American hardwoods to feature widely at 2nd ‘Dubai Design Week’

AHEC to unveil installation at Downtown Design 2016 and present at the talks programme of both Design Ras Al Khor (DRAK) and Dubai Design Week


September 19, 2016 – American hardwoods are set to feature widely at the second edition of ‘Dubai Design Week’, the Middle East’s biggest celebration of design, which will take place from October 24 – 29, 2016 across the city. Following success at the inaugural design event last year, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has announced its plans to participate at both Downtown Design 2016 and Design Ras Al Khor (DRAK), two key events taking place during Dubai Design Week (DDW). This year’s Design Week will cement Dubai’s status as the design capital of the MENASA region with more than 100 events taking place in Dubai Design District (d3) and all across the city over six days, and with significantly more visitors and internationally renowned exhibitors expected to attend.


Aiming to highlight the beauty, versatility and environmental credentials of American hardwoods, AHEC is collaborating with T.ZED Architects on an installation at Downtown Design 2016 by repurposing thermally-modified American ash that was previously used to clad AHEC’s stand at exhibitions in Turkey in 2014 and 2015. According to Tarik Al Zaharna, Founder and Director, T.ZED Architects, the main challenge was to utilize a specific quantity of thermally-modified timber (TMT) in order to produce a long-lasting installation at Downtown Design 2016 and beyond. The installation will not only serve the purpose of being shown at the fair but also aspires to have a prolonged presence in the public realm around Dubai and the UAE, long after the event has ended.


“The basic concept is to create a cocoon that is gently placed in a dynamic and frenzied environment. The overall structure allows individuals to physically and metaphorically disconnect themselves from the surrounding urban setting and invite them into a quiet space where moments of reflection simply emerge,” said Zaharna. “Our collaboration with AHEC has provided us with a unique opportunity to test the durability and performance of TMT in a climate and context that are very different from where it is most commonly used, and naturally sourced. Given the properties of the timber following its treatment, we want to re-use and create a unique installation that could demonstrate and challenge the physical properties of this American hardwood as well as its versatility and durability.”


Launched in 2015, the Design Ras Al Khor (DRAK) initiative aimed to draw attention to the potential of the Ras Al Khor Industrial Area – one of the oldest in the city – to become a creative district and hub in Dubai. The collective design initiative returns in 2016 and the theme for this year is ‘Celebrating Wood.’ As part of DRAK16, AHEC will be bringing the acclaimed New Zealand designer, David Trubridge, to Dubai, along with ‘Aleni’ – a recliner bench he made from thermally-modified American ash for AHEC’s Seed to Seat project earlier this year. David will also be heavily involved in the talks programme of both DRAK and Dubai Design Week, giving him a chance to talk about his work in American hardwoods and his experience of working with product life-cycle environmental profiling.


“DRAK is a collective design initiative established by myself and three creative designers and friends. This progressive design movement aims to draw attention to the potential of Ras Al Khor Industrial Area and encourages design research, innovation and material exploration,” added Khalid Shafar, Co-founder, DRAK. “We are very grateful to have AHEC on board with us as one of DRAK16’s Official Partners. Along with their support and partnership, the week long exhibition at Dubai Design Week will explore the topic, ‘Celebrating Wood’ and present four main design projects by upcoming international and locally-based designers. We will also be showcasing in the region a few international projects on a special platform – ‘International Projects Selection’ – streamlined by our official partners where AHEC will showcase the ‘Aleni’ recliner by award-winning designer David Trubridge. AHEC will also present a fresh new approach for timber consumption in the region through a panel discussion alongside a group of international speakers and designers. Together, we endeavor to transform this part of Dubai into a creative district that will inspire and nurture future generations.”


With the return of DDW, Dubai is set to further establish its status as a cutting-edge, vibrant global design hub. Last year’s inaugural citywide event attracted design aficionados, designers, architects and thought leaders from over 150 of the world’s leading studios, agencies, brands and educational institutions to present work, exchange ideas and showcase innovation in design. According to Cyril Zammit, Director of Design at Art Dubai Group, the event last year tapped into something that both Dubai and the design industry had been waiting for – a global platform for design in the UAE and the Middle East, and an opportunity to share and explore perspectives and ideas with people from a multitude of countries and cultures. This year’s edition then looks set to be an unmissable addition to the world’s design calendar.


“Our presence at Dubai Design Week marks our strong commitment towards the promotion and marketing of American hardwoods as a truly beautiful and sustainable material in the region. The collaboration with T.ZED Architects, Downtown Design and DRAK will help throw the spotlight on thermally-modified American hardwoods, which are relatively unknown amongst the specifier community in the region. In addition, our support for the Commercial Interior Design Awards, which take place later this week, will help strengthen our ties with the top designers and architects, celebrate American hardwoods and recognize some of the very best talent across the region,” concluded Rod Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania.

About AHEC

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the U.S. hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among U.S. hardwood companies and all the major U.S. hardwood production trade associations. AHEC runs a worldwide programme to promote American hardwoods in over 50 export markets, concentrating on providing architects, specifiers, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply. In addition, AHEC also produces a full range of technical publications. For more information, please visit:


About Downtown Design

Downtown Design is the only platform in the Middle East for the region’s trade professionals to discover original, high quality design from all over the world. In its fourth edition, the Fair returns to the Dubai Design District and presents a carefully edited roster of established and emerging brands across a variety of product categories; including furniture, lighting, bathrooms, kitchens, textiles and accessories. Fostering greater interaction, connectivity and commercial opportunity, Downtown Design is dedicated to providing a dynamic environment for buyers and brands to do business easily and efficiently. The fair runs from October 25 – 28, 2016 as part of Dubai Design Week and will be held at Dubai Design District (d3). For more information, please visit:


About DRAK

Design Ras Al Khor (DRAK) is a collective design initiative established in 2015 in Dubai and founded by four UAE based designers: Khalid Shafar, Khulood Thani, Nadine Kanso, and Tarik Al Zaharna. With the objective of drawing attention to the potential of Ras Al Khor Industrial Area – one of the oldest in the city – to become one of Dubai’s creative districts, DRAK plans to grow annually by covering different areas of design, involving more design practitioners, and becoming a design movement that encourages Design Research, Innovation, & Material Exploration. For more information, please visit:


About T.ZED Architects

T.ZED Architects is an international multiple award-winning Architecture, Interior Architecture and Design practice engaged in projects in the Middle East via their Dubai office, as well as projects in Europe with an office in Luxembourg. Founded in 2015 by Architect Tarik Al Zaharna who has previously practiced in the U.S. and Europe, before establishing T.ZED Architects. T.ZED Architects delivers contextually driven and highly-detailed projects across multiple scales and sectors for private and commercial clients globally. For more information, please visit: