Now in its 4th year, Design Days Dubai has rapidly enticed design orientated galleries from around the globe to exhibit their wares to a new and highly motivated market. While names such as Lebanon's Carwan Gallery have been part of the event since the beginning, this year will see an influx of European galleries such as Paris' Gallerie Silbereis and David Gill Galleries and Gallery Fumi from London. There is no doubt that the event now represents an important date in the world art & design calendar with 44 galleries from 20 countries attending. For this post I have attempted to sift through the mountain of amazing work on show to bring a small snapshot of some of the more interesting works that blur the boundaries between art and design.
Aljoud Lootah is a well known fashion designer in Dubai whose first piece of furniture, the 'Unfolding Unity' stool, was well received at Design Days Dubai in 2013 and sparked a new creative interest. Lootah has been working towards her first full collection of furniture pieces ever since but it took some time before the concept of the Oru Collection became fully developed.
'Oru' originates from the Japanese word to fold and the idea behind the collection is to show how a flat two dimensional sheet can be folded to create a pleasing three dimensional form.
Commissioned specifically for Design Days Dubai by Beirut's Carwan Gallery, the 'Posa' project by Italian designer Massimo Faion is made up of four exotic falcon perches. Revisiting traditional falconry objects but giving them a Middle Eastern context, the 'Posa' pieces combine marble with steamed beech, natural rope and precious metals such as rose gold and silver. All the metallic elements are meticulously plated in the De Vecchi laboratories. The designs also feature marbles in various colours Guatemala (green) Nero Marquina (black) and Carrara (white). They are available as a limited edition of 8 + 2 artist proofs. Carwan Gallery promise a live falcon performance which should be quite exciting within the confines of a exhibition space!
Karen Chekerdjian has made a move away from her well received 'Living Space III' that used timber and woven cane back to her former fascination with cast and fabricated metals. Carwan Gallery is showing her new Object 04 (D-E-F) stools in mirror polished stainless steel. A limited edition of 10, the stools form a reflective mound when grouped together.
After the success of Italian architect Vincenzo de Cotiis' work at DesignMiami, Carwan Gallery is showcasing his collection called 'Déchainements' during Design Days Dubai along with work by a number of their other artists such as Nada Debs, Carlo Massoud, 200grs and Karen Chekerdjian. "Déchainements" is a collection consisting of dining and coffee tables, a rug, screen, mirror, console table and glass chandelier. Inspired by the architect's visit to Beirut, the piece's have a raw, exposed surface palette that references the visible scars left on the buildings of Beirut by years of war.
Gallery ALL is a new design gallery based in Bejing with a second branch in Los Angeles. The gallery is showing for the first time in Dubai and presenting the work of Chinese designer Zhoujie Zhang along side pieces by Naihan Li (who has previously also presented work at Design Days Dubai with Australia's Broached Commissions) and American architects Aranda Lasch whose art pieces are predominantly created in self skinning polyurethane foam. Li's 'Folding' table in rosewood and acrylic, like many of her previous works feature traditional Chinese craftsmanship in timber and metalwork while creating new forms.
It is one of Hadid's designs that is the centrepiece of David Gills presentation at Design Days Dubai - the 'Liquid Glacial' table. What appears to be miraculously captured frozen water is in fact made from crystal clear acrylic.
Well known for their highly individual production furniture and rug pieces for brands such as Edra and Nodus, in the limited edition arena the Campana Brothers can really go to town. The intricacy that is achievable from bronze casting is quite incredible as shown by their 'Numa' sofa that is made up of small figures and objects such as cupids, keys, reptiles and chicken feet, clinging together as if drawn to a giant magnet. As if the incredible detail weren't enough the entire sofa is gilded and then upholstered in luxuriant rabbit fur (unless you'd prefer the eco-fur option) to achieve what the Campana Brothers refer to as "Brazilian Baroque".
Showing no-less detail but exuding a far darker, even mystical presence, is the recent work of long time David Gill artist Mattia Bonetti. His enormous 'Atlantis' table is part of a series of tables that were inspired by volcanic rock called Tufo that features a mottled surface of tiny pinholes and fissures. The tables were hand sculpted in clay before casting in bronze. 'Atlantis' features an unusual and remarkably complex piece of Brazilian marble as its table top in earthy mushroom and forest floor tones.
Paris based Galerie Silbereis specialises in French and international ceramics and will be showing their roster of artists in Dubai for the first time. One of those being exhibited is French-Lebanese designer Sandra Zeenni, whose vivid turquoise vessels offer a striking tableau whether displayed in a small group or as an extended still-life setting.
Galerie Silbereis will also be showing the work of Maarten Stuer who builds incredibly large but delicate pieces in porcelain and stoneware. Born in Yokohama, Japan, Stuer graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he specialized in graphic arts, drawing and lithography, but a move to Barcelona in the 90's led to him to learning how to work with clay. Now based in France, Stuer creates large scale sculptural works that defy what is normally deemed possible to construct in clay.
The Carpenters Workshop Gallery started out in Chelsea in 2006 but rapidly launched a second space in Mayfair two years later and a third gallery in Paris in 2011. The gallery represents some of the biggest names in limited edition design such as Wendell Castle, Sebastian Brajkovic, Maarten Baas and Andrea Branzi. At Design Days Dubai there will also be the work of Vincent Dubourg who transforms metal into furniture that captures seemingly catastrophic collisions.
Another interesting name that will feature is Robert Stadler, whose recent works in marble involve simple graphic shapes that make up complex 3-D forms.
It is quite astounding how many high end art/design galleries seem to be based in Beirut. Art Factum is a relatively new one founded in 2011 by Joy Mardini. Supporting designers and artists from Lebanon and the Middle East along with a few international names, Art Factum will be showcasing the work of Beirut duo David/Nicolas (David Raffoul and Nicholas Mousallem), the most recent addition to the gallery's portfolio of artists. Work by Marc Baroud, Carlo Massoud, Karim Chaya and Marc Dibeh will also be on display.
For the full lowdown on all the events and galleries at this year's show, go to the Design Days Dubai website.