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Downtown Design's line-up of talks and workshops at The Forum brings together global industry leaders - acclaimed designers, brands, journalists, and strategists, offering crucial insights on the evolving design landscape.


The Programme


New Markets 2021: The Future of Design

New Markets 2021: The Future of Design

Before design firms can contemplate the built environments of the future, they must rethink and reshape their tool-kits to better leverage emerging market opportunities.

Speakers: Ferdinand Cheung (LWK + PARTNERS), Philip Olmesdahl (SAOTA), Dr. Nasser B. Abdulhasan (AGi Architects), David Daniels (SSH), Elie Mrad ( ARADA)

The Empowered Design Client

The Empowered Design Client

They don’t teach client management in design school. Yet, the client-designer relationship is integral to a successful business.

Speakers: Ebba Thott (Sigmar)

The Future of Retail Design

The Future of Retail Design

Since the advent of e-commerce, retailers have tried just about everything to get people back into their shops.

Speakers: Rabih Geha (Rabih Geha Architects) , Doug Shaw (CallisonRTKL), Denise Neri (Aesop), Natalie Holland (Chalhoub Group)

How to Build a Brand

How to Build a Brand

Launching a design business is one thing. Building it into a brand that stands out is the ultimate goal, but the road is littered with upstarts that didn’t make it.

Speakers: Alessandro Minotti (Minotti) , Dara Huang (DH Liberty), Joakim De Rham (Swiss Bureau Interior Design), Cutu Mazuelos (Stone Designs)

Design X Technology

Design X Technology

Intersecting design, art and innovation with emotion, UX is the design currency of the time.

Speakers: Jonathan Chippindale (Holition), Samuel Chuffart (Icona), Michael Vasku (Preciosa)

Designed to Succeed

Designed to Succeed

From a small studio in Sydney to international recognition and A-list clients, Greg Natale's career is a masterclass on the perfect balance between creativity and business savvy

Speakers: Greg Natale (Greg Natale Design)

Creating New Heritage:Contemporary Architecture & the Middle East

Creating New Heritage:Contemporary Architecture & the Middle East

New interventions in the Middle East's urban landscape share a collective responsibility towards supporting the aspirations of the region.

Speakers: Ian Purser (Pace Architecture Engineering+ Planning), Amy Lam (ALAM Creative Design Studio), Sara Abdulla (Dust for Experience Design), Mohamad Al Dah (Dubai Land Department, Government of Dubai)

Design 2021: Insights by Data

Design 2021: Insights by Data

Backed by research and surveys conducted across the regional design scene, this session is curated to help design professionals future proof their businesses.

Speakers: Siddharth Peters (Love That Design)

Digital Marketing and Design

Digital Marketing and Design

When done right, digital marketing can deliver maximum impact for minimum cost.

Speakers: Patrick Abbattista (DesignWanted)

The Power of Design

The Power of Design

From the micro to the macro level, design impacts everything and everyone.

Speakers: Fernando Mastrangelo (Fernando Mastrangelo Studio), Lina Ghotmeh (Lina Ghotmeh Architecture), Ashiesh Shah (Ashiesh Shah Architecture + Design), Sanna Akerlund Gebeyehu (Frankly Aakerlund)

Influencing Design

Influencing Design

Linda Dekkers and Kathryn Hawkes have not only used Instagram to build deeper engagement for design brands, they are now part of the rarefied circle of influencers who have successfully transition into entrepreneurs.

Speakers: Linda Dekkers (Fronteriors), Kathryn Hawkes (Fronteriors)

Beyond Tangible: The Values of Residential Design

Beyond Tangible: The Values of Residential Design

With a growing demand for contemporary design and design-savvy clients calling the shots, goalposts for the premium residential design have shifted drastically.

Speakers: Ebba Thott (Sigmar), Laura Bielcki (Ellington), Fouad Qeblawi (Qeblawi Brooks), Ellen Sohoel (XBD Collective), Andrew Dull ( IMKAN), Cristina Jorge de Carvalho ( CJC Architecture & Interior Design)

The Path to Effective Leadership

The Path to Effective Leadership

Before one can inspire others and align them with the organization's vision, one must master a skill that often gets relegated to the background - Leading The Self.

Speakers: Archana Bhatia

Shifting Focus: The evolving market of Hotel Design

Shifting Focus: The evolving market of Hotel Design

A new generation of leisure consumer has overthrown the design rules established to cater to their predecessors, the Millennials.

Speakers: Adrian Battisby (LW), Pinar Calimano (Four Seasons), Patrick Waring (Silverfox Studio), Sean Clifton (Jestico+Whiles)

Design Trends 2021

Design Trends 2021

Dubai-based trends expert Toni Snyder is the go-to specialist for many leading design brands.

Speakers: Toni Snyder

Oo La Lab : Fragrance Design & Mixology

Oo La Lab : Fragrance Design & Mixology

Oo La Lab is a craft fragrance lab where perfume ingredients are stored in small batches and hand-poured to order.

Speakers: Terry Jacobson

A Designer is  Never Alone

A Designer is Never Alone

A winner of the Swarovski Designers of the  Future Award, the Spain-born, London-based designer has carved a niche for himself with his  elegant, linear and poetic objects.

Speakers: Tomás Alonso

The Next Step

The Next Step

From running the region's top design firms to leaving mega studios and launching their own practices, our panelists have done it all.

Speakers: Carla Conte (Brand Creative) , David Lessard (H+A Global), Yullianna Porter (JLL), Kristina Zanic (Kristina Zanic Design Consultants)

In Conversation with Christian Louboutin

In Conversation with Christian Louboutin

Speakers: Christian Louboutin

Design Economy: What does it mean?

Design Economy: What does it mean?

Perspectives on regional design industries, shedding light on the current state of design ecosystem in the region.

Speakers: Carla Saliba (Infographic.Iy), Mohamed Elshahed (Writer & Curator)

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