Sunday, 5 April 2015

ART in Selfie-land

Dubai Design District (d3) is the new up and coming neighbourhood where local designers will hobnob with global brands. This UAE government initiative is a gateway for regional ideas to access the world. In the near future, it is touted to be a conduit for international companies to discover new Middle Eastern talent.

Thats me the B'lu one... in agreement with Einstein at the entrance of the d3 yesterday

It's launch called ‘Meet D3′, the public community event presented a program of fashion, music, art, design and dining experiences during the weekend from the 2 to 4 April, 2015. I was glad to make time to could go and see as this was talked about by every radio channel. In less than a day of its first day social media had lot of hate notes... To me the experience was different and will be remembered for the right reasons too.

Things that impressed me here... in that order:

1. Food... to be specific the Ghaf Kitchen also believed to be UAE's first food truck. "Ghaf means home food back in England. And Ghaf (the tree) has its home in the UAE," says David O' Brian, its director who was excited to speak to his hungry visitors. I had a taste of their grilled halloumi served with romesco sauce and courgette shavings. Most dishes sound English to me... but has at least one familiar ingredient to Middle Easterners... like pan seared 'Sultan Ibrahim' [it is a fish!] with red onion salad.

The halloumi meal was small... just about a mouth full for Dh35... but it tatsted fresh and good... at the Ghaf Kitchen especially because Brian served it with a soulful smile. This dish used Indian-kitchen-staple fennel seeds as a garnish... adding an twist to the bites that had a seed or two... must try this on salads made in the blukitchen too.

I also tried the vegan chocolate brownie at 'Spill the beans' van/cafe. It was good and mushy. Everywhere else the queue-ups were too long to waste time. It was also bright and windy.

2. Stefan Seigel... The presentation and talk by CEO and founder of Not Just a Label (NJAL), an online designer platform for showcasing designers and emerging talent in the contemporary fashion industry with more than 18,000 designers from 100 different countries. Founded in 2008, NJAL encourages designers into the Slow Fashion movement that support sustainable/eco-friendly... while supporting local communities and craftsmanship. "We promote real art as opposed to mass buying. Imagine the pleasure of opening a handwritten note by the designer and wearing a dress that nobody else has in the whole world. This is the future," says Seigel.

Stefan Seigal of NJAL addressing the Dubai fashion aficionados

Seigel pointed out that the new generation can stand in lines and buy expensive gadgets... like iphone which is there in everybody's hands these days. So new designers shouldn't underestimate the power of new buyers. "They are everywhere. And they will find you," he says.

At Meet d3, NJAL showcased Emirati designer Bint Thani; who collaborates with ‘Inter | Act’ to unveil the first ever 3D printed dress made in Dubai. The collaborative, experimental project is called Urban Corp; merging expertise in design, fashion, and 3D printing technology, inspired by the city of Dubai.

3. Live music.

4. Organised parking facility. Smart officials who seemed to have jumped out of some hollywood action movie lined up in their cool blue crisp uniforms waving and following you while jiving like a rapper to his own music [hopefully that was not just in my head... and actually there was music and actually they were walking with a spring in their step!]

Letdowns at d3:

1. The selfie crowd. Dubaiites get confused if you mention art and community next to each other. They try to dress in their 'that dress I cant wear anywhere else' to this venue. Meet d3 had beach goers and mall hoppers who just took a detour because they badly wanted selfies in a new place... with their kids... and chomp all the while... in the queues... inside restrooms... [all this while their faces are buried in their phones. They just do not make eye contact. It scares them to look anywhere other than cameras :(]. Perhaps it is knowing this reason the organisers had installed fancy selfie machines at emergency points across the venue. There were more selfie booths than public toilets here. [Of course the nature's call can wait but not that cute picture.]

2. Long lines... at glass blowing workshop [the only event i was really really keen to attend in person since my Murano trip in 2009]... Lines where there every where else too. [Wonder why? Is it now in fashion to line up! Really hope not.]

3. There was nothing much for artists. Of course there was some art... here and there. But expensive menu cards and designer cocktails scream business business and more business! [Hello! Damien Hirst you are welcome in Dubai. And everyone else please look good, wear good brands, smell awesome... and create a good background please for his selfie... in future!]

[sorry I don't have many pics from the 'Meet d3'... but here are the few I clicked]

Love the moving shadows on the ground. Brooklyn native and Berlin resident Ebon Heath is literally known for playing with words. This sculpture uses words from Kahlil Gibran's poem 'On Beauty' and is representative of the global dialogue... He has used Arabic and English typography here. [I searched for Gibran's On Beauty... wasted attempt... nothing shows up!]

Lighting brand Lasvit from Czech Republic... gave glass-blowing workshops to visitors - a truly sensorial introduction to the process of transforming raw glass into design lighting. Very friendly artist, who spoke mostly in their language.

Zipper architecture... zip up and you have a mirror cave inside!
Egg-citing evening: the day followed into the dusk... when friends met for dinner and coloured some eggs... to welcome the spring equinox or Jesus Christ... or both!

Egg-cited us!

Happy Easter!

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