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The Upcoming Edition of Dubai Design Week is Going “Phygital”

Dubai Design District

Dubai Design District. Photo: Shutterstock

Taking to Instagram on July 10, Dubai Design Week (DXBDW) confirmed that on account of the global pandemic and a changing landscape, the sixth edition of their famed festival would adopt a slightly different feel. Taking place from November 9 – 14, this year’s DXBDW will consist of both digital as well as physical components.

Using a “phygital” approach, that has gained momentum with fashion weeks and other industry events over the last few months, the festival will offer in-person activities at their main hub located in Dubai’s Design District, as well as in other locations across the city. Centered around uplifting the creative community in the name of sustainability and purpose, attendees will be encouraged to explore themes of locality, collective work, and the sharing of public spaces.

Speaking to The National, the festival’s creative director Ghassan Salameh notes, ” I was very interested in trying to focus more on design that is responsible and purposeful, rather than the ones that are aesthetically-focused or luxury or the collectible type of design.” “This has always been an important aspect of design for me,” he says. “Our job as creatives is to provide solutions for the different problems the world is going through. We have to be relevant. We cannot sit on the side and keep doing things like we always do.”

Featuring other changes over and above that of its format, participants of this year’s festival will be, for the most part, selected via an open call. Furthermore, the iconic Abwab pavilion, which features commissioned architectural models, will now be drawn from submissions by creatives in the MENA region. Once again oriented around the issue of sustainability and shared space, participants will propose concepts for modular, functional, and sustainable structures that tackle issues such as shelters for extreme weather conditions and spaces that consider physical distancing guidelines as a way to halt the spread of Covid-19. In partnership with Sharjah-based environmental company, Bee’ah, Abwab 2020 will also provide participants with recycled and up-cycled materials, from which to create their works.

While attendance at the festival is likely to drop from last year’s figure of 90,000 attendees, Salameh and his colleagues feel strongly about persisting. Altering their offering on account of the ever-evolving landscape, the director notes “It was very clear that our role as Dubai Design Week should be about giving back or supporting the community as much as possible because they’re really struggling.” “The idea is to preserve continuity for the community and give them the opportunity to exhibit their work,” he says.

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