Nadine Kanso and Khulood Thani on Dubai’s First-Ever Design Week

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Nadine Kanso Dubai Design Week
Photo: Courtesy of Nadine Kanso

From modern hotel-inspired furniture to jewelry from the city’s beloved S*uce boutique, Downtown Design is a haven of inspiration for all design enthusiasts who have an eye for detail and a heart for art. The fair, which kicks off on October 26, is hosted in the newly opened Dubai Design District, where international heavyweights will rub shoulders with rising local stars in the world of design.

This year marks the first-ever Dubai Design Week: a fair collaboration between Art Dubai and The Dubai Design and Fashion Council, which aims to showcase fresh talent from around the world and features everything from ceramic stoneware made by Tunisian artisans to a talk by the sisters behind Saudi Design Week. Carrying with it the promise of colorful Instagram posts and sartorial inspiration from the region’s hottest talent, Dubai Design Week is set to be a flurry of glasses clinking at opening-night parties and interiors ideas to bring flair to your lifestyle.

Not sure where to start? Savoir Flair asks two of Dubai’s favorite creatives about how to make the most of Dubai Design Week. Lebanese designer Nadine Kanso, whose jewelry line Bil Arabi has dazzled at Christie’s auctions and been worn by many a fashion lover, has collaborated with Khulood Thani, the Emirati fashion designer behind avant-garde label Bint Thani, on an iconic installation for the fair that embraces art, design, and a bit of edge. The two artistic powerhouses share what not to miss so you can keep up with the whirlwind of color and art that is Dubai Design Week.

Khulood Thani Dubai Design Week
Photo: Courtesy of Khulood Thani

How do you power-network at Dubai Design Week?
Nadine: It’s the first edition, so we’re expecting a lot of hype and people coming from all over the world. Being around the fair will be a great way to network. Visiting different stands, learning about projects around the city, and interacting with other designers and companies is the key element along with attending talks. Sharing the experience from other fairs such as Design Week Milan helps as well.

Khulood: Networking is a very important element of our work; we need to be out and about during the week to know all about what’s happening overall in the design scene in Dubai.

What’s the Dubai Design Week fashion uniform?
Nadine: Designers are usually the coolest! They have an edge that you can spot miles away. So just be yourself and spice it up a notch!

Khulood: Three words come to mind: stylish, smart, and casual.

Heels or no heels when exploring the exhibitions?
Khulood: Depending on where you go, you could be in flats most of the day, but high heels are a must for the opening night or private events happening during Dubai Design Week.

Nadine: I would go with flats. These are long days, and going from one place to another is a killer in high heels!

We are very lucky to be designers from Dubai, because there are a lot of untold stories that we can tell about our beautiful, growing city through design elements.

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? A really busy day?
Nadine: OMG! On a regular day it’s around three cups, so when it’s a busy one that doubles to say the least…

Khulood: I’m a coffee addict, so I would say two to three cups of coffee… on a regular a day!

What do you hope to get out of Dubai Design Week?
Khulood: I hope it will support the growth of the design industry in Dubai by showcasing the local, Dubai-based designers to the international market. To that end, this year we have formed Design Ras AlKhor (DRAK), a collective design initiative founded by four UAE-based designers: Khalid Shafar, Nadine Kanso, Tarik Al Zaharna, and myself. The idea is to draw attention to the potential of Ras AlKhor Industrial Area – one of the oldest in the city – to become one of Dubai’s creative districts.

Nadine: Working on a project such as ours is not only interesting but also inspiring to other designers. I hope we can inspire and can be exposed to opportunities regionally and internationally.

Use three words to describe your installation at Dubai Design Week.
Khulood: Conceptual, design-oriented, and progressive.

Nadine: Strong, fun, and elegant.

Dubai Design Week Nadine Kanso and Khulood Sketch
Photo: Courtesy of Dubai Design Week

What impression do you hope your installation leaves with people?
Nadine: I hope they can see beyond the one facet of a designer and the imagination of a place in a piece of design.

Khulood: We are very lucky to be designers from Dubai, because there are a lot of untold stories that we can tell about our beautiful, growing city through design elements.

What about Dubai inspires your work?
Nadine: The energy and ambition of Dubai are what inspires me.

Khulood: The fact that it’s such a challenging city. It’s dynamic and there is something new happening every day.

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