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Downtown design visitor numbers up by 40 percent as the fair receives international and regional acclaim from industry experts and confirms its position as the leading design platform for the region

 11/5/2014

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• Downtown Design sees an increase of 40% in attendance, welcoming 5,000 trade professionals and 2,000 visitors to the fair
• Downtown Design establishes itself as a key catalyst in the growth of the design industry in Dubai
• Innovation plays a leading role at the fair as the Art Dubai Group continues to make innovation a central theme throughout its initiatives 

Dubai, UAE – 5 November 2014 – Downtown Design, the Middle East’s platform for contemporary, quality design, announced a highly successful 2nd edition, with a 40% increase in the number of visitors over the past year and an increase of 20% in the number of exhibitors. 
Held under the Patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), and under the sponsorship of Emaar Properties and Dubai Culture; the contemporary design fair took place at The Venue at the foot of the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, Emaar’s flagship development in Downtown Dubai. 

Organized by the Art Dubai Group and themed “Original Design”, the second edition of Downtown Design showcased a multi-faceted programme that linked historical design with the future, global with home-grown, and innovation with imagination. The fair attracted a record number of international, regional and local visitors who had the chance to learn about the latest trends in design, whilst enjoying a packed programme of collection launches by the world’s trendsetting brands, installations by regional designers and innovations never before seen.

Alongside the exhibition, the fair held a talks programme with a stellar line-up that included  Mario Bellini, multiple award-winning architect and global design icon; Aric Chen Curator of Design and Architecture at the upcoming M+ Museum in Hong Kong; Giovanna 

Castiglioni, Vice President of the Achille Castiglioni Foundation; Claudio Luti President and Owner of Kartell and former President of the Salone del Mobile and Ab Rogers and Head of Programme for the interior design course at the Royal College of Art, London.

The attending international designers and exhibitors all praised the quality of Downtown Design and noted the potential for the local design industry to grow. Mario Bellini said: “Dubai is a candidate to become a design centre and hub in this region not just in Dubai – since its beginning Dubai has been based on exchange with an entrepreneurial attitude: exchanging culture, goods, ideas, money and  Downtown Design is giving Dubai a very good opportunity to put itself firmly under the design umbrella as well.”

The business of design is always central to the fair and an extensive programme of networking meetings were arranged for trade professionals and exhibitors that were complemented by a series of talks from leaders of local industries. One of the most important included a presentation by Philippe Zuber, COO of Emaar Hospitality Group, who gave a fascinating talk on the importance of design in developing new concepts for the foodie generation and what to expect the hospitality industry to look like in the future. 

To illustrate the potential for the design industry in Dubai and the region, the fair held a panel discussion on a comprehensive study undertaken by Deloitte & Touche that forecasts an annual growth of 7% for the design industry over the next five years and gave a platform to the Fondazione Altagamma, that discussed their influential Bain & Company’s Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study. 

Stefania Lazzaroni Secretary-General, Altagamma Foundation said, “In a market that is growing and looking forward to 2020,we believe design can really play a major role – we believe [Downtown Design] can be a platform for new brands, new talent and for Italian design which makes up 80% of the luxury market.”

Exhibitors confirmed an increase in new business opportunities generated at the fair, resulting in over 60% of exhibitors booking their stand for next year. Giancarlo Valerio, Director of Sales at De Vecchi, returning for the second year said, “We doubled the number of new business contacts this year. We believe that Downtown Design provides an important hub for global design brands such as ours to connect with the region’s trade professionals and build successful business partnerships”. Exhibiting for the first time, Vadim Horna Sales Co-Director, Lasvit commented: “We debuted at Downtown Design this year and are very impressed, not only with the turnout of key decision makers from the industry, but also of high net worth consumers who have visited our stand.”
 

Innovation was at the forefront of Downtown Design and one of the highlights of the fair were three projects from the world’s most influential postgraduate design college, the Royal College of Art, London: Stay Plastic, a 3D printing mechanism using recycled plastic to build homes; Silk Leaf, an artificial leaf emulating photosynthesis; and Gravity Sketch, a tool for creatives to sketch their ideas using augmented reality.

Julien Melchiorri, the inventor behind the artificial leaf said, “Clearly there is a huge appetite in Dubai for innovation and the interest and investments in sustainability in Dubai and the region are very exciting for anyone in my field. Downtown Design has been a remarkable experience to showcase my project and during the fair the level of interest in my project from Dubai based potential investors was way beyond what I experienced elsewhere.” 

Benedict Floyd, CEO of the Art Dubai Group said: “Innovation is now playing a prominent role in all our initiatives and we were delighted to form partnerships with leading global entities such as the Royal College of Art that can help bring their expertise to Dubai. By showcasing some of the world’s most exciting new projects, we hope to inspire our audience and we will soon be announcing new initiatives that will help support the region’s creative entrepreneurs.”

Downtown Design will return for a third edition in 2015. In the meantime, a roundup of the highlights is available online. For more information, please visit www.downtowndesign.com