Visitors to this year’s fair will be welcomed by a mesmerising modular installation titled ‘IOTA’ staged by Lebanese multidisciplinary design duo Karim Tamerji and Elias El Hage. 

The site-specific installation, supported by House of Today, is specially designed for Downtown Design to welcome visitors to this year’s fair. It is made as a cluster of freestanding and stackable earthen spheres, hand-crafted in varying colours and textures. It represents a celebration of the Middle East region and its natural resources. 

Paramount to its creation is the use of sand–one of the most abundantly found local materials. The concept and idea for ‘IOTA’ was conceived in Dubai and in accordance with Downtown Design’s mission towards sustainability, “Sand has existed timelessly and, in many ways, paints a meaningful picture of the city's history, culture and identity,” explained the designers regarding their inspiration behind choosing to use sand, one of the most natural materials native to the region. “Instinctively, we saw this as an opportunity worth embracing, while asking ourselves — how can we use the most abundant local material as an ecological ode to Dubai?

To create the installation, the designers moulded the material and also used an age-old rammed earth technique. Powerful in its finished form, the installation remains open to the sky in a playful layout allowing visitors to navigate to and from the entrance of the fair whilst also defining areas of circulation and rest.

Reimagining material as form, the designers explore a timeless and perceptibly heavy material as contemporary, soft and ‘weightless’ using a handmade technique, pushing its technical and aesthetic boundaries. The end result is one that is as magnetic in visual form as it is in its message of dedication to the local Arabian environment.

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