Get Ready for Downtown Design #Dubai

On 27th August, Downtown Design, in association in Dubai Design District hosted ‘Original Talks’.


The worth of an original is far more than the brag-value of its limited edition serial code or its price tag. To invest in the original is to salute the unsung heroes of the creative world, to give them incentive – monetary and intangible – to continue doing the amazing work they do and to give opportunities to our already rich design vocabulary to continue on its upward evolutionary curve.


The Panel - 'Original Talks'.

The Panel – ‘Original Talks’.

“The Fair provides a platform for the Middle East to access these global brands in a setting that allows for meaningful exchanges and recognizes Dubai’s growing role as a global design destination.” Cristina Romelli Gervasoni, Fair Director of Downtown Design.

In the Middle East, Downtown Dubai paves the way for world class design originals for our homes and hotels to take centre-stage and who better than Cristina Romelli Gervasoni, Fair Director, to open a conversation about why an original is covetous. This is exactly what she did, with help from D3 last week as leaders in world design – all of whom represent participating brands in the upcoming edition of the annual show – shared their views on original design.


The Gaggenau CX 491 Induction cook top is arguably the best in the market right now.

The Gaggenau CX 491 Induction cook top is arguably the best in the market right now.

 “One of the key factors for the lasting success comes from a unique collaboration and mutual understanding of designers and engineers.” Mouad Benmoussa, Brand Manager for Gaggenau.

For Sicis, their factories are not heartless machine warehouses. They are their creative nerve centers

For Sicis, their factories are not heartless machine warehouses. They are their creative nerve centers

“A unique vision, solid workmanship and strong collaboration between developers, architects, interior designers and global design brands is key to producing original design.” Tareq AbuRoza, Managing Director of Sicis ME.

The Aeros Pendent by Louis Poulsen is a design world classic.

The Aeros Pendent by Louis Poulsen is a design world classic.

“It is important the end user is able to learn how and why original pieces are made the way they are. Downtown Design gives us that platform.” Nader Fleihan, Regional Business Development Manager at Louis Poulsen Lighting.


The Fair’s 2014 edition runs from October 28-31 2014 at The Venue, Downtown Dubai.  For more information, visit here.


H_Edge Makes its U.K. Debut

Following the huge popularity of its appearance at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence, the dynamic sculpture H_Edge is being exhibited in the UK for the first time.


Cecil Balmond, the critically acclaimed British architect and designer has been making his way into the world of Art. What he sees as an extension of the work he has already been involved in, his latest offering allows design-art lovers to experience the brilliance of the award-winning designer intimately, with H_Edge making its UK debut in a fascinating, bespoke configuration in the reflecting pool opposite the Allen & Overy building in Spitalfields, London.  The collaboration comes as part of the ongoing Bishop’s Square public sculpture programme curated by Dickson Russell.

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The work offers a unique view of Cecil Balmond’s world of diverse shapes and forms. By day H_Edge echoes its environment in an expansive reverberation of light and colour. By night, illumination transforms the same location into an ethereal space; its complexity creating a chiaroscuro effect against the surrounding darkness.



“H_Edge embodies concepts of nothing and everything; infinity and zero, creating a powerful experience that resonates with our primal affinity with space and form.”

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For the designer, H_Edge is more than an art installation as he explores a new dimension within the city; a non-space; for contemplation and reflection. Using thousands of ‘x’-shaped aluminium plates which are held, one above the other, in tension by stainless steel chains, the designer effectively blurs the boundaries between art and structure, layers of silver planes form an ethereal, metallic, installation that visitors are free to walk around, within and through.

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For more on Cecil Blamond visit here. To know more about the Bishop’s Square arts programmme at Spitalfields go here.





Weaving for a Brighter Future.

FMBI collaborates with the New York based award winning designer to create a collection of handmade carpets towards empowerment of Afghan Women.


UAE based FBMI, Her Highness Sheikha Fatema Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Initiative, is proud to launch its latest collaborative venture with internationally renowned designer Norma Kamali. The collection of 12 handmade carpets are designed to draw focus on the plight of Afghan women and to give them an opportunity for employment and empowerment.


Launched in 2010, FBMI is a unique enterprise that takes a comprehensive approach to development leveraging both private entrepreneurship and sustainable social services. It offers women employment in the weaving industry, while also providing them critical social services including training, healthcare and education.


“I am honoured to be part of this wonderful opportunity to design a commercial product for the global market created by the women of Afghanistan. ” – Norma Kamali.


