A few months ago, news of the Expo 2020 win for Dubai broke out. It was all the news seemed to report on for a short while. My inbox filled up with reports on the effect the Expo would have and how great it would be for Dubai’s economy.
But then the news cycle does what it always does and moved on to something else. Designers stopped talking about it and PR agencies stopped sending out news bits centred on the big announcement.
This month, I saw a revival of Expo news. With Downtown Design and the Hotel Show on the horizon, it seems that Expo 2020 is back on the public conscience. Designers, architects and clients alike are constantly being reminded of the pressure to ‘stand out’ and create projects that will create a lot of buzz against the increasingly competitive market. But is this good advice?
Being told to stand out is only going to lead to misguided designs that resort to kitsch aesthetics. Designers, as hard as it may be, should try to resist any pressure from Expo 2020 to create ‘crazy’ designs, and instead continue in maturing Dubai’s design landscape. The Expo will be a great chance to show that Dubai, and the Middle East in general, is a mature voice in the international realm of design and architecture.
Our region’s future in the art scene doesn’t stop in year 2020, it will persist long after it. And the buildings that go up today and tomorrow will be standing long after the Expo. The statement we’re trying to establish should not centre on ‘crazy’ or ‘themed design’; instead we should be working to ensure that the Middle East is a growing voice of reason and design philosophy in the international arts community.