By Catherine Belbin

Newly formed design practice Etherington, McLaughlin & Associates (ema.) has been commissioned to create a dynamic, high-tech auditorium to sit at the heart of the iconic Downtown Design tent and host the Forum talks programme.

The innovative and intriguing structure is poised to bring the design community together and enrich the dialogue between industry players.

The new design studio ema. was established by the former managing partners of Wilson Associates and is headed by Ian McLaughlin and Tim Etherington, who, as design principal, states, "The Forum represents the heartbeat of the event. It's the platform that represents the sharing of ideas, creates community, and provokes discussion and learning. We will create a visually compelling stand that evolves throughout the event to communicate the characteristics of continuous change that are inherent in design and innovation."

The Forum will enjoy a prominent position at the exhibition, creating an ongoing and energising design dialogue. Recycled and recyclable materials will be used to build up a blank canvas, creating an amphitheatre-like structure to maximise interactions between the speakers and the audience. During discussions, the interior space will be illuminated with dynamic colour lighting fixtures and gobo projectors to create an ambience conducive to exchanging ideas between guest speakers, panelists, and the audience.

The design team has gone to great creative lengths to ensure that the auditorium will always be visually stimulating. "We want to design not only a space but also something that encourages visitors to spark their own discussions, based on the visual representations of the Forum and the conversations," say ema Design Directors Maud Capet and Julie Djohan.

In producing the Forum, ema. has collaborated with some of Dubai's leading specialists: Jab Fabrics will provide the primary materials, Neoalpha Global provide the light and multimedia content and leading interior, and fit-out company Bond Interiors will undertake the build.

Details of the Forum programme topics and participating panelists, including several leading international designers and regional design talents will be unveiled one month before the opening of Downtown Design, taking place between 8 to 12 November.