By Thomas Shambler
Design Days Dubai is the biggest event of its kind. Dedicated to limited edition collectible objects and furniture, we asked Fair Director Cyril Zammit which objects from the show he most desires
I tend to look at design in the Middle East as the sleeping beauty of the art world. For centuries this part of the world has provided exquisite design and patterns. Luckily, we are now seeing its awakening, with great skills in craftsmanship from the likes of david/Nicolas, Marc Dibeh and Carla Baz, represented by Art Factum Gallery. I'm also looking forward to what Beirut-based Georges Amatoury, Nada Debs, and Bokja have in store for the fair, as well as sister design duo, Nisreen and Nermeen Abu-Dail, of Naqsh Collective. The region now has its own stars with Emirati designers Khalid Shafar and Aljoud Lootah and locally-based designers such as Fadi Sarieddine and Ammar Kalo. Combined with emerging talents, like Talin Hazbar, Latifa Saeed and Amer Aldour, it makes for a very exciting time for design all around the Middle East. From Qatar, we've got Aisha Al-Sowaidi for the first time, and from Kuwait, the premiere of Louwla Al-Radwan’s ‘Peacock’ series.
The Beirut-based Vick Vanlian collection is undoubtedly a stand out. It's theme is “L.P.C.: Love, power, copper”. Copper conducts energy of course, and supposedly elevates mental agility and consciousness to new heights. In the legends of old, copper is said to have been the metal of the Hermes, who bestows upon the metal mental agility and quick wit. The first Spanish gallery to exhibit at Design Days Dubai, Barcelona Design, brings its Amarist Studio, with a series of headline-grabbing new works. They specialize in provocative design, think hand-painted bank notes being burnt, then sat in your living room – that's guaranteed to be a conversation starter. Elsewhere Wiener Silber Manufactur is presenting its own show-stopping collection, ICE_Berg by Alexandre Echasseriau. It's an inspired drinks cooler made of pure silver, that when filed with ice produces its own layer of frost.
Thoughtful and imagination, those two concepts may as well be the theme of Design Days Dubai. To name just a few of the artists championing those ideas, the first would be Sabine Marcelis’ Dawn Lights (at Victor Hunt DesignArt). It's a series of light inspired by the morning hues. Vanishing Point IV by Sebastian Brajkovic (Carpenters Workshop Gallery) is another, with its pure lines that almost disappear in to the floor. Nao Tamura's Flow (Gallery S Bensimon) is also breath-taking, a contemporary multi-strand chandelier inspired by the colours of the Venetian lagoon.
We're seeing the enduring appeal of wood this year. A symbol of warmth and protection, Wood in its various applications is increasingly a part of the fair's line-up. Fadi Sarriedine is one artist who has mastered the complexity of the material, pairing practicality and functionality with beauty in his creations. Ammar Kalo will be unveiling his new collection, also made from layer upon layer of wood. And of course, Coalesce's wooden Lattoo seats, meant to evoke memories of a long-forgotten childhood.
Marble is back. The material most famous for its aristocratic roots has witnessed a huge renaissance in recent years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The innovative designs from Emirati designer Aljoud Lootah are the perfect example, as she revists one of her very first pieces, the Unity Stool, in marble. Veronica Todisco, who is making her debut with Camp Design Gallery, also revisits an adaptation using Carrara marble and Brass. Art Factum, by Niko Koronis' is a display using the colour black and Carrara marble lamps.
Technology will play a bigger part than ever. For example, Cupiditas table by Amarist for Barcelona Design is made of Basalt marble, but can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet. It features a 600-diod LED light core, which makes use of Wi-Fi technology and changes colour depending on your mood. Commonplace Studio's Lumière follows a similar ethos, an immersive lighting work composed of twenty-eight pendant lamps that collectively create a recognizable cloud-like form. A network of custom built micro-projectors are embedded within each lamp fixture, and so the view changes from each vantage point.