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An annual line-up of compelling live interviews and discussions, The Forum at Downtown Design hosted regional and international thought-leaders, architects, interior designers and key industry profiles on each afternoon of the fair.

2022 PROGRAMME


Building A Global Design Brand

Building A Global Design Brand

Wednesday, 9 November
15:00 - 16:00

Keynote: Kelly Hoppen CBE, in conversation with Talib Choudry, AD Middle East

Over the past 45 years, the Iconic interior designer has not only honed her signature into an art form - but has built a global design empire spanning across design products, books and TV deals - and of course exclusive residences, luxury hotels and yachts around the world. Known as much for her business acumen as she is for her impeccable taste, Kelly Hoppen shared the most valuable lessons she learnt on her journey to success and where she is headed now.

Moving from Fast to Slow Fashion: The textile evolution

Moving from Fast to Slow Fashion: The textile evolution

Wednesday, 9 November
17:00 - 18:00

The rise of fast fashion has created environmental and social side effects… Can the fashion world reverse the trend and (re)start to produce with a focus on sustainably sourced fabrics and develop a circular economy.

Speakers: Massimiliano Giornetti (Polimoda) Maria Hibri, Huda Baroudi (Bokja Design), Bani Singh (Grounded Design)

Moderator: Jeannine Yazbeck

 

Panel Discussion: The Currency of Creative Storytelling

Panel Discussion: The Currency of Creative Storytelling

Thursday, 10 November
13:00 - 14:00

Connection with a story has become a necessity. As a result, designers have taken on the mantle of authors and narrators, a talent that is as much a commercial skill as it is a creative gift.

Speakers: Duccio Maria Gambi (cc-tapis represented by Iwan Maktabi), Jassim AlSaddah (Babnimnim Design), Pallavi Dean (ROAR)

Moderator: Pratyush Sarup (AD Middle East)

Panel Discussion: Hospitality Firsts

Panel Discussion: Hospitality Firsts

Thursday, 10 November
14:00 - 15:00

As Dubai’s hotel market continues to evolve, operators are looking for new ways to differentiate their properties. The panel discussed how architects and interior designers can introduce fresh ideas; from Dubai’s reputation for luxury to how the city’s shifting hospitality scene impact the guest experience.

Speakers: Pooja Shah-Mulani (LW Design), Husain Roomi (H2R Design), Tristan Du Plessis (Tristan du Plessis Studio), Frederico Cruz (Kerzner International)

Moderator: Ben Thomas (Sleeper Media)

Is waste ’a design mistake’?

Is waste ’a design mistake’?

Thursday, 10 November
15:00 - 16:00

What are the next steps for adapting to sustainable materials and implementing circular processes? A shift led by designers and architects would make a significant impact in the construction industry’s environmental footprint; who do we, as a community, pave the way for good choices, transparent solutions and design for longevity?

Speakers: Caroline Bos (UN Studio), Diane Thorsen (Gensler), Gitte Nyhus Holm (Kvadrat), Cecilia E. Ramos (Lutron)

Moderator: Frederic Sicre

Running a Design Business and Work Culture: Curated by RIBA Gulf Chapter

Running a Design Business and Work Culture: Curated by RIBA Gulf Chapter

Thursday, 10 November
16:00 - 17:00

In this talk, the panelists explored how working in a design office is changing post-Covid, what designers look for now in their work environment, and how leaders can create a positive culture for their team, looking to discuss their views and actively engage the audience for their thoughts and experience on the topic.

Speakers: Marc Roca (XBD Collective), David G Daniels (KILLA Design), Jennie Binchy (Binchy & Binchy), Agnes Koltay (Koltay Facades)

Moderator: Dara Towhidi (DESIGN TOMORROW)

Is Sustainable Design The New Gold Standard For Luxury Living?

Is Sustainable Design The New Gold Standard For Luxury Living?

Thursday, 10 November
17:00 - 18:00

Whether out of necessity or by choice, eco-friendliness and sustainability are emerging as the new core ideas that are being incorporated into the luxury housing market. This panel discussed the topic of the rise of green initiatives in luxury real estate.

