Urban Commissions, a design competition set up by Dubai Design District (d3) and Dubai Culture & Arts Authority to engage with the UAE's creative community and promote its diverse production industries, announces SUPERFUTUREDESIGN* as this year's winner.
Urban Commissions was launched in October 2014 to engage design students and professionals residing in the UAE. The brief for the competition's third edition was to design a ‘communal table' with various seating combinations that celebrates the Emirati tradition of gathering for conversation, collaboration and respite. The winning design is to be produced with a grant of AED 50,000 and placed within the urban landscape of d3 in 2017.
SUPERFUTUREDESIGN*, a creative lab founded by four Italian partners in Dubai in 2009, wins with Mu.TABLE. This series of simple, minimalist, modular elements is composed of concrete volumes, and Marine Plywood tabletops mitred at 45 degree angles to lock into a welded steel structure without the use of screws. Tables are alternated with concrete blocks that secure the structure into place. The larger blocks serve as planters for olive trees which create shadows and integrate nature. The smaller blocks can be used as device charging stations if located close to an electrical outlet. As it is a modular system, more tables can be added to create an infinite array of possibilities, and the whole configuration can be easily relocated with the help of a forklift.
“We wanted to respect the budget constrains and use materials that are simple but also flexible and easy to replace in case of damage. We come from Tuscany, which has some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, so we wanted to incorporate greenery in the concrete planters as we know how important it is to have nature around us. The olive tree is also the symbol of peace, so we thought it would be perfect for a table that caters to so many different people and cultures,” said Cecilia Morosi, Design Director of the company.
The Italian partners at SUPERFUTURE*, Andrea Sensoli, Cecilia Morosi, Andrea Rettori and Iacopo Mannelli, studied at the University of Architecture in Florence before founding their practice ASZarchitetti in the city in 1998. They opened their office in Dubai in 2009. Mu.TABLE will unveiled at a VIP ceremony on 13th March, the opening day of Design Days Dubai, before moving to its permanent home in the urban landscape of d3.
Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, COO of Dubai Design District (d3) commented:
Urban Commissions is a dynamic initiative and is key to our vision of ensuring that d3 supports the region's local talent to showcase their work to an international audience. At d3, we are delighted to be partnering with initiatives like this that contributes our vision of creating a home for creativity designed by the community, for the community. We would like to congratulate the SUPERFUTUREDESIGN team for their astounding work, and we are looking forward to welcoming the Mu.TABLE to d3”.
This year, Urban Commissions received 80 high calibre submissions from individuals and collaborative groups from 24 nationalities at varied stages in their design careers. They demonstrated increasing interest in introducing urban design into Dubai's existing public spaces and proved as wide-ranging as Dubai's citizens.
Highly-commended shortlisted submissions included:
- Dhow, a concept inspired by traditional Emirati sailing vessels used for transportation and pearl diving, designed by Alya AlEghfeli & Jawaher AlKhayyal
- Hi Lo Shade, which consists of two tables and a vertical ‘arish' shade woven from local palm, designed by Sarah Faruki
The jury members consisted of a selection of design-industry professionals and educators from the following leading institutions: Dubai Culture, d3, Zayed University and Sole DXB.
In support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's vision to transform Dubai into an innovation-driven economy, the Urban Commissions initiative each year will focus on stimulating creativity in the UAE, inspiring the development of new technologies, creating smart and sustainable infrastructure, and driving entrepreneurship and small business growth within the arts and design sector. The 2017/2018 edition of Urban Commissions will open for submissions in late 2017.