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The third edition of Dubai Design Week takes place this month, attracting a who’s who of the region’s most high-profile designers, thought leaders, innovators and creators. With a schedule packed with exciting events, exhibitions and activities, here’s everything you need to know before heading to d3…

Learn something

Always a highlight of the programme, this year’s live events schedule looks set to be no different. Opening with a keynote by one of the world’s most influential architects, Sir David Adjaye, in conversation with Emirati commentator Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, the programme also boasts talks and seminars with global design influencers such as PepsiCo chief design officer Mario Porcini and the co-inventor of the Swatch watch, Elmar Mock.

Over at Downtown Design’s forum, thought-provoking discussion events include Creating Your Design Story Through Digital, Urban Design and Forms, Architecting Interaction, Psychology for the End User in Design, and How Fashion Influences Design.

Superbrand Audi will host the Innovation Lounge, featuring a host of talks and the announcement of the winner of the second Audi Innovation Award, while daily workshops – staged in association with the newly launched d3 co-working space Re:Urban Studio – will offer a diverse range of activities for both working design practitioners and the design-curious alike. The next Urban Commissions competition, supported by d3 and Dubai Culture, will also be launched.

Seek inspiration

Known as the Oscars of graduate design and technology, the Global Grad Show will showcase some 200 projects highlighting the ultimate in progressive thinking on the future of design, science and innovation, featuring the work of students from 90 of the world’s most elite academic establishments. High-profile names involved include London’s Royal College of Art, California’s Stanford University and RMIT Melbourne, as well as schools from emerging design centres including New Delhi’s Pearl Academy and Makerere University, Kampala.

 A number of exciting exhibitions are also on the cards for the 2017 DDW. One to watch out for is GraphicsRCA: 50 Years and Beyond, an exhibition exploring the founding and possible future direction of graphic design from the world’s leading post-graduate design school. Offering an insight into some of the most respected graphic design concepts created over the past half-century, the exhibition will feature a carefully chosen selection of works from the RCA archive, rarely seen in public before.

Abwab, DDW’s exhibition of Middle Eastern talent, will feature 45 designs from 15 countries selected through a robust process requiring creatives to nominate another designer upon submission, aptly described as ‘design dominos’. Names to look out for this year include Akya and Carpets CC, both of whom specialise in floor coverings, as well as furniture designers Studio A, Roudha Al Shamsi and Apical Reform. Designed by Hind will showcase porcelain tableware, Mosaico a range of tiles, and an exquisite selection of handmade cribs will be on show from Misk.

At the heart of the exhibition will be an innovative structure designed by Dubai-based Fahed + Architects, utilising repurposed bed springs sourced from waste management firm Bee’ah.

Meanwhile, Iconic City will shine the spotlight on a regional hotspot – this year, Casablanca – through a carefully curated range of new works commissioned by Salma Lahlou. A sound artist, a graphic designer, a photographer and an interior architect portray her interpretation of the design culture and atmosphere of the vibrant city, which also acts as one of the key hubs for creative industries and manufacturing.

Returning closer to home, Once Upon DESIGN: New Routes for Arabian Heritage is a curated collection of contemporary product and furniture design from the UAE and its near neighbours, commissioned by Sharjah’s Design Space 1971. Local talent Noor Aldabbagh marks the milestone moment of the region’s creative heritage of materials and processes by embracing contemporary design.

In addition to the exhibitions, a range of temporary installations will be dotted across d3 including an innovative structure that plays with light, devised by Lujaine Rezk and Albert Kolambel. London-based design studio Fredrikson Stallard will present Prologue – a dramatic, crystal-adorned piece – for Swarovski, in celebration of the opening of its new Creative Centre at d3, while DDW debut designer Paula Zucotti is bringing a thought-provoking showcase based on her popular book Everything We Touch. Honouring the Islamic call to prayer, Lasvit will reveal The Silent Call designed by Khalid Shafar, while Apical Reform’s interactive, playful piece aims to create a My Dubai moment for all visitors to enjoy. There will also be a host of design interpretations inspired by craft from around the Middle East region, including works by Brand Inc, Super Future Design, Aljoud Lootah and Gaflah Jewellery in collaboration with Abdalla Al Mulla.

Family time

Ensuring there’s something for everyone, this year sees the addition of an exciting pop-up programme of activities for all the family. For those serious about shopping there’s the Super Design Market, while award-winning watchmaker Rado will invite visitors to discover the latest collections at its Portraits of Design exhibition. A pop-up Ripe Market will add a laidback vibe to the weekend’s festivities with an eclectic selection of handmade products, while younger members of the family should head for IKEA’s engaging exhibition Let’s Play For Change, intended to inspire us all to integrate play into our everyday routines. To ensure there are opportunities for all the family to interact, there’ll be the Makers Space, hosted by Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children, as well as activities organised by Maska, Urban Sketchers and popular local art studio The JamJar, among others.

And, ensuring the event is accessible to all, the programme of design and creativity activities extends to other venues aside from d3. 2017 highlights include activities being staged at the Etihad Museum for the first time, alongside a return from Design Ras Al Khor, as well as an extensive range of programmes hosted by local creative hubs AlSerkal Avenue and Al Quoz.

Eat, drink and be merry

D3’s very own The Lighthouse is known for its quirky combination of curios and cuisine. Now, it’s collaborated with Downtown Design and AAC Interiors to present a pop-up concept across  both the indoor café and the bar terrace. While they’re keeping details of the changes under their (very stylish) hats for now, we’re told the delicious Mediterranean cuisine and the expected range of homewares, books and travel accessories will remain…