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Why Dubai is a 'playground for design'

Dubai is establishing itself as a regional design hub. The 2018 edition of Dubai Design Week brought together 130 companies from 30 countries, combining headline names and future stars.

Posted: Nov 24, 2018 6:46 PM
Updated: Nov 24, 2018 6:57 PM

The Ig Nobel Prize -- an alternative, unofficial Nobel for improbable scientific research -- hands out awards for "achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think." Sometimes the esoteric world of design can feel the same way. The usefulness of design can be immediately apparent: a pen that can detect cancer mid-surgery, for example. But a musical instrument engineered for zero gravity? Perhaps less so. Nonetheless, both are driven by the desire to improve lives.

The pen, musical instrument and more could be found at the Global Grad Show, part of the fourth Dubai Design Week, which ran from November 13-17. The design week has rapidly become a regional networking opportunity with large commercial value, but that hasn't stopped grassroots innovation from pushing through.

The graduate show, curated by author and designer Brendan McGetrick, brought together 150 student projects from 100 universities including MIT, Harvard and the Royal College of Art, and countries as diverse as Jordan, Chile and Pakistan.

Schools, McGetrick told CNN, are "where one finds design in (its) purest and most potentially valuable form."

"Free from the commercial pressures of professional life, the next generation of designers is channeling their craft to improve the world," he added. "In the process, they provide a key to better understanding our environment and its enormous diversity of problems and opportunities."

McGetrick argues the current generation of political leaders lacks the skills or knowledge to tackle our most pressing challenges. Young designers, on the other hand, just might.

"The next generations do not have the luxury to hope that these issues will be solved," he said. "Lacking political and economic power, their response is to anticipate the worst and see how they might channel their talents and training to invent tools that we will need before we urgently need them."

And so, to this year's winner of the Global Grad Show's Progress Prize 2018: Mirjam de Bruijn of the Design Academy Eindhoven for "Twenty," a packaging system for dehydrated household products.

Figuring that most cleaning products were composed of "at least 80 percent water," she stripped it from the equation. Paired with reusable bottles, De Bruijn's solution reduces waste while in theory cutting shipping emissions by reducing product weight and volume.

Twenty has won multiple awards in the Netherlands and "every prize raises the hope that the market is ready for these kinds of sustainable products," said De Bruijn in an email to CNN.

"Exhibiting in Dubai offered us feedback from a completely different culture and gave insights in how design might need to be changed for different cultures," she added.

De Bruijn has enlisted social enterprise specialist Ilse Kwaaitaal to help develop the product range. They hope to finish further research within a year and launch products soon afterward. Whether De Bruijn will do this under the Twenty label or work with an existing brand is still to be decided.

So is this award-winning designer optimistic about the design community's ability to tackle society's biggest problems?

"I am sure we can," she said. "But I think we should stop thinking that we can do it on our own. I think designers, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs should start working together.

"As a designer, I see too many great solutions that are not being used because their design is bad, and I am sure that scientists or technologists (think) the same with some designs that look better than they actually work."

To see more of our favorite innovations from the Global Grad Show, and discover more about Dubai Design Week 2018, scroll through the gallery and watch the video above.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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