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Dubai Design Week 2018

As many of you are aware, the National Design Academy has not only an office in the UK but an amazing team also in Dubai. There, we run fun and interesting in-studio courses lead by our brilliant senior tutor, Alison Grace-Gahan. Dubai is a complete hub for interior design and art, meaning it’s a perfect place to teach and inform the next group of great designers.

Being in Dubai means that we can have a first-hand look at all of the exciting design developments coming from the UAE. This includes Dubai Design Week, an annual creative festival showcasing Dubai’s position as the design capital of the Middle East. It’s a free to attend, 6-day event in partnership with Dubai Design District.



Our Dubai team took full use of this opportunity and had a ball exploring the week’s activities, even getting involved themselves! On Tuesday 13th, Alison and her team gave a talk in our NDA Dubai studio all about the importance of sustainability in design.

Sustainability can be a confusing topic; with many different theories, facts and ideas bombarding us every day it’s very difficult to know exactly what the effects of a post-industrial world are. One thing we can all agree on though is waste is never a good idea!

As humans, we should be aware of our carbon footprint, hence the amount of waste we generate in any given time.  By making sustainability part of your design philosophy, you can reduce waste and very often, the financial cost of delivering a project itself.

As the size of the project grows, the more materials are used and subsequently, our impact on the environment can be much more severe. Think of your impact on the environment as a footprint; being sustainable makes sure that our footprint is as light as possible.

In order to take the right steps, as designers we must design and create in ways that don’t adversely affect living systems and our natural resources, this can be a challenge and not something you can do alone! Applying sustainability in your designs is an excellent start, but to make a lasting impact, there must be an industry-wide cultural shift. By standing together and advocating sustainability we can we start a momentum change. Only by creating a culture of sustainability in the design industry can we make the impact that is required.

The conversation is never ending, sustainability involves education and knowledge. The National Design Academy opened their studio doors to welcome you to discuss ways in which the informed designer can make greater steps to design healthier, sustainable and creative spaces.

Previously in the world of design, it was suggested that sustainability, recycled or environmentally materials needed to look raw and green (literally), to be considered viable. This doesn’t have to be the case. Creative designers, innovative furniture makers, scientists and technology allow for materials and finishes to be green without looking green at all. You can create sustainable designs that look great without the need to showcase it as ‘Green’.


Global Grad Show

On Wednesday 14th, senior tutor Alison took a bunch of NDA students to the Global Grad Show. An exhibition of creativity and social innovation, it was so appropriate after their talk they held on sustainability. The show had a lot of sustainable design innovations that focused on health and well-being.

Held in partnership with The Investment Corporation of Dubai, the Global Grad Show, a key event of Dubai Design Week, unveils this year’s programme including the main exhibition featuring 150 life-changing inventions by the next generation of designers from across the globe. New this year is the Innovation Conference which looks at creativity in the age of artificial intelligence and automation. Another first is Dubai Evolution Challenge, bringing international and UAE students together.

The Global Grad Show exhibition showcases forward-thinking ideas selected based on their power to accelerate change and improve lives. The designers themselves will present their ground-breaking prototypes, selected from over 1,000 entries. The exhibition will showcase work from 100 universities, including Harvard, MIT and the RCA, alongside projects from institutions from Chile, Jordan and Pakistan.

The projects have been selected and curated by renowned author and designer, Brendan McGetrick. “Global Grad Show is not only a showcase of ideas from the brightest young minds around the world, it’s a celebration of creativity and optimism.” McGetrick explains. “Graduates today are faced with daunting truths such as climate change, automation, and mass migration. Each of these projects offers a restorative solution; an idea of how to make human-scale changes with the hope of bettering humankind as a whole.”

“Belief in AI,” the inaugural Innovation Conference, takes place on November 12 and is curated by Ben Vickers, CTO of the Serpentine Gallery and Kenric McDowell, leader of the Artist + Machine Intelligence program at Google Arts & Culture. The conference will look at the opportunities presented by emerging technologies and creativity combined. It will investigate the role of AI in the future of creativity, education, art, and spirituality.

Also taking place for the first time this year is the Dubai Evolution Challenge, overseen by Tuuli Maria Utrainen from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). Designers will team up to create a future evolution of everyday objects, activities or services that they discover in Dubai.

Owned by the Art Dubai Group, Global Grad Show is supported for the first time by Investment Corporation of Dubai which plays a key role in positioning Dubai as a global enabler for forward-thinking youth and a facilitator of innovation and design, determined to create a better and sustainable future for all.


NDA Dubai had an incredible time at Dubai Design Week. If you visited, what was your favourite part?

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