The second DesignMENA Summit, held in Dubai, bought together many of the region’s leading voices in the design and build business to look at what the future holds.
Venue was the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai with the keynote address given by New York based designer Karim Rashid.
He heralded the arrival of the “digital age” saying that further exploration of computer derived design is the way forward – as it means less use of materials, so fewer depletion of the world’s resources and also less waste.
Delegates at the event praised Rashid as “extremely charismatic” and “a wonderful deliverer of some thought provoking ideas well outside the mainstream of contemporary design philosophy”.
Panel discussion included creating a design identity for the region by combining the talents of both Emirati’s and ex-pats to create a “Made in the UAE” brand. The discussion agreed it was necessary to redefine what it means to live and work in the country saying: “locals may not be UAE citizens but they live and work here by choice”.
Architect Andre Hughes said: “The word local means that you understand the region and the market – it doesn’t have to mean you were born here.”
Interior designer Isabel Pintado said the standard of craftsmanship in the region was outstanding, pointing to the fact that she had undertaken the fitting out of a restaurant in Washington DC using furniture manufactured in the UAE.
The blurring of boundaries between architecture and art was the subject of another panel debate with Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao heralded as one of the best examples.
Architect Andre Meyerhans was part of the on-stage group. He said: “What the debate soon agreed upon was the necessity to look beyond the original premise and take into account mathematics, physics, even fashion. Brining people from all these fields together is the way that design can develop much further.
Middle East Architect of the Year Salim Hussain spoke on how building design should be connected to its immediate environment and not stand alone.
“There could be an old Roman road running through a site which is not immediately obvious to anyone without the use of a historical map,” he said. “But f that is part of the site than it can be something that is reflected in a design.”
Hussain used the example of the Sydney Opera House with its billowing sail like roof as an example of how a structure can reflect its surroundings.
Workshops on restaurant design, sustainability and how architecture can make for a better environment concluded the event.
Designer Nigel Craddock was another member of the panel groups. He said: “We need a lot more of these events and we need to get members of the government and the Dubai Municipality involved so they can sit down and see what it is we in the design community are trying to achieve and the breadth of our ideas.”