Norma Kamali is an internationally recognised designer who is lauded for a timeless and innovative approach to fashion. Norma’s entire career has been a platform for her life goal which is to help, enhance and empower women. It is this passion that has inspired the collection and the collaboration for Afghan women.



Mathieu Lehanneur for Audemars-Piguet

 Art Basel was the perfect backdrop for the French designer to shine light on the luxury brand’s DNA.

The contemporary art fair Art Basel,  provides Mathieu Lehanneur with an opportunity to literally scan the Joux Valley, the Swiss birthplace of Audemars Piguet, and reproduce the DNA hanging in the air. The French designer once again rose to the challenge of creating a magical and seductive setting drawing from nature without imitating it thanks to extremely innovative resin and fibre moulding technology.

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Keen to purport good links between technology and nature to achieve a better society free of ecological discourse, Lehanneur went to cast the Swiss landscape. A perfect impression of these rocks was formed, like an alphabetical primal blueprint enabling him to create his own version of the valley on the luxury brand’s stand.


“I am inspired by nature, technology and the design opportunities that they provide. I wanted to take on the beguiling landscapes of the Joux Valley for this project as they played an essential role in the history of Audemars Piguet.”

The convincingly realistic result, catapults the landscapes to the ranks of the most isolated and difficult in Europe, in the crowded realm of the largest contemporary art fair in the world. A valley without gravity, reminiscent of Pandora’s floating mountains in Cameron’s film Avatar, which confirms the French designer’s power to extricate magical images and situations free of any restrictions.



Memories of Turkey

On the 5th June 2014, Turkey, inaugurated its début exhibition, Places of Memory, at its long-term pavilion at the prestigious Arsenale.

One of the newest countries to participate in the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, Turkey’s project Places of Memory is a thought-provoking and lyrical exhibition that examines Istanbul’s urban transformation. The exhibition is commissioned by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (ÝKSV), and curated by architect Murat Tabanlýoðlu.

The Pavilion of Turkey_FUNDAMENTALS_Venice Biennale 2014

“Living in a city like Istanbul—which is experiencing an incredible urban transformation, especially in the last decade—it seems vital to look at what really is happening,” explains Murat. “Being aware that architecture and the built environment is not solely related to their subjects, but also related to our own memories about the place.”

The Pavilion of Turkey_FUNDAMENTALS_Venice Biennale 2014

“What if we lose these? Are we about to lose our own memories? Let’s for a while try to relate to the built environment through our own experiences” –  Murat Tabanlýoðlu


The exhibition book, also entitled Places of Memory, was commissioned to accompany the project based on interviews with Murat Tabanlýoðlu, Pelin Derviþ, Alper Derinboðaz, Metehan Özcan, Candaþ Þiþman, Ali Taptýk and Serkan Taycan, conducted by Luca Molinari, the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia in 2010. Places of Memory is edited by Pelin Derviþ and designed by Aslý Altay (Future Anecdotes Istanbul) who has also designed the communication materials of the project.


Rem Koolhas lights up La Biennale di Veniza

The legendary Dutch architect teams up with Swarovski to create Luminaire, the showstopper at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia.

Luminaire by OMA in collaboration with Swarovski, (c) Gilbert McCarragher (5)

Rem Koolhas is in a league of his own. The celebrated architect, urbanist and the founding partner of OMA made it his mission to bring to light new modalities of architecture and planning; co-founding The Volume magazine in 2005 being a step further in bridging people and their built environment.

Founded in 1975, OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) in a tiny office in Rotterdam, the brain child of Koolhas and his founding partners – Elia & Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp – is today a global design force with presence in Far –East Asia, the Middle East and Central Americas.

Luminaire by OMA in collaboration with Swarovski, (c) Gilbert McCarragher 2

Rem, on his part, through the diverse projects – ranging from creating new cities to designing luxury lifestyle stores, private villas, public libraries and town centers – has enriched people’s lives with meaningful, humane design responses. His collaboration with Swarovski, to create Luminaire,  the dramatically light entry to Monditalia, one of three exhibitions that make up the distinguished Dutch architect’s ambitious presentation of this year’s 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia being the latest.

