Design Days Dubai, the Middle East and South Asia’s only international collectable design fair this year (14-17 March) welcomed a record 11,302 visitors, a 10% increase like-for-like on previous years.
The annual event presents a diverse cross-section of some of the world’s most exciting highly-collectible design and installations, alongside a talks and workshop programme bursting with leading design personalities and industry experts.
Positioned as a fair of discovery, it welcomed its largest number of exhibitors, this year with the strongest representation of design from the UAE and region. In total, 50 exhibitors represented 125 designers from 39 countries with more than 400 purchasable works – from furniture and lighting to decorative objects –displayed.
Design Days Dubai management cited the fair’s new location of d3, the heart of Dubai’s creative industries, and refreshed layout and most extensive programme of talks and workshops as contributing factors to its high level of visitors.
Among the fair’s visitors, Design Days Dubai welcomed HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; along with many local, regional and international dignitaries.
A well-known patron of design, HH Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, toured the fair at length, meeting many of the designers contributing to the shaping of Dubai as a global capital of design and innovation and concluded her visit with a design discussion on the development of the design scene in Dubai and UAE.
Design Days Dubai’s continued development of broad regional and international networks included a dedicated professional buyers preview (targeting architects, interior designers, specifiers), as well as the popular annual VIP collectors and ladies previews, all served to draw in visitors from the fair’s loyal following. Collectors, museums and institutions in attendance came from as far afield as Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures (Hawaii, USA), Design Shanghai Collectible Design (China) and Ian Art Consulting (Korea). Many brought groups of curators and patrons to the fair, taking advantage of the buzz of Art Week and its other key events Art Dubai and Sikka.
Rawan Kashkoush, Design Days Dubai’s Head of Programming said: “We are proud that Design Days Dubai 2017 closes as its most successful edition yet. There was buoyant mood throughout the fair, amongst its many visitors and exhibitors, who reported strong sales interest. Dubai has again reinforced its position as the regional centre of design and we look forward to continuing that fantastic momentum throughout to return in 2018 for our seventh edition.”
Design Days Dubai has established a reputation as a far-reaching international platform and this year welcomed debut exhibitors Leclaireur (France/USA), Territoire(s) (France/UAE) and Todd Merrill Studio (USA) bringing with them a range of collectible design from best-in-class American and European designers. International designers on show also included ‘Britain Takes Shape’, an exhibition of British contemporary design, hosted by Dubai Culture in celebration of the UK-UAE Year of Creative Collaboration, which was a particular hit with the region’s collectors.
Positive indicators of the success of the fair were not limited to strong sales interest but also by the number of exhibitors already confirming their return for the 2018 edition, along with interest from prospective exhibitors, many of whom travelled to the fair from the region and beyond.
Todd Merrill, founder of eponymous design gallery, a leading voice in international contemporary design, said: “Design Days Dubai was a perfectly run world class design fair that offered incredible dealer support which opened the Dubai market to us. Todd Merrill Studio received an amazing advance of publicity and overwhelming response to our booth by the attending trade and public. It was a fantastic experience that we hope to repeat.”
Design Days Dubai is the region’s most established launch pad for the region’s emerging design studios and solo designers to debut their furniture, lightings and design objects, featuring them alongside a diverse mix of the world’s design galleries.
This year’s first-time exhibitors from the UAE were Ayah Al Bitar, AYKA Design, CarpetsCC by Cecilia Setterdahl, Jafar Dajani, MCML Studio, Michael Rice and Nader Gammas; and from the region, Apical Reform (India), Aperçu Designs (Jordan), Marie Munier (Lebanon), Dahr (Saudi Arabia) and Ahmad Angawi, represented by King Abdullaziz Center for World Culture (Saudi Arabia).
Returning to the fair for its fifth consecutive year, Jill Hoyle, manager of Tashkeel said: “As always, Design Days Dubai was a great experience for Tashkeel and provided us with an amazing opportunity to showcase the work of the emerging designers who had been part of the Tanween programme over the last year. The opportunity to show their work alongside that of established regional and international designers and to get feedback directly from visitors to the fair is an invaluable experience for designers at this stage of their career.
Design Days Dubai remains a catalyst to the development of the design community in the UAE and region and supports initiatives that focus on regional talent.