downtown Design is housed within a bespoke structure overlooking the d3 Waterfront. This year the fair presents a fresh selection of brands and feature areas, providing a dynamic environment where design meets opportunity.

Downtown Design’s Trade Programme continues to address the needs of the competitive design industry, helping members raise their profile and forge industry relationships. Featuring a series of networking events and privileges, designed to help design professionals make the most of the fair’s platform, it facilitates opportunities for architects and interior designers to connect with peers, brands and industry influencers.

2019 Fair Highlights

For the 2019 showcase, Downtown Design has engaged three award-winning design teams to help to remaster the fair’s layout, executing concepts that demonstrate the sophistication of regional design firms. Wilson Associates, Swiss Bureau and XBD Collective have been tasked with bringing creative elements to the fair’s public areas, including the bar and the café.

Downtown Editions Highlights

This year, Downtown Editions will continue to spotlight new regional initiatives, young designers and up-and-coming brands.

Designers presenting works inspired by the culture and traditions of the Middle East include emerging designer Hajar Abdallah, whose debut installation celebrates the region’s equestrian culture, and Sharjah-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council who will present an outstanding collection of objects developed in collaboration with Emirati craftswomen and leading contemporary designers. Award-winning architectural studio Binchy & Binchy will launch ten new tables inspired by architecture, challenging themselves to determine a design language that is truly Emirati.

The Forum at Downtown Design

In a series of talks and workshops, designed to support design professionals and enthusiasts, ‘The Forum’ offers creative, commercial and strategic industry insights by global and regional design experts. Themes will range from how to build a business in design, to managing clients in design firms and design marketing.

Highlights include the award-winning Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh and India’s leading architect and curator Ashiesh Shah, who both feature on a panel championing the power of design, and multi-faceted interior designer Greg Natale, who will present a masterclass in achieving a successful design business.

Denise Neri, who leads the architectural and conceptual design of Aesop stores worldwide, will lead a panel on the future of retail while Allesandro Minotti of the leading Italian furniture makers Minotti and Dara Huang, founder of multi-disciplinary studio Design Haus Liberty will speak to building design brands with staying power. Marcus Fairs, founder and editor-in-chief of Dezeen will lead a panel discussion exploring the design community’s role as an agent of positive change.

SBID Members can access the VIP opening and preview on the 12 November in Dubai.

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