Last week saw the Design-Art event, Design Days Dubai, in its second year. Following the incredible success of last year, I couldn’t contain my excitement at what Design Spectacular would be on show and I was not disappointed.
Although I’ve now been here 7 years (to the day!), the superb Downtown setting never fails to impress. The purpose-built venue at the foot of the Burj Khalife is effortlessly fabulous and I was thrilled to see Fair Director Cyril Zammit and his team, hadn’t deviated from the brilliant, and oh so cool, contemporary urban aesthetic they established for the show last year: black and white with red accents, open pipework, and concrete floors.
I headed over to the show on its second night and it was encouragingly busy. As with last year, there was so much to see (including a much stronger presence from the Middle East) I couldn’t possibly include everything in this posting, instead here are just a few of my favourites…
After seeing Willowlamp’s Enchanted Faraway Tree chandelier last year on the Southern Guild stand, Scarlet Opus have become big fans, featuring their work on our latest trend boards. This year they presented the Mandala; inspired by Islamic patterns it was a lighting sculpture of complex interlocking geometry.
The Rosette Sideboard by Egg
This piece was inspired by an inadvertent trip to a steel merchant’s store in Mauritius. I was captivated by its gritty urban beauty and the use of that all-important rose copper just made it all the more desirable.
Where We At graffiti sideboard, a collaboration between Product Designer Laurie Wiid Van Heerden and talented Graffiti Artist Atang Tshikare
Laurie and Atang wanted to “use graffiti, but take it away from the usual suspect scenario and tell an unlikely story with it”. The setting perfectly suited this piece and it was refreshing to see such work here in Dubai.
“Raw Design: A Creative project that considers the tradition of woodworking and its use in contemporary Design.”
We don’t see an awful lot of contemporary woodwork in this region so as a Trend Forecaster who’s been talking about raw materials and connecting with nature for some time now, it was a real treat to see the craftsmanship displayed by the work of current Artists and Designers on the Sarah Myerscough Fine Art stand.
Turned Wood Vessel by Liam Flynn
This was one of the most beautiful pieces of woodwork I think I’ve ever seen: exquisitely worked with the grain displaying an almost moiré effect, yet at the same time possessing a very raw quality. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Liam’s work.
“An encounter with a Liam Flynn vessel can be an emotional experience. His pieces are achingly beautiful: they have a brooding presence, a sense of rightness, an air of confidence. We long to touch and caress them, to cup our hands around them and lift them and feel for ourselves their astonishing lack of weight. The shapes are subtle – round but not round, delicately undulating, alive, changing as we move. We are intrigued by the detailing: rhythmic carvings, double rims, shaped feet.” Roger Bennett
Handcarved wooden sculptures by Gareth Neal
Gareth specialises in combining the technical modes of 3D computer drawing and CNC processes, with the intricacy of professional craftsmanship. His work demanded your consideration and I loved the juxtaposition of super futuristic form with such a natural material.
It’s always a treat to actually see the work of our favourite Designers who have featured within our forecasts, particularly pieces such as Maarten De Ceulaer’s Mutation series presented by the Industry Gallery.
There’s the potential with work that pushes the boundaries in this way to photograph beautifully but not quite be “it” in real life… this was truly not the case here. Maarten’s Mutation chair had a wonderfully strange quality, it was exactly what I wanted it to be! Bizarre as it sounds, it really did seem to be mutating, with a life of its own.
Tom Price’s work has featured on our trend boards for several season’s running now, again it really was a delight to see his Bronze #1 Meltdown Chair from our S/S 2014 trend, El Estancia.
Our Twitter followers will know that I was particularly looking forward to seeing the Haze Series by Wonmin Park on the _Croft stand as I’ve recently received the images for our A/W 2014/15 Life trend. Such simplicity. Such beauty. True to their name, these pieces displayed an ethereal aura that try as I might, I simply couldn’t capture. Below are the official press images but these pieces are really to be appreciated in person.
I enjoyed the opportunity this year to see work here in Dubai with a slightly more controversial agenda. Batista aims to translate the themes of modern life in his work, further pushing his message through the use of vivid colour, provoking emotion and conversation.
Helder Batista’s Gun Lebanon and Gun USA
The Carpenters Workshop Gallery was my favourite space at the show last year and I was hoping they’d bring Studio Drift’s Fragile Future chandelier again and indeed they did! The delicate beauty was just as exquisite the second time around!
They also presented one of Victoria’s favourite pieces from Studio Job:
Eiffel Tower lamp in Bronze
Taj Mahal table in Bronze
Simply displayed and perfectly lit, both pieces possessed a sophisticated elegance and had real presence.
“A drawing in the air that traces the fine line between abstract thought and concrete reality.”
The Analogia Project is the result of a long-term collaboration between Designer, Andrea Mancuso and Architect, Emilia Serra. Their work focuses on exploring the complex relationship that exists in a room between space and objects and how to express it to the viewer.
Their installation was by far my favourite work at this year’s show. Using wool, metal, and nylon Mencuso and Serra created a unique 3D sketch that was breathtakingly perfect. They fuse tradition with innovation, artisan crafts with computer software, age old materials with contemporary technology… The effect? A profoundly beautiful and ethereal space.