Leading architecture and design profesionals, institutional leaders as well as local industry leaders and luminaries from across disciplines took part in the Saudi Design Festival (SDF 2023), held recently in capital Riyadh.
Initiated and organised by &bouqu, a creative and cultural consultancy firm of Oasis Company in partnership with Quby, the SDF returned to Riyadh last month for its second edition, marking the expansion of the festival’s offerings, unveiling a brand-new vision and format that celebrates design in its multiple forms, locally and globally.
The gala event, which was aimed at positioning Riyadh as a design capital, introduced a citywide format, with three major Design Destinations - Oud Square, Gallery Design, and The Boulevard Riyadh; alongside activations in over 30 locations across the Saudi capital.
The SDF Launch Weekend and Design Forum featured talks by industry leaders, masterclasses, workshops and engagement by local institutions and universities over the three-day event.
SDF 2023 also featured the online pilot program of the festival, expanding the educational and professional enrichment reach beyond its locale.
According to the organisers, SDF 2023 was simply the starting point for the festival’s vision to grow in breadth and depth, serving as the launchpad for the festival’s two-year cycle programming.
Basma Bouzo, co-founder/CEO of &bouqu and Saudi Design Festival, said: "Since our early days as Saudi Design Week, and now as Saudi Design Festival, our aim has always been to provide a platform to showcase designers and local talent, to amplify their voices, and elevate the design conversations in the region. And as the sector evolves, so does the festival."
"We (&bouqu) always think in future terms, ‘what should the festival be now so it can set the stage for tomorrow?’ A big part is enabling partners to contribute to the narrative and setting the tracks for the design ecosystem to scale sustainably," observed Bouzo.
"Our mission this year is to show how design permeates through the very fabric of society and to develop meaningful opportunities that expand the role of SDF from an annual event to a catalyst and accelerator of growth," she stated.
SDF introduced a robust program that extends well beyond the second edition, aiming to amplify the efforts of the Saudi design community both locally and internationally. Its key highlights were:
*VIP Opening Night
Kicking off the opening weekend, institutional leaders, dignitaries, and community champions convened for an evening of thoughtful discussions and inspiring talks from Dr Sumayah Al Solaiman, the CEO of Architecture and Design Commission, Princess Noura Bint Faisal, the CEO of Adhlal for Design, Norah Alyusuf, the Chief Business Planning Officer for Vision 2030 Quality of Life Program and Khaled Tash, the Chief Marketing Officer for Saudia Airlines.
Held this year at the Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City, the event was a nexus for creative dialogue, mentorship sessions, and educational programming.
Bringing together local industry leaders and luminaries from across disciplines during the opening weekend, the Forum serves as a launching point for the various activities to come.
This year’s edition introduces three leading Design Destinations across the city. Oud Square explores the future of work and play through interactive design interventions. The Boulevard Riyadh played host to The Pulse. This design installation blurred the line between physical and digital interactions.
It aimed to get the consensus of the general public and creatives on certain topics in the realm of design. Gallery Design held two days of industry-specific talks from thought leaders, workshops, and a design experience light show.
To actively empower the community to be part of the conversation, SDF launched a design participants programme, giving SMEs, studios, cafes, and commercial establishments an opportunity to be part of the calendar and activate the city.
This new format will allow the community to grow with the festival in the coming years, being ambassadors of design in their own way.
*Brand Your Neighborhood (BYN)
In its pilot edition, Brand Your Neighborhood showcased design interventions developed by students from Jeddah, Riyadh, and Sharqiyah. The initiative is meant to allow participants to reconnect with their neighbourhoods and propose solutions for the public realm.
The SDF's second edition also hosted online workshops and mentorship sessions to make design learning more accessible to a broader audience.
Presented by the Architecture and Design Commission of the Ministry of Culture, the SDF 2023 aligns with the commission’s aim to develop the Architecture and Design sector in Saudi Arabia and support practitioners in achieving their goals, said Dr Al Solaiman.
"Saudi Design Festival exists to provide a platform for emerging and established designers, SMEs, and industry players to forge collaborations, find growth opportunities, and learn from each other," stated the top official.
"We’re excited to bring the power of design across the city and showcase talents from around the Kingdom. We’re building the sector's future together and ensuring that local talents are given the tools and skills to succeed through thought-provoking talks, workshops, masterclasses, and networking sessions," she added.-TradeArabia News Service