Design Days Dubai 2015

I usually hate furniture shopping, especially Ikea. (although maybe that’s just ’cause of the bratty annoying children always running riot in there.)

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Design Days however is different. it explores the fine line between design and art and merging the latter with function. In order to get the most out of it, I have to say , it’s no fun just being just a spectator. It’s best to enter with an insatiable amount of curiosity. Seriously, just skip around the fair asking designers “what’s this, what’s this?” just like in the song from Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

It’s really a different experience when you meet the designers and have them explain all these wonderful facts about the design process, what their concepts are and how these pieces are made. In addition to this, there’s a whole lot of activities available for you to really get stuck in and get involved. This year is Design Day’s fourth edition and as well as the galleries, there were also film screenings about how the pieces were made, talks by Audi Design as well as numerous workshops.

So, the question is …what did I fancy trying THIS year?

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I decided to attend a really cool workshop by Van Cleef and Arpels to learn the secret behind the intriguingly entitled “Mystery Setting” which has been a trademark of the brand for decades. Basically, back in the 1930′s all precious stones and diamonds had to be set with an unsightly claw setting. There was no other option but Van Cleef’s artisans came up with an ingenious way to cut the stones individually and slide them into a specially made grid -like base which can be tailor made to any design – even a curved one. This new grid firmly held the stones in place and the method ensured that the stones were flawlessly displayed in smooth, mosaic-like rows with nothing interrupting.

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Instead of claws, they use a much more beautiful discreet technique by smoothing out ridges so they look like beads in between the diamonds. As well as looking better aesthetically, it also reflects gleaming light back into the design. Van Cleef continue to use these highly skilled methods till today and this attention to detail is what makes them really stand out.

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I even got a shot at recreating some of the secrets in the studio. My #ootd was accessorized by some much needed massive magnifying goggles for that geek chic vibe. Whaddya think?

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After that, I took a browse around some of the galleries. Here are some pieces that I really liked this year.

I love this “Palette Rug” made by Belgian designers Lachaert & D’Hanid. It’s colorful, lively and entirely handmade from Judy Straten Gallery. They also have some pretty interesting chairs too.

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Joy Van Erven "chair" trash series Judy Srtaten Gallery

Joy Van Erven “chair” trash series Judy Srtaten Gallery

This fabulous installation is called “Analogue Arabesque” by designer Amer Al Dour. It’s a rectangular screen consisting of repeat circular kaleidoscope like patterns all interlocked and connected with each other. The cool part is that the piece has sensors built within it, so the design constantly whirls around changing according to your own movement! (wheeeee!) The design is based on Arabesque patterns.

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I love looking at cloud formations so I had a soft spot for the Lumière installation by Commonplace Studio . A total of 28 pendant lamps are suspended in space; embedded into each bulb is a custom-built micro-projector that sends images of moving skies onto the frosted underside of each bulb. The view differs depending on your vantage point and serves as “a reminder that having your head in the clouds is truly a beautiful thing”.

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Zaha Hadid’s pieces were gorgeous. The glass mimicked the patterns and ripples present in icy glaciers in nature and these would look stunning in a modern minimalist home. They’re mesmerizing because the surface is actually flat even though it doesn’t seem that way with the whirlpool conical designs in them. I had to touch it to believe it! Seeing is NOT believing.

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There’s something gorgeous and serene about turquoise which is what drew me to Sandra Zeenni’s ceramic collection “Under Azure Waters” exhibited at the Sarreguemines Museum from France. It reminds me of balmy Mediterranean seas and salty fresh air. With this installation in your house, it’s like a little your very own corner of serene. Bliss!

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