Speakers: David Schill (Aritco), Meshary AlNassar (Studio Meshary AlNassar), Nikki Bisiker (Nikki Bisiker Interior Design), Sawsan Haber (Dipiugi)

Moderator: Marina Mrdjen (Intelier)

State of Sustainability: Can architecture enter a virtuous cycle?

State of Sustainability: Can architecture enter a virtuous cycle?

Thursday, 10 November
18:00 - 19:00

How important if not urgent should architecture use design strategies that reduce the negative environmental impact of the building industry.

Speakers: Islam El Mashtooly (OBMI), Shahad Alsudais (Quartz Architects), Bisher Tabbaa (FADAA Architecture), Arianna Bavuso (ABAC Architects)

Moderator: Adina Hempel

Palast der Republik Burj Khalifa

Palast der Republik Burj Khalifa

Thursday, 10 November
19:00 - 20:00

Artist’s talk: Jasmin Werner and her installation at Dubai Design Week: "Palast der Republik Burj Khalifa" that connects architectural fixtures in Berlin and Dubai.


Moderator: Fareed Majari (Goethe-Institut Gulf Region)

Panel Talk: Innovating for Tomorrow, Today!

Panel Talk: Innovating for Tomorrow, Today!

Friday, 11 November
13:00 - 14:00

As more and more consumers adopt a planet-friendly mindset, what does the future hold for design brands and designers? What are the emerging values that will guide upcoming projects, big and small? And how will the design community impact real change that goes beyond buzz-word laden context?

Speakers: Suzanne Tick (Suzanne Tick Inc), Alan Orchard (Kohler), Omar Sartawi, Carmelo Zappulla (External Reference)

Moderator: Hareth Albustani (The National)

Keynote: Carl Gerges, in conversation with Pratyush Sarup - AD Middle East

Keynote: Carl Gerges, in conversation with Pratyush Sarup - AD Middle East

Friday, 11 November
14:00 - 15:00

Hitting The Right Note

Known to many as a musician, Carl Gerges started the hugely successful band Mashrou’ Leila with a group of fellow students while studying architecture in Beirut. Now, he is applying the same composer's approach to architecture - ‘thinking stenographically - to develop projects that are intimately linked to nature and to their locality. In this keynote, the polymath talked about why an authentic approach to context is key to the sustained success of the built environments of tomorrow.

Experiential Design Redefined!

Experiential Design Redefined!

Friday, 11 November
15:00 - 16:00

From homes and offices, to hotels and leisure, creating a memorable experience is key to any project’s sustained success. As we (thankfully) move forward from ‘made for Instagram’ moments, what is the formula for truly memorable experimental spaces that have the power to move you?

Speakers: Monica Arango (C’est Ici Design), Ralf Steinhauer (RSP Architects), Pasquale Junior Natuzzi (Natuzzi), Christiane Lemieux (Lemieux et Cie)

Moderator: Miriam Llano (Amphora)

Education – Transitions to Work: Curated by RIBA Gulf Chapter

Education – Transitions to Work: Curated by RIBA Gulf Chapter

Friday, 11 November
16:00 - 17:00

Exploring what designers are being taught in university, and how they are now taught in a post-COVID landscape with digital learning more embedded, this session discussed what skills the industry needs from graduate designers.

Speakers: Alzaina Lootah (American University of Sharjah), Faysal Ali (Parsons), Nadia Mounajjed (Abu Dhabi University), Andy Shaw (AMA / RIBA / HW)

Moderator: Juan Roldan Martin (American University of Sharjah)

New Technologies in Art, Design & Craft. What's left from the real world?

New Technologies in Art, Design & Craft. What's left from the real world?

Friday, 11 November
17:00 - 18:00

From CNC to metaverse, from robots to AI, what is left in the analog world when it comes to creating in Art and Design. Can the new products be only invented with a digitally-assisted programme?

