x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Guide to the UAE's biggest design events

Next weekend in Dubai, the Index exhibition and Festival of Interior Design showcase the latest trends and offer plenty of inspiration. Here's what you won't want to miss.

Ecosmart will be among approximately 800 exhibitors at Index. Courtesy of Ecosmart
Ecosmart will be among approximately 800 exhibitors at Index. Courtesy of Ecosmart

There's a design-tastic line-up of events planned for the end of this month, as Index, the UAE's largest and most established interior design exhibition, takes place alongside Dubai's inaugural Festival of Interior Design.

The 2011 edition of Index will unfold at the Dubai World Trade Centre from October 22 to 25, but will only be open to non-trade visitors on the 22nd, so make sure to get there on the first day.

While the show is predominantly targeted at the region's interior design professionals, it's a great place to get inspiration, ideas and, if you're lucky, the odd bargain or two. With some 800 exhibitors from 49 countries, a new format and exciting features on the show floor, it'll be easier to find what you're looking for and is a fantastic way to learn more about both local and international design trends. Entrance is Dh100.

Also taking place over the same four-day period is the first-ever Festival of Interior Design (FOID), which is organised by the Dubai-based Association of Professional Interior Designers (APID). The aim of the festival is to raise awareness of interior design in this part of the world through a series of innovative events.

With so much on the agenda, we compiled a list of the top 10 things to see and do this month.

Shop and awe

Watch for special workshops, events, themed window displays and discounts at your favourite furniture stores. FOID has partnered with the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE), which has given Dubai's retailers and shopping malls a 10-day window during which to organise events and activities that complement the design festival.

"With over 1,000 retail outlets in Dubai alone, the furniture, interior design and its supplier industry is considered to be one of the main pillars in Dubai's retail sector, and we want to further enhance its performance," says Laila Suhail, the chief executive officer of DEPE.


The Pavilion Downtown Dubai will host a series of design-centric events as part of FOID. October 24 has been dubbed "Preservation" day and will start with a screening of Greenhouse, a short film documenting Greenhouse by Joost, an entirely waste-free restaurant concept by Dutch eco-designer Joost Bakker.

The screening will be followed by a video teleconference with Bakker, who says: "Being able to reach out to a Middle East audience allows me to convey my vision of a more environment friendly world to live in. Despite not being able to be physically present at the event, the wonders of modern technology will give me the chance to share my experiences and views on the world's wasteful ways and how we can start making a difference by adopting and implementing more green initiatives."

Eco chic

Keeping with the eco theme, the design firm Blanchard Dubai is presenting its Chic Green installation at Index, which will demonstrate that it is possible to create eco-friendly interiors that are stylish and elegant as well.

Blanchard's feature consists of three disused shipping containers that have been transformed into striking living spaces using the most eco-friendly products on the market. Every product used in the installation has a label explaining what it is and highlighting its green credentials.

Contemporary majlis

While you're at Index, make sure to check out the Contemporary Majlis Competition, in which six local designers present a modern take on this most traditional of spaces. If you're looking to incorporate Middle Eastern design elements into your home, there's no better place to gather ideas. This year's contestants are Carrie Das of AHK International, Basak Yuksel of PF Emirates Interiors, Sinmar Al Said of Internal Line Interior Design, Ghandour El Habre of Khatib & Alami, Mimi Shakhashir of O'de Rose and Rania Mahmoud Hamed of Von Saldern Hamed Design.


Meet the folks behind H&H's weekly Trendspotting column. The Scarlet Opus team will be at the Pavilion Downtown Dubai on October 22 talking about key trends and changes in today's interiors industry.

"The Middle East region has a wonderful cultural heritage demonstrating a wonderful synthesis of vibrant hues and colours in traditional Arabic elements. Our presentation at The Pavilion Downtown Dubai will focus on talking new trends and sharing a view of the future in consumer motivation, design direction and colour," says Phil Pond, dream weaver, Scarlet Opus.

Also at the Pavilion on October 22 is NCS, which will run a seminar entitled Catch the Colour.

Lighting Visione

Everybody knows that good lighting is key to a successful interior, so make sure to catch the Lighting Visione feature in the main concourse of the Trade Centre during Index. The installation will showcase original and iconic lighting products from the past and present, highlighting the latest trends and advancements in this sector. Some of the brands on show include Arturo Alvarez, Brand van Egmond, Lampister, Jacco Maris, Melograno, Dylan Kehde Roelofs, Catellani & Smith, Ingo Maurer and Fontana Arte.


If lighting's your thing, you might also want to head down to The Pavilion on October 23 for Illumination Day. A presentation by Danilo Mandelli from Viabizzuno on the eight rules of light will be followed by a workshop and light-themed soirée by the lighting specialist Beau McClellan.

The Jamjar

The Jamjar, a creative space that works to promote artists and the development of Dubai's arts scene, will be showcasing the eight winning entries of FOID's product design competition from October 17 to 29.

For the competition, members of Dubai's design industry as well as the local community were invited to submit a product design that fit into one of three categories: innovative interior finish, interior furniture or accessories. A jury will pick four winning products, and these will be auctioned off during the FOID gala dinner on October 22.

Artist's Avenue

The artistically inclined should also head to Index's Artist's Avenue, an art gallery on the show floor where art enthusiasts can meet up-and-coming artists and view their latest work.

Artist's Avenue will be surrounded by a number of other galleries as well, so there will be plenty of pieces to ogle. Locally based artists on show include Chrissie Jenkins, Nermeen Abudail from Naqsh Gallery, Samantha and Steve Chambers from The Big Art Company and George Bassil, Amal Al Shamsi and Marina Harris from the Mondo Art Gallery, as well as photographer Neil Corder. You can also take part in informal talks on how art transforms a room, art as an investment and the economics of art procurement.

FOID Congress

A key component of both Index and FOID is a one-day congress taking place on October 22 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Keynote speakers include renowned figures from the world of architecture, fashion and interior design, such as Hadi Teherani, Francesc Rife, David Trubridge and Bruno Triplet. The congress will also feature panel discussions on industry-related topics. Be warned, it's a paid, registration-only event and probably only suitable for the diehard design fans out there.