The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) has announced three winners for iForDesign, an international competition supported by Dubai Design District and in5 Design that attracted more than 250 people to create a chair inspired by the culture, future or sustainability.
Raya El Houwayek , Elias Bshara and Tallaat Haddad were announced as winners in the Design for Culture, Design for Sustainability and Design for the Future categories, respectively. In addition to holding the top prize, each winner received a cash prize, access to the in5 Design prototyping labs, and the opportunity to exhibit their proposals at DIDI’s FLUSION exhibition during Dubai Design Week which runs from 9-14 November.
The winning designs included a chair inspired by the vivid colours of Arabic art and culture, a playful office stool designed for a sustainable work-life balance, and a chaise lounge created for the first colonisers of Mars described as the “perfect meeting between technology and creativity”.
Each category also honoured top submissions from the runners-up. Yara Salma, Krisha Vaidhya, and Aswathy Vinod were recognised for their thoughtful proposals that included designing chairs made with recycled plastic waste, a baby cradle for life on Mars and a modular chair inspired by the dallah, an Arabic coffee pot.
DIDI Dean Hani Asfour, DIDI Associate Professor Dr Carlos Montana, in5 Director Saeed Alnofeli, Emirati product designer Aljoud Lootah, and architect Fadi Sarieddine made up the judging panel. They assessed the submissions for their innovation, aesthetics and meaning, emotional value, functionality and ergonomics, and feasibility.
Commenting on the winners, Hani Asfour, Dean of DIDI said: “It is exciting for DIDI to see such an incredible, vast and creative assortment of solutions for the first year of our new competition. It demonstrates the region’s enthusiasm for design and highlights the depth of creative talent which is critical because design matters more than ever. It holds the key to innovation as it humanises technology. Our job at DIDI is to promote design thinking, critical problem solving and creativity – skills that are not only critical for the future world of work but ones that our winners have epitomised.”
Dr Carlos Montana, DIDI Associate Professor added: “It is amazing to not only see how many people participated in this competition but to witness the diversity of design solutions, especially as we attracted everyone from professional designers to seven-year-olds. This contest was difficult to judge but we’re happy with the overall results, and we hope that in the future we can open it up to international participants.”
Saeed Alnofeli, in5 Director said: “I look forward to seeing the winners build their projects in our labs at in5. As key enablers of innovation, we are pleased to support creative minds and bring their solutions from concept to prototype to market. The submissions we’ve seen have confirmed that the region has a bright future in design and innovation, and different everyone in the creative ecosystem should be excited about the talent coming through the ranks.”
Aljoud Lootah, Founder of Aljoud Lootah Design, added: “We noticed a lot of interest in the world of product design with this contest, and this development is very exciting for the region.”
Fadi Sarieddine, owner of the eponymous Fadi Sarieddine Design Studio, noted: “The iForDesign contest reminded me of a question I was asked a while ago: can we create yet another chair, and do we need yet another chair? This competition proved the answer to be ‘yes’. There is always room for innovation in design. A session like this makes us want to think more about the things we use in our day-to-day lives, so this was an enriching experience.”
iForDesign had received more than 250 submissions following an open call announcement in September. More than 60 entries were shortlisted. A final winner and runner-up were selected from each category. In addition to raising awareness about the region’s talented creative industries, the competition sought to raise the bar for industrial product design.