Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation Press Release

26 June 2018 | P1C Admin

Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation brings Project Design Space to the UAE with Real World Design Challenges to Nurture Next Generation of Designers

 5 real world design challenges from 5 local and international partners

  • Expo 2020 Dubai offers design challenges to student participants 
  • adidas, IBM, Alserkal Avenue and Splash are confirmed collaborators
  • Overwhelming response, as over 75 UAE schools sign up for the challenge

 Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), in partnership with Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) announce the launch of Project Design Space (PDS) following its successful pilot in the Spring of 2017, where 5 schools from across the UAE competed. PDS is an innovative after-school program, developed by DIDI for high school students, offering a unique opportunity to solve ‘real world’ design challenges with the aim of developing their knowledge of design as an academic discipline and growing industry sector.

Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, President of DIDI and Group CEO of TECOM Group, said: “Our goal is to nurture the next generation of designers in the UAE, and together with the other entities supporting this, students will receive invaluable experience to solve real world challenges and ignite their passion for design. We saw a tremendous response to the pilot Project Design Space challenge and as a result have enhanced this real-world learning experience to reach more students.”

Project Design Space offers student teams the rare opportunity to work on real design projects for actual clients.  Students will receive design briefs from Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.

 adidas, IBM, Alserkal Avenue and Splash will also supply briefs to the students.

The real-world challenges include; designing a car showroom of the future, designing outdoor solutions to drive pedestrian traffic, creating an experience for multi-nationals to connect easily, developing an environmental campaign, which inspires the public to take action and designing smart tech clothing.

There has been an overwhelming response from over 75 high schools from across the UAE, to take part in this year’s Project Design Space challenge. Each participating school will receive specialized training and program materials for their teachers who will lead the student’s through the design challenge.  The teacher sponsors will then work with student teams during after-school club meetings to coach them as they design solutions for their clients.

Following successful application, schools will then submit their prototypes to DIDI by February 8th, 2018. Finalists will be invited to a special event on February 24th, 2018 at the Dubai Design District (d3), where teams will pitch their design prototypes to their clients and attend an award ceremony.

Alya Al-Ali, Expo 2020’s 24-year-old Director of Youth Connect, welcomed the initiative. “One of our key drives is to engage successfully with students and educators throughout the UAE and this offers us another wonderful opportunity to do so,” she said. “World Expos offer everyone the opportunity to learn, innovate, create progress, and have fun by sharing ideas and working together and these will all be possible through our involvement with Project Design Space.”

Speaking on the program, Robert Bock, Senior Brand Activation Director – adidas said, “This initiative is a great way to inspire the next generation of creators in the UAE. Design is a fundamental component of the adidas world and we are proud to be supporting an initiative that recognizes and fuels design and innovation.”

Kate Acheson, Head of Arts at Dubai American Academy said: “Our school is really integrating design thinking, innovation and project based learning into our curriculum.  DIDI provides an amazing opportunity for the students to apply this knowledge and their skills into a real-world situation. Gaining experience from top companies in learning how they process design and working with peers in other schools is a one-off opportunity for many of our students. It is something that I am sure will carry them in their future university and career choices.  It is great to see this type of exciting opportunity being offered in Dubai.”

DIDI is the first private, not for profit design school in the region, and was established following the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. DIDI plans to enroll the first class of undergraduate students on to its Bachelor of Design program in September 2018.


Caption:  Sass Brown, Founding Dean of DIDI talks to students about Project Design Space

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About Dubai Institute of Design and innovation:

The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) is a private, not-for-profit education institution, established by TECOM Group, part of Dubai Holding, and Dubai Creative Clusters Authority as the main shareholders. DIDI will be accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education. As a world-class design education institution, DIDI is focused on nurturing, mentoring and creating the next generation of designers who will turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s reality. DIDI’s industry-leading partnerships, unique approach to learning, and world-class facilities will enable students to follow their passions by creating their own career path, developing the skills they need to succeed in the global innovation-driven economy.

DIDI has entered into strategic collaborations with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design (Parsons) to develop a curriculum that is designed to empower DIDI students to map out their own four-year educational journey, culminating in the region’s first-ever Bachelor of Design degree, with a choice of concentration in the areas of Product Design, Strategic Design Management, Media, and Fashion Design.

About DDFC

In 2013, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Decree No (23) determining the formation of the Dubai Design   Fashion Council (DDFC), a member of the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA). Established in 2014, DDFC’s mandate is to raise   the profile of Dubai as a regional and global destination for design and fashion, ensure the contribution of the creative industries to the sustainable development of the Emirate, stimulate trade and tourism, develop local talent and attract companies operating in the   fields of design and fashion to Dubai.

