Photo Credits: Architectural Digest Middle East

This year’s Dubai Design Week is set to support Lebanon’s design community, which has been dubbed the “creative capital of the region” as the country battles the economic and sociopolitical collapse.

The festival aims to spotlight the country’s rising design talent, and will include architectural installations, product designs, artisanal delicacies, and outdoor music sessions.

Under the theme of regenerative architecture and restorative design, the week will be a celebration of design and creativity in the UAE, and will include free-to-attend engaging exhibitions, pop-ups, installations, talks and workshops, amongst the large array of over 200 impactful activities. It is set to take place in the festival’s main hub, Dubai Design District (d3), in addition to locations around the city between November 8 – 13.

The region’s leading design fair for high-end and quality design, Downtown Design, is making a comeback including over 130 international and regional brands and designers, including some of Lebanon’s own emerging talents. Amongst the 2021 exhibitors is the Lebanese Beirut Concept Store, featuring works by 50 established designers and emerging talents, spearheaded by public relations powerhouse Mariana Wehbe.

According to the Downtown Design website, “the Beirut Store is a highly curated celebration of Lebanese design that will open its doors to the public at Dubai Editions, thanks to the generosity and support of Dubai Design Week.”

“Spearheaded by Mariana Wehbe’s Public Relations, the Beirut Store aims to challenge the norm, with a disruptive approach to showcasing the considerable Lebanese design talent, with an impressive range of accessible and unique products.”

Lebanon is notorious for its lack of funding for the design and arts industries, which have left designers to fend for themselves and bond together in a country that has largely overlooked the importance of creative pursuits. 

Design Week will include the launch of Beirut’s latest design incubator, EXIL, underneath the umbrella of the Beirut Concept Store.

“EXIL works with up-and-coming designers to rapidly transform their concepts into functional consumer and industrial products by providing an incomparable combination of leadership, an experienced and multi-disciplinary team, access to strategic partners’ state-of-art facilities and an extensive funding network.”

EXIL aims to build functional design products at affordable prices for an audience with niche tastes. Some of the designers expected to make their debut with EXIL are Isabella Khoury and Nour Habr, Tatiana Akl, and more.

Other designers and collectives taking part in the Beirut Concept Store including OhmyHappiness, Zeina Bassil, Adrian Pepe, Namika Atelier by Hala Matta, and much more.

The fair is expected to host brands from over 20 countries, including major national representations from European countries like Austria, France, Spain and more. Fifteen installations and public interventions will also be staged across d3, so visitors may explore in an open-air setting. An additional programme of more than 80 hands-on-workshops under the theme of “Paper, Plastic + Play” will also take place.

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Lynn is a Beirut-based journalist. She is a reporter and editor for Beirut Today, actively contributing since 2018 through articles on politics, economics, lifestyle, fashion, and more.