Design Days Dubai 1

Design Days Dubai sets sail under Burj Khalifa.

Just three years ago, in a region best known for the grimy business of extracting oil to drive the world’s economies, the city took a decidedly more cultural turn when (DDD) director, Parisian-born Cyril Zammit, brought limited-edition designs to the region from around the world to establish the first design-art fair of the Middle East. Taking place at developer Emaar’s custom-built location at the base of Burj Khalifa, the white tent is now home to an annual event that houses both familiar names and newcomers from Europe, America, Asia and the region.

Standing here once again under the vast canvas roof, I’m fascinated to witness how the fair has grown and how its success has attracted new participating galleries and artists. The diverse list of showing galleries and selected artists contributes to the unique character of the fair and makes it one of a kind on the design-art circuit.

Names in the DDD family include Beirut-based . Founded by Lebanese architect Pascle Wakim and Canadian architect Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, they’re returning for the third year, proving that time and patience are an essential investment for success in the region. The gallery is presenting projects by Iranian artist , Lebanese artists , and , as well as international names like (US) and (France). The installation Miracle Chips, by the UK‘s , finds new meaning in an Arabian context. Carwan’s commitment to the region is such that it has been promised a permanent space at the city’s most exciting cultural development – (d3) – the area’s first design-art gallery, which is scheduled to open next year..

South Africa‘s is having a fantasic year. A week before coming to Dubai, which it regards as its second home, founders Trevyn and Julian McGowan staged their inaugural in Cape Town. These new design capitals are certainly creating new energy on the design circuit. This year’s main eye-catcher among its exhibits is John Murray’s collaboration with master carpet maker Paco Pakdoust; together they have translated the painter’s vision into the medium of wool and silk.

Sao Paolo-based Olivia Yassudo’s + evolved from a single gallery to become the creative voice of Brazil. This year, she has brought to Dubai live design performance Less: N°1. Catenary Pottery printer by Chilean design group (Great things to people), collaborations with Hong Kong Tai Ping carpets by and Brazilian architect . In April, the ambitious South American crew will extend its reach to the world’s centre of design when it presents a specially curated programme at the Cappellini showroom during Salone Milano week.

The up-and-coming Dutch design studio Commonplace is now represented by Belgian gallery . For DDD, a special time lapse filmed in the desert has been added to its acclaimed work Claude Glass.

(Paris and London) is stunning visitors with its grand setting, which has been undertaken in collaboration with Parisian antiques dealer master pieces include American artist Long Ass Chair. Random International’s Swarm Study/VI and works by Dutch artists .  and . To add a little quirkiness to the collection, Rick Owens is now also represented by CWG.

Another big player in the design-art world, has landed at the fair with elegant works by 20th-century avant-garde design masters Philippe Hiquily, Ado Chale and Paul Evans, accented with Collection Osmosi in Carrare marble and Murano glass.

At the VIP opening party this evening, I spot the intriguing Sam Pratt and Valerio Caop from London’s . It looks as though Cyril has done some serious talking with them and finally got them to visit the fair. Can we expect an even better 2015 edition?

Photos by Yoko Choy

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