Last weekend it was time for me to finally “Meet D3.” It’s not the name of some kinda R2D2-like robot, but the special pop up event held by Design Days District. It is specifically commissioned and curated to feature a 100 strong creative mix of UAE-based, regional and international designers, artists, musicians, concept retailers and unique dining experiences.
Excitement about the mysterious occasion had been buzzing around for a while amongst the creative community but not many knew EXACTLY what to expect. Something arty? Something chic? Is it more of an urban, underground crowd or aimed at eccentric fashionistas? I found myself asking these very same questions as I perused my wardrobe that afternoon trying to find something suitable to wear.
When I entered, I realised D3 is huuuuuuge. It’s like an artistic little town consisting of unexplored curious looking alleyways crammed with designer pop up shops selling some of the most innovative garments. Some of the brands had flown in from abroad just to participate in the event, lending an eclectic and diverse buzz whilst others were old local time and tested favorites such as Dima Ayad and The Cartel.
In a city saturated with generic malls (as much as i love em) it was really great to browse through brands that were unconventional and inventive. Check out this sculptural top that looks like a face I found from The Cartel!! I had to do a double take as I thought I was seeing things! It’s made by Danish designer Henrik Vibskov.
I loved these colorful birthstone clutches made from marble that I spotted at Faux Consultancy by Lilian Afshar.
And of course, I’m a huge fan of All Things Mochi and their cheerful charming folksy designs. It reminds me of Scandinavian prints.
The piece is by Ebon Heath, and the words are English and Arabic lyrics from the poem “On Beauty” by Kahlil Gibran.
Another cool installation called “Wink Space” designed by Masakazu Shirane + Saya Miyazaki. Very galactic and it feels like you’ve walked into a giant trippy kaleidoscope. I love the way the colors change.
Now for the food. There was everything from organic pulled beef and pear sandwiches to New York style hot dogs from a silver vintage food truck. Those dogs were love at first sniff and looked just like the ones busy cops gnaw on in episodes of CSI. I stubbornly queued up for ages to get one. They say that life’s best moments occur when there’s no camera to document it and that’s precisely why I don’t have a photo of said hot dog. I needed some private time alone with it. It was so awesome I forgot to instagram it.
For dessert I had crispy warm churros drizzled in chocolate sauce from another jaunty looking food truck.
Amongst the rainbow colored alleyways, the programming was further enhanced with the participation of Emirati creative talent such as Khaled Shafar, Bint Thani and Jalal Luqman. As well as this there were plenty of international talents featuring world renowned British singer-songwriter John Newman and industry trends forecaster and presenter, Li Edelkoort, to name a few.
The best part was attending a Willy Wonka style chewing gum workshop.
I got to don a hairnet (I know. The sexyness is blinding) and sniff over 200 flavors, some of which were truly odd (fois gras?? black truffle??!!!! Well, I never)
Then we chose two flavors and proceeded to knead the crap out of our gum to make our own bespoke flavor!
It was such a laugh and truly something I was NOT expecting. I loved how our tour guides were really offbeat, eccentric and theatrical – very true to the wonka character!!
Hailing the success of the Meet d3 event, Dr Amina Al Rustamani, Group CEO, TECOM Investments, commented: “Meet d3” marks the official opening of The Dubai Design District to the world. Through the culmination of teamwork, community spirit, creative innovation and love for all elements of design, it has been a tremendous success. The feedback from the wider UAE community, who showed their support through an overall attendance of more than 30,000, has been incredibly positive and demonstrates a keen appetite for many more such events at d3 in the future”.