x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Design not fashion to define Dubai's newest district

The Dubai Design District is about much more than just fashion, according to the project's executive director.

Dubai Design District will have a hotel area with a mix of luxury five-star and boutique properties, as well as commercial and residential spaces. Courtesy Government of Dubai
Dubai Design District will have a hotel area with a mix of luxury five-star and boutique properties, as well as commercial and residential spaces. Courtesy Government of Dubai

Dubai Design District is about much more than just fashion, according to the project's executive director.

Construction on the development, which will be located next to Business Bay, has already begun.

"The most important thing that I have seen in the press so far is that there is a real focus on the fashion industry," said Lindsay Miller, the executive director of the new district.

"But actually the focus on the district is on the overall design industry, so this is also looking at the interiors market, whether it's soft and hard furnishings or woodworks or things like that. And also the luxury market, so these are things that are beyond fashion, which would include cars, watches, jewellery and other aspects," she added.

The first phase of the district is due to be completed in January 2015. The project cost is expected to exceed Dh8 billion. Tecom Investments, which is part of Dubai Holding, is building 45 per cent of the project and bringing in investors to fund the rest.

The district will have a hotel area with a mix of luxury five-star and boutique properties, as well as commercial and residential spaces in addition to an area for emerging designers. Tecom is also considering design academies and a pop-up shop programme.

"It is difficult for [new designers] to set up a full-time or a permanent location, so we want to make sure they have options to show their work and connect with the tourist base. That can be for designers, for art galleries, for anyone in this field," said Ms Miller.

However, the core of the district will be a commercial area that Tecom hopes will attract international companies.

"I think the thing is that the retail really stands out to people but this is really more about the creative aspects of the design value chain. So it's really about getting the headquarters, for example, of Prada or the headquarters of Gucci," she added.

In the Middle East and Asia, design tends to account for a higher portion of spending on a building, said Ms Miller, making it an exciting time for people looking to get into the industry.

"It's been growing at 17 per cent, and it's expected to hit Dh33.8 billion in 2013, so it is a very healthy market," said Ms Miller.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae