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Highlights from Dubai Design Week

Dubai Design Week 2019 was on from November 11-16 at Dubai Design District (d3). Havelock One Interiors’ marketing team visited Downtown Design, the festival’s main highlight, which features the latest works of regional and global design houses encompassing architecture, interiors, product design, multimedia and graphic design. If you missed this fair (and weren’t as lucky as we were, receiving VIP tickets from the French Business Council), here’s a roundup of the displays that caught our attention and our key takeaways from the talks and workshops we attended.

The new market drivers of design

Sustainability, technology and the changing demographics are the new value drivers of the built environments of the future. In the last decade, we’ve seen engineering and architecture professionals step up by promoting green building construction and governments have followed suit. Now, countries like the UAE, for example, have developed their building code and rating systems for sustainability. Across the GCC and elsewhere in the world, investments are pouring in to build smart, sustainable cities aiming to cut carbon emissions and offer climate-resilient communities.

Improving customer experience at retail shops

Brick and mortar retail shops are not dead. This was a clear message during “The Future of Retail Design“, a panel discussion between architects and major retailers in the region. To attract more customers to visit retail shops, the panel recommended focusing on enriching the customer experience by designing shops inspired by the local customers’ characteristics, culture and preferences. More than just integrating digital technology, retailers need to provide their customers with a memorable tactile experience and quality human interaction that digital shopping alone cannot offer.

Sustainable, ecological designs are the new norm

Generation Z will be taking over the leisure market very soon. Hotel owners and designers are now preparing for this new generation of consumers known for being digital natives (similar to Millennials but) with an appetite for products that are genuine or ecological and a liking for instant gratification. Panel speakers of “Shifting Focus” agreed that hotels need to conceptualise designs and experiences that cater to Gen Z’s values and beliefs – designs that are sustainable, eco-friendly, genuine and “Insta-worthy.”

Redefining Middle Eastern contemporary architecture

There is no denying that the region has become an architectural playground in recent years. Investments in mega projects have essentially redefined the landscape of cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah, Muscat and Manama. Anticipating the future, architects from Saudi, UAE and Bahrain representing regional and global design houses highlighted the need to preserve, promote, and define Middle Eastern heritage in contemporary architecture to establish a unique identity beyond the initial awe and gasps of the sight of skyscrapers.

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