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The spotlight is on NIU’s sparkling mosaic-infused installation at the gateway to Dubai’s Downtown Design 2021 – the region’s premier design fair

The spotlight is on NIU’s sparkling mosaic-infused installation at the gateway to Dubai’s Downtown Design 2021 – the region’s premier design fair


Designed by Dubai-based Italian design studio NIU and embellished with mosaics by Fantini Mosaici and highlighted with state-of-the-art Artemide lighting, the mesmerising land-art installation grand entrance to Downtown Design 2021 – the region’s premier design fair – is an inviting contemporary interpretation of an urban cityscape.

Built using sustainable materials, the project known as ‘Thru’ is an interactive, multifunctional architectural passageway leading to and from the Fair’s main door.
“Our aim was to design an installation that would highlight the Fair’s entrance from a distance, act as an entrance portal and also be a waiting and meeting place, to celebrate Dubai’s post pandemic design boom,” says Giorgio Palermo, NIU’s dynamic founder.

Main architectural attractions: Selfie pods and sculpture:
The focal point is Fantini Mosaici’s large mosaic-clad caricature, evocative of a design muse, created by Italian artist Antonello Blandi. The sculpture incorporates an olive tree, representing the ideas and concepts that are bouncing around in the muse’s head. Meanwhile, a richly decorated mosaic bandeau scarf drapes from the head to form a chaise where visitors can recline and relax.

“Our artisans are creating dramatic and intriguing mosaic elements for the Downtown Design event that will play a key role in reconnecting and reinvigorating the A&D community,” says Enrico Fantin, CEO Fantini Mosaici.

Much festivity and creativity will be generated when visitors enter the two larger elevations that contain the selfie pods, whose design is inspired by traditional circus games! The pods are decorated using avant-garde mirrored and stripped ‘Barrisol’ stretch fabric and Fantini mosaic patterns; they are complemented with energy-boosting and sanitising Artemide light features that blend to create an aura of positivity and wellbeing and deliver optical illusions!

“Artemide light makes the entrance installation even more interactive and engaging. Light is extraordinary circular energy, capable of feeding nature, supporting human beings’ lives and, today, thanks to Integralis technology, also allowing us to return to living together safely,” explains Carlotta de Bevilacqua, President of Artemide.

“It’s an uplifting and engaging space where you can experience the elements characteristic of city life: people, landscaping, seating, archways – all complemented by subtle sound effects,” elaborates NIU partner Elena Gregorutti.

“We sought to create an urban path – a piece of land art – that is also a container of contemporary artistic expression; an experiential space where visitors will explore various ways of self-expression/representation through art,” Palermo adds.

In this path, the Artemide light creates a sustainable scenography, engaging the visitor in a dialogue with nature, space, and perspective towards the entrance.

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Built and installed by Vogue Interior Decoration, the main components are a series of angular blocks of varying sizes, constructed from eco-friendly ‘Viroc’ cement-bonded particleboard panels that provide seating and house the two larger units.

“Major considerations included the narrow space and height restrictions, and the challenge of creating a functional structure that would enhance the flow of visitors while allowing them to enjoy the immersive design experience,” the design partners say.

Keeping the environment in mind, all design elements and materials were strategically selected to ensure that they can be relocated or reused following the five-day event.

Support partners:
The installation was built and installed by Vogue Interior Decoration using materials from Wow Factor Building Materials and Lapietra Nursery.

Design talk:
Please join the creators of ‘Thru’ for a walkthrough and talk at 18:30 on 9 November at Downtown Design 2021, to discover more about this alluring installation.

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