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The idea that clients in the Middle East seek ornamented interiors is outdated, say local designers

Promotion: now in its ninth year, Dubai Design Week's Downtown Design trade show has been instrumental in helping the emirate to establish its own contemporary design language, according to local creatives.

Downtown Design is a trade show that takes place during the city's annual design week and is a reflection of how Dubai's economy and design scene is currently booming, according to the event organisers.

Held within the emirate's sprawling design district (d3), Downtown Design includes Downtown Editions – a section dedicated to limited-edition and bespoke design – and is also bolstered by pop-up concepts, design installations, and a programme of talks and masterclasses, networking events and creative experiences.

A person looking at contemporary designs as part of Dubai Design Week
Dubai locals say that Design Week's Downtown Design has been instrumental in helping the emirate to establish its own design language

"Dubai and the wider region have made a significant shift forward in design and architecture in the last decade from our own first-hand experience," said founding principal at architecture studio Anarchitect, Jonathan Ashmore, which was established in Dubai in 2013 before opening an office in London in 2019.

"Where Dubai was often viewed from the outside in, we now rather look at it from the inside out with many design ideas and innovative solutions coming from within the region to the wider world, rather than importing ideas and solutions."

Creatives working in the region agree that the event has helped Dubai to break away from the image of opulence that used to be associated with the emirate and helped it to develop its own contemporary design language.

"The past few years have seen Dubai carve out its own, distinctive design language, one that subtly takes cues from the region's heritage, makes use of locally-sourced materials and responds to its surroundings," said founder and creative director of design studio Roar, Pallavi Dean.

"It's exciting to see how Dubai, and the Middle East as a whole, is nurturing a new wave of talent that is eager to create fun, innovative design, breaking away from the image of opulence that used to be associated with the region."

A photograph of a person looking at a design collection as part of Downtown Design
The event will take place on the in Dubai Design District (d3), on the d3 Waterfront

Meshary AINassar, design director and founder of Studio Meshary AlNassar agrees: "The misconception that clients in the Middle East seek the gilded and ornamented Versailles interiors is outdated."

"Nowadays we see a new generation of well-travelled design enthusiasts with a well-rounded knowledge of brands, designers and aesthetics, and that appreciate and value good design; be it contemporary, modern, or a mix of different styles, the region is hungry for accessible and high-quality design products and special finds," he added.

A photograph of a wooden chair sculpture
Downtown Design takes place from 9 to 12 November

As a result of its trade show opportunities for local brands, Dubai has recently been ranked number two in the "City of Choice" by the Boston Consulting Group for its economic opportunities and has been ranked as the number one MENASA region city to live in by wealth management company Julius Baer, in its recent Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report.

According to the Downtown Design event organisers, this has had a knock-on effect on the real estate market, and according to a recent Dubai Commercial Property Market Report Dubai's residential market "recorded its highest number of transactions ever this February, with the luxury market activity growing 156 per cent annually".

A photograph of colourful artwork displayed as part of Design Week's Downtown Design
Downtown Design includes exhibitions, talks and installations

This year's event, which takes place from 9 to 12 November on the d3 Waterfront in Dubai Design District (d3), will see a number of collections being launched, the introduction of new audience programmes and an ambitious sustainability plan.

To view more about Downtown Design 2022 visit its website.

Downtown Design takes place from 9 to 12 November 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Downtown Design as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.