What does design mean to you?

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What does design mean to you?

With the inaugural edition of the Dubai Design Week kicking off on October 26, we attempt to answer this anything-but-simple question.

By Sujata Assomull

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Published: Thu 22 Oct 2015, 9:19 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Oct 2015, 11:25 PM

Design shapes our lives more than we know. From the ease or irritation with which you switch off the morning alarm on your phone to the pleasure with which you drive your car to how comfortable the chair you sit in for hours every day is, design rules every moment of your life. We live in such a designed world that if we don't consciously pick well-designed products, our life will be poorly, inefficiently and inconveniently lived.

The pervasiveness of design is in contrast to its understanding or even consciousness. But a good designer would not lament that. Because great design is inherently invisible. Says Gentry Underwood, head of design, Dropbox: "Great design often disappears, leaving the user with no more than a simple and intuitive experience. A well designed airport is one where we have no trouble finding our flight. A well designed restaurant entrance is one where we know just where to stand when waiting for a table. It's only when we can't do common actions like these - when we fuss and fiddle and find ourselves lost - that the importance of design becomes apparent." So, as Apple founder Steve Jobs would often say, "Design is not how something looks or feels like. Design is how it works."

Dubai prides itself as elegantly designed. Its design consciousness is evident everywhere - from high-rises and highways to beaches and bus shelters.

The city now has an institution dedicated to design - the Dubai Design District (D3). It's inaugural Dubai Design Week (DDW) kicks off on October 26. Coinciding with DDW is Downtown Design Dubai - a four-day trade event that has already become an important part of the international art and design calendar. It will have the participation of over 90 brands, including Aati, Gaggenau, Kartell and Christofle.

The DDW aims to promote regional talent and give international designers a platform to become better acquainted with this growing market. 'Abwab', which means 'doors' in Arabic, will showcase emerging and established talent from the region within individual pavilions under a central theme. For 2015, the theme will be "Games: The Element of Play in Culture'. Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE will participate.

Other initiatives include a global graduation programme, and a unique alliance with six international Design Weeks - Beijing, Helsinki, Istanbul, Melbourne, Mexico City and San Francisco - where each will present three of their most exciting emerging designers at DDW.

We talk to some of the key stakeholders at Dubai Design Week to find out what design means to them.

Cyril Zammit

Director of Design Days Dubai and a member of the management team for Dubai Design Week, Cyril started his career at the Institut Francais Prague. Having worked at the cultural department of The French Embassy in London, and at HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) before relocating to the Emirates, the Parisian-born expat truly believes that Dubai has established itself as the design capital of the Middle East.

What is design?
Design is first a solution to a problem. It is a practical means to make our lives easier. But it can also be an aesthetical answer to a common matter. Why not make our lives easier and nicer?

The best-designed phone?
The one that matches your expectations. Some might need a high resolution camera; for others, just one that keeps them well-connected.

The best-designed car?
Let's answer with a legend: Sergio Pininfarina. From the popular Peugeot 504 to the prestigious Ferrari, he knew how to turn driving into a lifestyle.

The best-designed shoe?
Maybe JM Weston or Berluti. Having said that, I think you should go with what's comfortable for your feet more than a specific brand.

Fadi Sarieddine

Offering architectural and design services with a focus on furniture design, Sarieddine brings his rich experience to his work by coupling form and function. At DDW, his multidisciplinary studio will showcase its own work desks, which revisit the concept of the work environment, as well as a new collection of small furniture and accessories.

What is design?
Design is the act of answering to a need in the most poetic way possible. The art of creating an aesthetically pleasing artifact that is also practical is what differentiates design from sculpture.

The best-designed phone?
N/A

The best-designed car?
The old Volkswagen Beetle. It was the most produced car in the 20th century, accessible to all, and its design was an inspiration to many cars that followed - including the first Porsche.

The best-designed shoe?
The Ramones Boots by Rick Owens. It has redefined the sneaker.

Paige Smith

An artist known for her street art, she is collaborating with the S*UCE Design Shop at D3 to turn their retail space into a mobile design shopping experience.

What is design?
To me, in design, there must be aesthetic - but the aesthetic has to facilitate functionality.

The best-designed phone?
I believe the best machines for the job are Apple. It's easy to migrate to the iPhone for this one. I think its seamless functionality is amazing.

The best-designed car?
I'd say the Tesla. It was the first revolutionary change in automotive design in decades. They're beautiful, functional, and good for the planet.

The best-designed shoe?
There are so many! I'll go with a versatile running shoe for this one though: the Nike Flyknit.

Alexandara du Montaudouin

The co-founder of Dubai's "one-stop destination for fashion, food and design", Comptoir 102, Alexandara du Montaudouin is known for her stylish eye. Her lifestyle space will host the 'Nature in the City' show during DDW, an exhibition about creating a link of organic forms and nature through the works and collaboration of local and regional designers.

What is design?
Design is a revolution. It educates, is aesthetic and aims for technical innovation. It always surprises me and makes me think.

The best-designed phone?
The iPhone, of course. Simple, intuitive, and the first of its kind.

The best-designed car?
It used to be the Aston Martin DB5 mythic car of James Bond - we have all dreamed of owning it! But this is 2015, and the car that is about to revolutionise the car industry is the 100 per cent electric TESLA. That car is all about mixing design and technical innovation, with safety and no pollution as the first priority.

The best-designed shoe?
The Stan Smith by Adidas. I wore them as a teenager and they are still very much in fashion today.



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