A lot has been said about the just passed DXBDW2018 aka the Dubai Design week, with all its highlights, events and installation at d3 and around. There was a lot of movement and people coming from everywhere, a good chance to meet new designers and talents, discover the latest trends and get inspired.
It was also a good opportunity to discover the area, a place to hang not only during those busy days, but anytime. This creative urban neighbourhood, designed by Foster+Partners, was planned to be dedicated to the design community; it therefore houses design studios and retail offices, fashion galleries and hip cafes popping up left and right. To start the perfect morning at the district, grab a delicious croissant at the Lighthouse while browsing high-end design knick-knacks, then head to the local boutique House of Adore for a taste of local Emirati couture, and stop by FBMI to catch the inspiring story of the carpet-weaving initiative giving empowerment to Afghan women. Try the amazing Tokyo style-neapolitan pizza at cool Akiba Dori, and finally have a flash of super quality Italian well-known furniture brands at Finasi showroom. There is plenty to enjoy for all!
So I thought I’d share some must-do places to check out in d3 with you, hence read below to discover our picks of places to visit, shop, and get involved!
FAVOURITE SANDY SPOTS
With a big corner window on the mezzanine level of building #5, this is the place to head to if you are looking for Italian classic brands and high-end original furniture pieces, like a Gio Ponti edition for Molteni&Co, why not a giant Gufram coloured plastic cactus or a gorgeous Dada custom made kitchen.
The well established family interiors business was set up in the ’70s in Italy, and is lead today by talented twins Ahmed and Hisham Sultan, creating modern designs across the various divisions of corporate operations. They deliver high-quality interior projects between Europe, Middle East and Africa, and have settled in the Dubai Design District in 2016, with the intention of bringing the italian quality and style to the UAE, through the best brands and products.
Having been one of the first movers in D3, they have seen the district being filled and grow in the last two years, becoming an area of innovation within the art and design sectors; they consider it the perfect hub for them and all the people from the design industry, trusting it will become a core for furniture retail as well.
As an italian myself, I need to walk around some real good furniture every once in a while… here you’ll be surrounded by iconic design pieces, stunning wardrobes systems, and the best kitchens available on the market! As Hisham says, the italian quality and design is highly appreciated in Dubai, but understanding the craftmanship and the details matters, it has of course a cost impact, but look, the power of good design is here!
MEZZANINE LEVEL, BUILDING #5
One of my favourite places in the city, the Lighthouse is about two things: design and food. This beautiful concept store has a carefully curated selection of homewares, with a just arrived brand new picks of Nada Debs accessories (see the glamorous Geometrik trays, introduced by Nada herself during one evening’s conversation over this last Design week) and super cool kids books and crafts; objects and notebooks by international and regional designers including glassware, serveware, travel and lifestyle accessories, as well as artsy colouring books and trendy stationery. Everytime I go I would buy everything! The place is smart and elegant, nicely styled with gorgeous Gubi Beetle velvet chairs, a casual vibe… and great croissants !
Head this way if you are looking for a cool place where to seat and have a good coffee or a freshly squeezed juice while doing some casual shopping, surrounded by stylish details.
GROUND FLOOR, BUILDING #6
FATIMA BIN MOHAMED BON ZAYED INITIATIVE
If you haven’t heard about it yet, this is a carpet-weaving project inititated by Sheikha Fatima bint Mohammed (Sheik’s Mohammed daughter) that successfully provides almost 4,000 Afghans (70% women) with a source of income and access to health care. As a condition of their employment, employees must commit to sending their children – boys and girls – to school. The initiative have been launched in 2010, with also the aim of saving the hand-weaving tradition as the heart of Afghanistan’s intangible heritage, a craft passed down for generations, century after century. Women in particular are empowered by using the weaving and spinning skills they already possess, supported further with vocational training.
The carpets are designed by local university students who are supervised by Afghanistan’s most famous carpet designer. Designs are both contemporary and dated using antique motifs from carpets that are centuries old, and the items can be bought at the showroom or made to order.
Go check out the stunning designs and handmade work, the showroom is a beautiful space and the pieces are art!
SHOWROOM 1, GROUND FLOOR, BUILDING #2
This women’s multi-brand boutique have clothes and accessories from a host of local and international designers, focusing on the needs for ladies in UAE.
The windows are always appealing, with a range of cool accessories, bags and sunglasses; once you step inside you enter a world of glamorous Jalabiya and Abayas, the Arabic traditional wear, mixed with luxury evening gown and some very accessible jewellery and small homeware.
Have a glance of this very local shop for a taste of Emirati couture!
HOUSE OF ADORE
GROUND FLOOR, BUILDING #5
VI (FOUR) GALLERY
I stepped inside this gallery when I saw from outside the beautiful folded books sculptures from Crizu, a young italian designer from Genoa, and it was quite a surprise seeing them here in Dubai, as I bought one while I was living in Paris after seeing it at a friend’s house, and randomly i just found out that also my italian neighbour here has one! Check them out, I think they look amazing and it makes a cool gift as well. I found pretty funny the collection of the old paper prints, with various characters; if you’d like to go back home with a little something quite original, make sure to come see these things!
VI (FOUR) GALLERY
GROUND FLOOR, BUILDING #7
Inspired by the technicolour streets of Akihabara, Tokyo, Akiba Dori is a bright, neon-lit food concept place located in building #8 towards the north of D3. Its modish and colourful interior matches the retro-but-modern vibe of the district itself; a street-style layout with an attractive-looking bar to the left, a bakery section to the right, DJ decks encased in neon to the rear, and in the background a giant Japanese wood oven for amazing pizzas. Now, let’s get to the point – the pizzas. Akiba Dori uses a much lighter dough than Neapolitan, and it is cooked at a much higher temperature (500oC) for a shorter time (60 seconds), but I can promise you being Italian myself, that’s a really really good pizza!!
With a menu that varies from japanese-style salads, sushi, gyoza, pizza and dessert, this place has an answer for any meal craving. If you are gonna loose me in d3, you’ll find me here! 🙂