Design Days Dubai 2013 set the bar high

Exclusive to, Pratyush Sarup, the Dubai-based Contributing Feature’s Writer for Harper’s Bazaar Interiors, takes us into the heart of the new global hub for collectible designDesign Days Dubai.

Above – Guests arrive for a private tour of Design Days Dubai 2013. Photo © Karen Dias.

What an opening night! The private preview of Design Days Dubai 2013, on 17th March saw the A-list of the international design community experiencing a high only something heartfelt can bring. And isn’t that what design or any other creative media suppose to do? To connect at an emotional, individual and communal level? DDD13 did a commendable job of it.

The preview night was the usual glam Dubai fare – impeccably dressed people, scrumptious food (courtesy 1762 Gourmet Deli) and vibrant personalities – but focus remained on the galleries and their unique, different and even experimental presentations. For me, the energy was electric – you could feel the excitement amongst the people and given the scale and diversity of the 2013 show, most could not believe DDD was only in its second year.

Design Days Dubai made a bold impression the minute one walked into its pristine white, bespoke venue.

‘A Million Times’ – a 3.44 meter long kinetic clock installation by Humans Since 1982 had 300 synchronized analogue clocks, with each minute and hour hand dancing to beautifully  choreographed movements before settling into to indicate the time!

I don’t think DDD could have found a better opening piece. To me it crystallizes all that the show stands for – something unique, something with a nod to the past and eyes on the future.

A Million Times by Humans Since 1982.

The Anglophile in me was instantly drawing to the British Crafts Council booth located in a way that gave it a an almost private space appeal. They were showcasing works from four of the leading British galleries – Gallery Libby Sellers , Gallery SO, Marsden Woo Gallery and Vessel Gallery –  so I guess their location suited their purpose to a Tee! Weighing Up The Competition by Rolf Sachs and the Drawn Candlesticks were personal favourites- I love anything in gold – and I wish I could afford Simon Hassan‘s boiled leather lamps!

Weighing Up The Competition by Rolf Sachs is lit beautifully by Simon Hasan’s Boiled Leather Lamps – both by Gallery Libby Sellers. Photo © Karen Dias.

Drawn candlesticks in the backgroundPhoto © Karen Dias.

One of my new design darlings, Southern Guild, founded by Trevyn & Julian McGowan showcased (as they always do) the best of contemporary South African design with 20 designers’ works presented. I was lucky to meet 10 of them, all on site to take you through the amazing creative journeys! I nearly bought their 3D printed Scorpio pendent and of course the Rosette table would be a nice gift to receive! John Vogel ‘s stunning tables were an instant hit with the crowd and Trevyn told me, they were very close to finding their new homes!

Southern Guild – A personal fave, i love the Chain Mail Willowlamp creation and the Rosette Cabinet. Photo © Karen Dias.

Southern Guild – Porky Hefer & Audrey Esca present The Leather Weaver ‘s Nest; The suspended scorpio is the model of the 3d Printed Bronze pendent kept on the pedestal. Photo © Karen Dias.

Perimeter Art&Design Gallery was every inch the epitome of the London design scene. Quirky, playful and directional, their booth and their collection drew a strong crowd. I overhead a couple having a heated discussion over why she wanted to possess the feathered side table. The woman won – “It makes me smile” – fair reasoning, I say.

Love the concept of the Sansa Armchair by Cheick Diallo. Photo © Karen Dias.

The quirky feathered side table. Photo © Karen Dias.

It is the different ways one can implore people to interact with design which will eventually lead to maturity and longevity of the design market.  The bespoke installations at DDD13 were to me, a step in that direction.

The Analogia Project was simply magical. For the Dubai edition of the project, the designers revisited classic furniture pieces, reinterpreting them in Merino wool.  Tricia from the DDD team had a field day chaperoning them through markets of Dubai, sourcing materials! The result was very fragile, very dreamy!

The Analogia  Project by Andrea Mancuso and Emilia Serra – a bespoke installation for DDD13 interprets design classics in wool. Photo © David Nascimento.

Korean designer Jihoon Ha‘s installation Ja-Ri  – inspired from undulating forms of the desert – located at the centre of the pavilion worked not only as a stunning design piece but also made for a communal space for people to relax and soak in the creative energy around them.

Ja-ri by Jihoon Ha is a modular seating installed at the heart of the DDD13 pavillion. The seating was inspired by the undulating forms of the desert dunes. Photo © Karen Dias.

Photo © Karen Dias.

Out its white marquee, DDD marked its presence at Bloomindgale‘s Home-Dubai at The Dubai Mall. In collaboration with the lifestyle store, New-York based architect Antonio Pio Saracino offered the DDD off-site presentation, a stunning installation, ‘City Within’.

‘City Within’ installation by Antonio Pio Saracino at Bloomingdale’s Home-Dubai.

Design fairs like DDD are about the rare, unique, limited edition pieces with intrinsic investment worth. They are about individuals and organisations creating and building on portfolios of personal, cultural and monetary worth. At the same time, shows of such magnitude promote democracy of design appreciation and that is why I love them. You don’t have to own or even afford a thing of beauty – but to be in its presence enriches your life.

You can follow me on twitter @PratInTheCity , go directly to the heart of all things Design Days Dubai 2013 @DesignDaysDubai . Keep track of Harper’s Bazaar Interiors with @HB_Interiors or download it online at

All images are leased to the author by the organisers exclusively for this article. They remain the property of Design Days Dubai and cannot be copied or reproduced in any manner without their prior written consent.

+ To read our first exclusive report, please jump to : All Eyes On Dubai.

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