Dubai Design Week, a 6-day programme of lectures, discussions, workshops and exhibitions, takes over the city’s design district next month 24 - 29 October. Though only inaugurated last year, the event has already established international prestige, drawing 23,000 visitors and showcasing the works of over 150 designers for its 2015 debut.
The centrepiece of the week’s itinerary, Global Grad Show, presents 145 innovative projects from graduate students at 50 of the world’s leading design institutions, making it the largest student gathering of its kind. Curated by independent writer and designer Brendan McGetrick, the show’s works are organised conceptually rather than by school or country, creating an international dialogue amongst both participants and visitors.
While last year’s categories might have verged on westernised, capitalist identity politics – with its 7 sections including ‘Home’, ‘Play’ and ‘Work’ – this year they have adopted a more abstract but streamlined framework. The ‘Empower’ section explores methods of generating new ideas and expansion of ability. One example from ‘Empower’, the Keyphone by Henning Marxen (University of Arts Bremen), is a smartphone cover that makes touchscreen interfaces more accessible to blind people. ‘Connect’, on the other hand, concerns the exchange of ideas and fostering of community, and includes among its offerings the Kuba Disco by Leonard Pilar Drummond (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro), a pair of headphones that can be reconfigured as laptop speakers for communal listening. A third section, ‘Sustain’, presents innovations in waste elimination and renewable energy. The Algae Harvester by Fredrik Ausinsch (Umeå Institute of Design), is a drone that cleans the ocean while using the polluting algae it has consumed as fuel.