September 29, 2022

Design has a new home


Duncan Denley highlights how his team’s move to the new D3 creative hub in Dubai is inspiring and influencing desert INK’s work

The desert INK team moved across to its new offices at D3 this month, and we are already starting to realise the benefits of being located in this burgeoning new creative community. There has been a lot of buzz around TECOM Group’s latest business park of course, but what’s it all about?

The principle behind D3 (Dubai Design District, D+D+D = D3, get it?) is to offer first-class lodgings to house the region’s design agencies and creative industries. The first phase of D3 consists of 10 office buildings linked by a series of pedestrianised streets and courts furnished with occasional street furniture and clusters of trees.

It’s not just about office space of course, and the real value of this development is not physical. D3 is set on promoting opportunities for the cross-fertilisation of ideas, interdisciplinary collaborations, and hosting design events for the region. We’ve already seen a number of such events take place at D3, and it all seems to be working brilliantly. Dubai Design Week was hosted by D3 in October with great success, and already two other events have taken place at the campus since.

So, you may ask, how exactly does all this benefit the landscape community? Again, the benefit is not a physical one; D3’s streets and courts are somewhat underwhelming for a design hub, with unbroken grey granite and concrete permeating every corner. What these landscape spaces do cater for brilliantly, however, is flexibility. The open plazas are populated by new installations almost on a weekly basis. A car launch one week, a sculpture installation the next. This constant exposure to new ideas, new thinking and new materials is a serious hit with desert INK, and these fresh sources of inspiration are already influencing our design work.

The community is building and networks are being forged. We’ve already had some ‘drop ins’ visit our office. Future collaborations are being planned and contacts shared, while clients are being introduced to other creative professionals. Several of our clients will join us at D3 in the coming months, leading to closer collaboration.

All this cross-fertilisation prevents isolation in the landscape industry, enabling us to form part of a much wider creative community making waves around the world. A great example of this was the blank canvas presented by our new office space. Rather than hiring an interior designer, we seized the opportunity to test our belief that a talented designer can turn their hand to any form of design. With a limited budget but unlimited creativity, our team set about the interior design of our new space as we would a landscape. We worked with materials familiar to us, such as wood, plants, concrete and light. The end result is as distinctive as our landscapes and perfectly fits with the D3 vibe of experimentation and boundary-breaking.

So here’s to D3 and the amazing opportunities it presents. Something tells me we will be hearing a lot more about this place in the coming years.

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