By Catherine Belbin

Visitors will be immersed in a multi-sensory interactive design installation at the entrance to the upcoming Downtown Design 2021 Fair.

The Downtown Design 2021 entrance, designed by award-winning studio NIU, will be a beacon of contemporary design and technology, that welcomes guests into the ninth edition of the region’s leading design fair.

The focal point of this year’s entrance by the Dubai based studio will be an oversized mosaic-clad caricature, created by artist Antonello Blandi, hand-made by Fantini Mosaici and strategically illuminated with sustainable, innovative lighting from Artemide.

“We've designed an uplifting, inviting and engaging external entrance to the Fair’s tent. A place not just to pass through but a place [in which] to relax, reflect, take shade and even listen to music,” says architect Giorgio Palermo, NIU’s dynamic founder.

“It’s an urban archi-art space. Something that is a landmark, a piece of land art and a meeting place. Visitors can pass through and see the elements usually found in any city: people, trees, seating, archways. It’s somewhere that you can simply walk through, or linger in to enjoy the activities, or even just admire from a distance. Basically, a multi functional space that that every visitor will experience and use differently as they access the Fair,” Palermo explains.

Concept sketch of the Downtown Design 2021 entrance by NIU 

The multifunctional installation will be decorated with a mosaic by Fantini Mosaici, one of Italy's leading brands of hand-cut mosaics, which are found in luxury boutiques, homes, hotels, and palaces. The company’s best-known projects here include the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace and the Palazzo Versace Hotel & Resort.

“We look forward to creating visually appealing and intriguing mosaic elements for the Downtown Design entrance space that will play a key role in reconnecting and reinvigorating the A&D community,” says Enrico Fantin, CEO, Fantini Mosaici.

It’s a scenography of sustainable light, that creates perspective and guides the visitor towards the entrance of the Downtown Design Fair while engaging in a dialogue with nature and building relationships between spaces.” says Carlotta Verdi, Regional Director, Artemide ME.

Wow Factor Building Materials will provide state-of-the-art innovative and sustainable materials for the entrance structures, which will be built and installed by the Dubai-based Vogue Design interior fit-out firm. Another attraction will be a gigantic live tree from the Lapietra Nursery, which will form a significant part of the design while acting as a canopy to providing respite from the desert sun.

A highly diversified design studio, NIU is recognised as being among the top architects in the region, and regularly features in prestigious power lists such as the AD Top 50 and the Design Middle East Top 50.

“We enjoy a challenge and the opportunity to experiment with new materials. That’s why we were delighted to design this very important entrance space in d3 that will usher visitors in and out of what we all expect to be a vibrant return to the live edition of Downtown Design.”