Speakers: Ali Bahmani (Cafe Bazaar), Alhaan Ahmed (ARDH / DATEFORM), Mario Gagliardi (Mario Gagliardi Design)

Moderator: Cyril Zammit

 

Terminal G by Iwan Maktabi

Terminal G by Iwan Maktabi

Friday, 11 November
18:00 - 19:00

Terminal G is a creative journey and a dialogue around today’s topics in the Gulf Region. The Collection commissioned by Iwan Maktabi focuses on the art of weaving and sources inspiration from GCC Cultures. 

Speakers: Mohamed Maktabi (Iwan Maktabi), Samer Yamani (Creative Dialogue), Sultan Abdulaziz, Aseel AlYaqoub, Sheikha Bin Dhaher (Abjad Design)

Moderator: Cyril Zammit

 

Space to breathe: Architecture that references culture

Space to breathe: Architecture that references culture

Friday, 11 November
19:00 - 20:00

Should the Middle East strengthen its focus on referencing culture when it comes to contemporary architecture. There is a need to preserve and develop a regional identity and a specific architectural signature.

Speakers: Sara AlRayyes (Gulf House Engineering), Sumaya Dabbagh (Dabbagh Architects), Fatima Al Zaaibi (Studio D04)

Moderator: Khawla Sayed M. Al Hashimi (Shurooq)

'We Are The Imprints' publication launch

'We Are The Imprints' publication launch

Saturday, 12 November
12:30 - 13:00

'We Are The Imprints' publication launch presented by 1971 Design (Sharjah)

Speakers: Noor Abu Hijleh (1971 Design Space), Jawaher Alkhayyal (Jawaher Alkhayyal Design Studio), Kuvam Sharma (Supper Club), Larah Burhani (LBO Studio)

Working with Our Senses

Working with Our Senses

Saturday, 12 November
13:00 - 14:00

How do our senses come into play when we talk about spaces, design or creative expression; Our first thought might be to activate the five basic senses but how do we identify and address the underlying tones that could trigger a deeper, more meaningful emotional response? 

Speakers: Kristina Zanic (Kristina Zanic Consultants), Sana Maarrawi (Aswad Design), Rabah Saeid (Styled Habitat), Kapil Bhimekar (Leo Burnett)

Moderator: Nisrine El Lababidi (Harf Noon Design Studio)

Envisaging Interactive Spaces

Envisaging Interactive Spaces

Saturday, 12 November
14:00 - 15:00

Putting the end user at the centre of a design scheme is one of the most over-used intent statements in any designer's arsenal. However clichéd it may be, how successfully that is done is really what sets a stellar project apart. How do we distill something ephemeral into the tangible?

Speakers: Elias El Hage (Karim + Elias), Amer Madhoun (Collectus Studio), Daphné Riou (Christie's), Natalia Shustova (Gosha)

Moderator: Miriam Llano (Amphora)

Special Keynote: BMW i Vision Circular

Special Keynote: BMW i Vision Circular

Saturday, 12 November
15:00 - 16:00

Introduction to the car manufacturer concept car with 100% use of recycled materials and 100% recyclability

Speaker: Dr. Hamid Haqparwar (BMW Group Middle East)

Introduced by Cyril Zammit

Mindfulness in Design: Curated by RIBA Gulf Chapter

Mindfulness in Design: Curated by RIBA Gulf Chapter

Saturday, 12 November
16:00 - 17:00

What is mindful design? As designers, should we change the way we design spaces to incorporate a better understanding of mental health? This panel explored the concept and typology of healthy living spaces within architecture, and the impact of spatial designs on current healthy living trends.

Speakers: Shaikha Azzam (Studio DS), Sandra Woodall (TANGRAM Gulf), Jonathan Ashmore (Anarchitect), Hadeel Shaheen (ALDAR)

Moderator: Alia Beyg (Aqua Architecture)

Interdisciplinary Design

Interdisciplinary Design

Saturday, 12 November
17:00 - 18:00

Presented by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

Under the umbrella of Sikka Platform, ‘Sikka Speaks’ announced a panel discussion on ‘Interdisciplinary Design’. Find out more here.

Speakers: Amal Anoohi (Studio Amal Anoohi), Karim Tamerji (Karim + Elias), Lisa Ball-Lechgar (Tashkeel), Abdalla AlMulla (MULA)

Moderator: Noor AlRoumi

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