Although Dubai and Tokyo share the same continent, it is rare that they inhabit the same sentence, especially when it comes to design. The clean cuts and sterile lines of Japanese architecture heavily contrast with the more ornate renderings of the UAE’s Arab tradition. But this year, for the first time, Dubai will be making a contribution to Tokyo Designers Week – an annual fixture in the creative calendar where the entire city is taken over by exhibitions and fringe events.
In March, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, visited Japan to show his support for the victims of the devastating earthquake and ensuing nuclear disaster. To continue these efforts of solidarity, Dubai Futures, the collaborative effort between Brownbook magazine and Falcon & Associates, decided to host an exhibition at the design week. Following the success of their appearance in Shubbak, London’s festival of contemporary Arab art this summer, Dubai Futures set it sights on to Tokyo to forge new and productive creative ties between the two nations.
This exhibition is the first time a Middle Eastern country has ever made an appearance at Japan’s annual event and it aims to give a platform to upcoming designers, authors and leaders in the creative industries. As part of the debut show, Dubai Futures will feature a showcase of furniture pieces by Khalid Shafar in the main exhibition space. Over the course of the week-long event, this show will also be bolstered by two related events.
The first, a discussion about bridging creative culture, will be held at nearby Selan – an ultra modern restaurant located close to Meiji-Jingu-Gaien Park. Choosing this venue with its large open-air terrace in the front will create an open atmosphere for creative thinking and cross-cultural conversations. Later on in the week, Brownbook will launch their city guide to Dubai translated into Japanese – as well as the second installment of The Gold Ring. This manga-inspired comic series following the adventures of an Emirati boy called Sultan, who enters a falconry competition called the Gold Ring represents true merger between the two cultures. It was created by Qais Sedki, an Emirati author and illustrated by Akira Himekawa – a duo of female Japanese comic book artists. The event will be held on the third floor at Tsutaya book and record store in the suburban centre of Roppongi Hills.
Dubai Futures: Tokyo is part of Brownbook’s constant efforts to widen the impact of creative people from the Middle East and at the same time a show of appreciation, solidarity and support for the cultural innovators emerging from Japan.