News broke recently that the Chalhoub Group is pursuing a joint venture with luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch. Chalhoub’s recognition of e-commerce’s possibilities is symbolic of Dubai’s ambition as a figurehead in luxury retail and craftsmanship. When Patrick Chalhoub, co-CEO of the distributor, first announced that his company’s headquarters would relocate to Dubai Design District – known as d3 – he expressed a desire to move into a creative environment that helps drive the Emirates’ ‘ambition to be a global centre for design and innovation.’ The Design District is indeed an example of the Middle-East’s grasp on modernisation; d3 now hosts a combination of powerhouse businesses such as Chalhoub and Adidas, but also niche houses such as that of fashion designer Michael Cinco and design boutique FRAME. The Design District has yet to be completed despite its rapid ascent to popularity; Phase 2 of the area, which consists of an increase in businesses is due to be officially opened in 2019 after an investment of $272 million.
Completed in 2015, d3 has since become a hub of contemporary culture thanks to the gathering of forward-thinking businesses set on flourishing in the energetic working space. In the past year, it has made significant strides in promoting Dubai as a supporter of craftsmanship and the arts. Forged around an ethos of community, d3 has brought together multi-disciplined businesspeople and artisans that, because of the close proximity in which they work, inspire each other. Collaborations among them are not uncommon, exemplified by the three-way partnership between AR Gallery, the Swarovski Creative Centre and Preciosa to mount public installations.
In 2017, Chalhoub and d3 laid the foundations of Dubai Fashion Week and as of this year, the Design District will be home to the Dubai Institute of Design so as to nurture talent that will sustain Dubai in the future. Dubai Fashion week will be an exclusive affair that differs to Arab Fashion Week- which is overseen by the regional Arab Fashion Council. These plans are proof of Dubai-based businesses that looks beyond their status as merely symbolic of the city’s success. They recognise that in order for Dubai to remain a leading figure in luxury, it must prioritise and grow its own talent.
If you plan on visiting this budding centre of creativity, here are three things that we recommend you visit:
Drawing upon UAE culture, this exhibition space offers works that are available to buy and rent, as well as workshops for ambitious artists and, of course, exhibitions featuring selected international talents.
This concept store opened in 2017 and has since earned the reputation for being one of d3’most in-demand community spaces. Featuring design and food, this café-boutique caters to niche and young tastes.
Christopher Guy Harrison is an award-winning designer whose lifestyle brand accommodates luxury-inclined personalities. His d3 showroom offers visitors a glimpse into his style that is as classic as it is contemporary.