Luminaire by OMA in collaboration with Swarovski, (c) Gilbert McCarragher 3

The majestic structure, resembling a grand stage set, measures 6 metres in height by 20 metres in length and is made up of thousands of vibrantly coloured glass light bulbs and 15kg of Swarovski Crystal Rocks, all set on an elaborate wooden framework. Together the crystal and light highlight the traditional Venetian archways, evoking the elaborate Renaissance façades of Venice’s palazzos. Luminaire also references the grand-scale urban lighting installations that are an integral part of Italian culture, often associated with celebrations and religious feasts, even forming a centerpiece in several of Federico Fellini’s films.

Luminaire by OMA in collaboration with Swarovski, (c) Gilbert McCarragher 4


 “The topics of Monditalia are the current state of Italy… perfectly introduced by a special entrance gate which we developed with Swarovski.” Rem Koolhas


Constructed in a traditional workshop in Puglia by a family-run business with generations of manufacturing experience, Luminaire is a gateway into a very different Biennale, one where the established order of contemporary architecture is investigated, upturned and chronicled, with art, science and entertainment coming together to decipher the legacy of a century of Modernism. This year’s International Architecture Exhibition, entitled Fundamentals, is a major re-staging, renewing the Biennale’s emphasis on the history of architecture and architectural culture. Luminaire brilliantly illuminates the past, present and future.

14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia / FUNDAMENTALS / 7th June – 23rd November ’14.


Chanel Cruises into Dubai

How can we not veer into fashion when Chanel’s 2014/15 Cruise Collection is about to be unveiled in Dubai in less than 24 hours? Special contributor and Dubai based fashion design educator Yohann Proux gives a  low down on the collections from the past. If there is any red thread through the years, its unapologetic luxury – which in itself suits the Emirate perfectly.


MAY 13, 2009 / VENICE

“Coco on the Lido,” as Lagerfeld called it, the collection was staged at Coco’s favourite summer haunts. Reinstating the long-lost leisurely sensation of a fashion show as an exceptional one-off experience, silent movie era hair and make-up strung along a collection featuring tricorne hats and cloaks, dresses fashioned in plissé knit, shimmery sequins and glass embroidery imitating the play of light on Venice’s water.



Nostalgic like a Riviera movie, the ambience was leisurely as models sauntered in bare-feet, with relaxed hair and barely-there face paint, wearing seventies-esque diaphanous caftans, long crocheted dresses, ruffle-lapelled silk jersey trouser suits and patchwork denim skirts. Bronzed tans, visible midriffs complimented witty nods to the past from a designer who famously is known to not give the heed to eras gone by. Surely Coco’s love for the balmy location weakened Karl tough stance on sepia memories.



“Too much may not be enough,” Lagerfeld mused at show’s end. But when you book out arguably one of the most expensive hotels in the world – the Hotel du Cap – for your show, excess is of the essence. Inspired by the likes of Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan, the lean silhouette he opted for was more relaxed, less in-your-face sexy. The opening streams of broom yellow and lilac hinted of the local summer flora as models marched to the beat of Prince.

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“Frivolity is a healthy attitude,” Karl said after the show. “I know people who were saved by frivolity.” His muse for the Cruise Collection this time, was not as lucky. As models stomped the grounds of Versailles, Mary Antoinette’s influence was indelible. Formal eighteenth-century details, like exaggerated hips etc. were re-imagined in casual twenty-first-century materials —chambray, tech denims, even plastics. Frothy lace ruffles and cuffs, even a beauty spot by the way of the double C on the cheek – Mary was alive and well.

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 MAY 09, 2013 / SINGAPORE

Karl took Chanel on a holiday and his troop celebrated at a disused nutmeg plantation mill in Singapore. Cricket culture played a huge role in the years’ collection as sweaters with shoulder-wide, deep V-necks worn with shirt and tie, accessorised with shinguards and cricket bats made quite the theatrical impact. Chanel’s signature palette of cream and black might have been a nod to the black and white bungalows of colonial Singapore, but decked in a lounge suit – easy wide-legged pants with long belted sweaters – the quintessential Chanel woman made a statement very much of the times.

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May 13, 2014 / DUBAI

A nod to one of the biggest luxury markets in the world, Chanel lays anchor by a private island off the coast of Dubai to host its latest Cruise Collection at a rumoured budget of USD 2.5 million. Going by the ivory and gold invitation’s essence of Islamic iconography with an Art-Deco twist, the Dubai edition of the long standing Chanel tradition (Coco debuted the first cruise collection back in the 1920s), is sure to be dripping in luxury.


The Invitation to the Chanel Cruise Collection showcase in Dubai.

For more information visit Chanel here