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Designing Design Days Dubai T Qatar + Issue13

Designing Design Days Dubai T Qatar + Issue13

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Published by Laurene Leon Boym

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Published by: Laurene Leon Boym on Jun 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ubai in March. It was a deliciousnight or a walk on the promenadenear the Burj Khalia. Theevening was ripe with humidityand the sky overhead tintedrich ultramarine blue. On apromenade that encircled aman-made lake with an aqua-color painted bottom, one couldsee the Pavilion rom a distance.A line o guests snaked aroundthe entrance o the temporarystructure, with ladies, patiently waiting, dressed in thelatest Alexander Wang clothing and Acme wedge sandals.Excited chatter in multiple languages, and in the arbackground there was a discreet oud playing its magicallullabies. A ew guests clutched a brown, beige and orangeinvitation in their hands – none o whom seemed patientenough to wait or their turn to get to the ront o theline. At the head there was a man in a thobe and Ray-Ban Wayarer sunglasses. The riendly scene outside the tentcould have been Miami in December or Basel in June.It’s a testament to our shrinking, media-saturatedplanet that the identical scene happens in Dubai, on theeve o the opening o Design Days Dubai. Design Days,as it is aectionately known, is the latest internationalurniture exhibition on the international circuit, albeitwith an Arab slant. It does not diminish in the shadow o its predecessors; it is bursting to the abric seams o thetent with new revelations in local and international limitedurniture. In that way, Design Days Dubai is a revelation,because it eschews the traditional (insert yawn here)stereotype o Arab taste – golden shawarma wrappedin Swarovski crystals with a side order o glitter – orsomething dierent.
 a need FoRdesiGneRFaiRs
Lur L bymlmt th lck f guty  lclly-pruc jct th ar wrl  h rz thrughdg dy du
Sheikh Zayed bi Sultabi Khalifa Al nahya toursthe special preie day atthe iaugural Desig DaysDubai fair.Cyril Zammit, Director ofDesig Days Dubai,discusses desig ithguests at the specialpreie ight of theiaugural Desig DaysDubai fair.
idea to bring a copycat design-art collectablemarket to Dubai. It could work. It was anuntapped market. With buyers already in townor Art Dubai, collecting limited-edition designsseemed like a no-brainer that would enhancethe already privileged Art Dubai brand. Whencollectors buy the art, they need a soa to match!So, in Design Days Dubai, there is thisambitious undertaking, merchandising andselling what amounts to a new independentproduct in a context that many people in theregion would consider a “European” sensibility.Are people in our region primed to understandthe quality, themes and presentations that are anorm in countries with developed art urnituremarkets (UK, USA)? Also, how well does theshow prepare and educate the prospectivecollector? I think a region with our resourcescan do more, despite attempts by the DesignDays Dubai team and the creation o extensiveprogramming and preparation.Importantly, there is still the problem o selling stu and the creation o a category orit. According to one gallerist, who would liketo remain anonymous, “buyers at the show
Guests play ith theAbaya/Kadoora-ispiredfoozball table at theQatar-based virgiiaCommoealth Uiersitystad at the specialpreie ight of theiaugural Desig DaysDubai.
THE BIRTHSlotted in the crowded category o muscularcollectable design trade airs that include suchnotables as Salone del Mobile (Milan), 100%Design (London) and Design (Miami/Basel),this jewel o an exhibition in Dubai can standproud next to its orbear. My spies inside theshow report that it’s stued to the brim withonlookers, many o them potential designcollectors. There is enough buzz and curiosity just or the privilege to view the work insidethe tent structure, and maybe participate in animpromptu chat with a participating designer, aworkshop or a lecture.And it could’ve been Miami Basel in 2006,when Design Days Dubai's Fair Director, CyrilZammit, was working or private bank HSBCin Switzerland and got the ingenious idea tosponsor the sister collectable urniture air,Design Miami. Miami came knocking againwhen, in 2009, at a Design Miami lecture series,Ben Floyd and John Martin o Art Dubai hearda talk about collecting design, by Simon DePury, the eponymous auction house directoro Phillips, de Pury. The duo then got a uniqueare not prepared to pay the price o work onthe international market, and there remains aschism between what collectors will pay or art,and will pay or design.” Witness the ollowingexchange:BUYER: OOH, I LIKE THIS TABLE, IT’S SOPRETTY. HOW MUCH IS IT?Gallery: It is $10,000 (QR36,400) entirelyhandmade. (Buyer says nothing, gives stinkeye to gallerist.) Gallerist continues: Wouldyou like to know the history o the artists?The artists' work has previously been sold orbetween $5,000 and $30,000 (QR18,200 andQR109,000). The work o these artists hasbeen shown at several A-list galleries in thebiggest cities in the world and their designs arein many major museum collections, includingthe Museum o Modern Art, NYC Buyer: I justbought mysel a Bentley, that’s too expensive ora table. Etcetera, etcetera.THE GOODSThe one booth in the March design madness inthe Design Days tent that had Ikea-like pricesto satisy a potential buyer was a truly populistenterprise, the DXB store. In its second year(the rst was 2011), the initiative was brandedin two additional venues (Art Dubai and Sikka).Planned as a showcase or the explosion o cottage creativity in the Emirates, it eaturedaround 40 designers, many o whom made theproduct to sell at the store in their home studios,utilizing locally-produced materials to producelimited-edition objects, artist’s multiples,clothes and textiles. The scene in the DXB storein the Design Days Pavilion was crammed likea New York City subway car, with shoppershoarding pretty bags or their mac babies.
The Proust GeometricaChair o display at the PFEmirates Iteriors stad atthe Desig Days Dubai fair.

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