By Malaika Bync

Top global design brands gathered at the foot of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa last week for the launch of a new fair, Downtown Design.

Sited on a soon-to-be-developed patch of land, flanked by the world’s tallest building, the tent’s location itself brought home the need for contemporary furniture design in a city where tower blocks (despite the impact of the global downturn) still seem to rise from the sand almost overnight.

‘We want to make Dubai a catalyst for design in the UAE and a meeting point for design internationally,’ declared Downtown Design director Cristina Romelli Gervasoni. The fair is the sister event to Art Dubai and design-art showcase Design Days Dubai – the latter of which launched in 2012 and has since seen a flock of new design galleries open in the city.

‘The proportion people are spending on interiors as part of overall construction is very high in the region,’ said Lindsay Miller, managing director of the Dubai Design District (nicknamed D3), an ambitious new development of which the first phase is scheduled to open in 2015. ‘So the potential for the industry is huge.’

To boost the region’s nascent design scene in the meantime, Downtown Design lured in big guns like Vitra, Cappellini, Fritz Hansen, Poltrona Frau and Gaia & Gino, who flaunted their latest collections to local interior designers, architects and furniture distributors. ‘The UAE market is growing fast so it’s very important for us to meet local company directors,’ said Giulio Cappellini. More info