DDFC’s board, chaired by Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, consists of 14 members representing a mix of key stakeholder groups, including government, academic and private sector experts.   DDFC oversees, supports, promotes and drives initiatives related to five key design segments – Fashion Design, Product Design, Architecture, Interior Design and Graphic   Design.

 About Expo 2020
Expo 2020 Dubai is guided by the belief that innovation and progress are the result of people and ideas combining in new ways. Over the course of six months from October 2020, Expo aims to bring together hundreds of countries and millions of people to celebrate human ingenuity: ‘Connecting Minds; Creating the Future’.

  • Between its opening day on 20 October 2020, and its close on 10 April 2021, we expect Expo to have 25 million visits.
  • 70 percent of all visitors are expected to come from outside the UAE – the largest proportion of international visitors in Expo history.
  • We aim to create and deliver an inclusive and global Expo with over 200 participants, including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses and educational institutions.
  • Expo 2020 also has an ambitious volunteer programme, which aims to include more than 30,000 volunteers from a wide range of ages, nationalities and cultures and backgrounds.
  • The Expo site covers a total of 4.38 sq. km, including a 2 sq. km gated area. It is located within the Dubai South District, adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport.


Follow: Twitter: @expo2020dubai | Facebook: @Expo2020Dubai | Instagram: expo2020dubai

 About adidas AG

adidas is a global leader in the sporting goods industry with the core brands adidas and Reebok. Headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany, the company employs 60,000 people across the globe and generated sales of € 19 billion in 2016.

 About Alserkal Avenue 

Located in Al Quoz, Dubai and established in 2007, Alserkal Avenue is the region’s foremost contemporary arts and culture district. Alserkal Avenue hosts sixteen galleries and over forty creative businesses, cultivating a vibrant community of visual and performing arts organisations, designers, and artisanal spaces that has become an essential platform for the development of the creative industries in the United Arab Emirates.

In March 2017, Alserkal Avenue opened Concrete, a new space in the Avenue and the first building to be completed in the UAE by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Pritzker Architecture Prize-Laureate, Rem Koolhaas. Concrete provides a flexible, multipurpose venue for international arts and culture initiatives ranging from performances, to exhibitions, lectures and various other public events.

In Fall 2017, Alserkal Avenue will launch the first Artists’ Residency on the Avenue, further enhancing the organisation’s commitment to cultivating artistic talent. Located in Alserkal Avenue, Alserkal Residency will run three cycles over the course of the year and is open to emerging and mid-career artists with an emphasis on socially engaged and research based practices, in addition to curators, writers and researchers working in related disciplines.

At the intersection of art, culture and commerce, Alserkal Avenue is more than just a neighbourhood, it is the driving force that brings the community of Dubai together to support and encourage a creative economy.

Visit. / Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: #AlserkalAvenue, @Alserkal Avenue

 About IBM

For more information about IBM, please visit

About Splash

Headquartered in Dubai, Splash is Middle East’s largest fast fashion retailer and part of the Landmark Group, one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the Middle East, India and Africa. Founded in 1993 as a single brand store in Sharjah, Splash currently operates over 220 stores and 55 brand stores (Lee Cooper, Bossini, Kappa etc) across 13 countries.

Showcasing popular collections for men, women and teens, Splash’s existing product portfolio includes a uni-brand concept across its stores providing a comfortable and easy shopping environment. Alongside, the brand also houses a gamut of international brands under its portfolio like Lee Cooper, Bossini, ELLE and Being Human among others.

Splash has also announced international icons Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif as brand ambassadors in the Middle East while celebrating  fashion in its true sense with its tagline ‘In Love with Fashion’.

As a brand Splash believes in constantly being a trend-setter in the region and has successfully created some of the biggest and most popular brand properties/events like the bi-annual fashion shows, the annual Calendar launches which have now become part of the social calendar of the Region. With constant revamping of the marketing portfolio, newer forms of communication are added and channeled to keep the consumer involved.  Splash was awarded as a great place to work in 2017 in UAE & KSA and over the years, Splash has received several significant industry accolades that include being awarded ‘Powerbrand’ status for 2013. Splash has also won the Dubai Lynx Awards in the Design category for the Splash 2014 calendar. A winner of several marketing awards of great significance, Splash has also won the Most Admired Marketing Campaign at the Retail ME Awards 2011 along with the Most Admired Retailer award.

Available in the UAE, the Splash collection is now online at