Emerging designers redefine innovation at Dubai Design Week

Updated 13th November 2017
Credit: Courtesy Darja Wendel
Emerging designers redefine innovation at Dubai Design Week
Written by Natalia Rachlin, CNNDubai
Bright ideas and forward-thinking prototypes from some of the design world's most promising young talents will get their moment in the limelight next week, as the third edition of the Global Grad Show kicks off in Dubai, as part of the city's annual design week.
One of the world's largest showcases of student work, the Global Grad Show will display 200 projects pulled from the degree shows of 92 leading design and technology programs from 43 countries.
In addition to being the biggest edition yet, this year's show also includes a larger percentage of female participants compared to previous years, a welcome development in a male-dominated industry and an evolution that Global Grad Show curator Brendan McGetrick believes reflects the future of the field.
"Because you are talking about students and the next generation of design, it's far more diverse -- not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of race and nationality -- than what you would think of as the global design profession, which if you look at the top-level designers in most fields, they are generally male, European or American, and maybe a handful of Japanese," McGetrick says.
"This level of diversity allows you to have a much deeper sense of what young designers are working on in different parts of the world, and how their creativity and ambitions are shaped by the specific material and cultural circumstances that they live in."
Addressing themes of empowerment, connection and sustainability, the projects include both the purely conceptual and the physical, from life-changing innovations for the elderly and the disabled to life-enhancing furniture, lighting and toys.
McGetrick underscores that while the term "innovation" is most widely associated with technological applications, the kind of innovation that the Global Grad Show promotes focuses on the originality of ideas, the sensitivity with which a problem has been identified, and the effectiveness of the response to those problems.
"Innovation to us is actually a basic way of thinking about how to make the world better. It doesn't require anything but a good idea, and the time and effort required to turn that idea into some kind of working prototype," McGetrick says.
Here are 10 projects that offer both a glimpse of the many regions represented, and the diversity of the topics addressed.

Loight by Zahra Ghiasi (Isfahan University of Art, Iran)

Courtesy Zahra Ghiasi
Loight, a new take on the chandelier, is composed of a series of detachable and wirelessly rechargeable lamps. The lamps can be used collectively as a largescale light source, or used individually as a mobile light source -- for example, in the case of a power outage.

Trabecular Tectonics by Roberto Naboni (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)

Courtesy Roberto Naboni
Trabecular Tectonics applies the biological model of bone microstructures to larger, architectural structures.
"Trabeculae allows bones to adapt in time in order to be always resistant and lightweight. This construction logic inspired the design algorithms behind our project," says Roberto Naboni. "This approach is ideal for building lightweight but highly complex architectural shapes. The algorithms we have created allow us to control material allocation precisely, creating beautiful and unique structures while proving a new way for reducing material consumption."

Petit Pli by Ryan Mario Yasin (Royal College of Art, United Kingdom)

Courtesy Ryan Mario Yasin
This line of expandable children's clothing has been in the spotlight since September, when creator Ryan Yasin won the prestigious James Dyson Award for his design. Billed by Yasin as "the most technically advanced children's clothing in the world," Petit Pli looks to eliminate the clothing waste associated with growing children during the first several years of life. Crafted from an ultra-lightweight, waterproof and breathable material developed by Yasin, the clothes stretch and shrink to accommodate a variety of sizes and shapes, to ensure a perfect fit for any child.

Zero Waste by Austėja Platūkytė (Vilnius Academy of Arts, Lithuania)

Courtesy Austėja Platūkytė
Made from an organic, biodegradable algae-based material, the Zero Waste line of experimental packaging looks to offer an alternative to ubiquitous, non-biodegradable plastics. The packaging features reusable plywood lids that are attached to the containers with natural rubber bands, and can either be recycled or composted after use.

Kanga by Darja Wendel (Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden)

Courtesy Darja Wendel
Developed as part of Darja Wendel's master's thesis -- in collaboration with Laerdal Global Health, a non-profit that helps to save the lives of mothers and newborns in low-resource locations -- Kanga is a mobile resuscitation kit for newborns. Unsettled by the statistic that one million babies die each year due to lack of oxygen at birth, Wendel aimed to streamline the process of resuscitating infants born with breathing difficulties. Composed of a supportive cradle and a transparent blanket, the Kanga device enables resuscitation to take place almost anywhere, while keeping mother and child close and assisting caregivers through the process by giving feedback through a light indication system.

Ivy & Vitis by Marion Aeby (ECAL, Switzerland)

Courtesy Marion Aeby
Marion Aeby, a product and industrial design graduate, designed this duo of small lamps that can be gently wrapped around plants to offer a unique, detailed look at the beauty of plant life, while also providing illumination. While Ivy uses OLED technology to provide a softer light, Vitis is designed to create a more focused, directional light.

Guma by Alejandro Curi Chávez (CENTRO, Mexico)

Courtesy Alejandro Curi Chávez
Guma is a project that looks to find new applications for tire waste, from indoor and outdoor furniture to matting for playgrounds.
"Guma has been through an interesting development with processes and materials, in order to generate high quality applications that have allowed us to break the traditional stereotypes of recycled rubber products," says creator Alejandro Curi Chávez. "At the moment, we've reached the ability process between 30-70 tons of recycled material on a bimonthly basis."

Shelter for Laborers by Alia Mazrooei (Zayed University, United Arab Emirates)

Courtesy Alia Mazrooei
Designed to accommodate workers in the industrial areas of Abu Dhabi, the Shelter for Laborers is part bench, part pavilion; a place for rest, shwade, and social interaction. After spending time observing the habits of laborers, Alia Mazrooei developed the ply-board structure to offer workers an alternative to siting on the streets or sidewalks during breaks.

Argonaute by Edouard Samson (Strate École de Design, France)

Courtesy Edouard Samson
Edouard Samson's self-described "lifeboat for buildings" was conceived as part of his thesis project, which looked at vertical cities and the relationship between urban planning and transportation. The airborne rescue vehicle is composed of a flying carrier with a telescopic arm and an evacuation capsule that is deposited on the exterior of a building, before being removed to safety.

Newater Delhi by Marie Etlin (L'École de design Nantes Atlantique, France)

Courtesy Marie Etlin
Developed by Etlin while she was studying abroad as part of the transcultural design master's degree program in India, Newater Delhi recycles waste water from buildings using micro-algae filters, providing access to clean drinking water while producing energy from organic matter.
The Global Grad Show takes place during Dubai Design Week from November 14-18.