Project Design Space Returns for its 6th Edition

The Middle East’s Largest Student Design Competition

Project Design Space Returns for its 6th Edition

– A masterclass in design, DIDI’s Project Design Space sees a 125% increase in highest student participation, with over 2,500 students from over 110 schools from across the region and India participating in this year’s competition –

– 5 design challenges this year from Louvre Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Health, Hunter Foods, Schneider Electric and HP –

Dubai, UAE, 24 March 2022:  The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), the region’s first university exclusively dedicated to design and innovation, is delighted to announce that participation in its annual Project Design Space competition is higher than ever this edition.  The youth design competition, which is now in its sixth edition and engages students aged 14-18, has seen participation from over 2,500 students this year, a 125% increase since Project Design Space launched in 2017. Schools from across the UAE and wider region (including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Oman) have enrolled and for the first time the competition has also reached out to India.

Project Design Space, now a mature, established design competition, was launched in 2017 with the objective of building design skills and future-focused, problem-solving mindsets to prepare the youths of today for the jobs of the future. Presenting innovative and authentic design challenges from a variety of clients, the programme, which is aimed at high school students between years 9-12, is unique in that it gives participating students the opportunity to solve problems for real life clients.  The five clients on board this year include Louvre Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Health, Hunter Foods, Schneider Electric and HP. 

Commenting on Project Design Space, DIDI’s President Mohammad Abdullah, said: “In our capacity as the Middle East’s first and only university exclusively dedicated to design and innovation, DIDI is futureproofing the next generation of designers, arming them with the skills of the future. Since launching in 2017, Project Design Space has created unrivalled opportunities for creative thinkers to conceptualise, problem solve and turn ideas into impact. It is wonderful to see such considerable engagement in the competition this year – the highest to date – and we look forward to supporting our clients with innovative solutions to potentially contribute to their growth in the UAE and beyond. DIDI is proud to be rewriting the rules on how design is taught worldwide.”

Run digitally again this year, the Project Design Space competition spans a period of six-months, with the DIDI faculty sourcing client briefs, enrolling schools and running workshops for teachers and students across multiple disciplines covering design thinking skills, applied problem solving, prototyping, teamwork and pitching. Having expanded the programme’s reach to the GCC, Levant and the United States in previous years, Project Design Space has, for the very first time this edition, brought its interdisciplinary curriculum to students in India. The design briefs this year include:

  • Leading computer and printer manufacturer HP challenging students to design a “by youth, for youth” course for the HP LIFE learning and training platform in an effort to inspire entrepreneurship and equip youth with the skills they need to be successful entrepreneurs. HP’s global training program, HP LIFE, offers free business and 21st century skills training, including online, offline and in-person sessions in eight languages. HP LIFE is a programme of the HP Foundation.
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi, the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula and the most visited museum in the Arab world, tasking students to design an intervention in one of the destination’s spaces that engages youth with the museum’s identity, narrative, architecture and collections. Students must design either a physical installation, event, performance or a digital component that engages youth of their age to connect with the museum building and the artwork, with a key focus on regional art and the surrounding outdoor space.
  • As the force behind many of the best healthcare companies in the UAE, Mubadala Health has invited students to design an awareness campaign encouraging a greater number of the UAE and GCC populations to attend an annual physical check-up. Seeking to engage with all ages, genders and nationalities, the winning solution will consider what the barriers are for attending an annual physical and clearly articulate the benefits of preventive care, using positive motivation.
  • Global specialist in energy management and automation Schneider Electric’s brief entails exploring how students envision the smart home, challenging them to design a smart home that harnesses the power of technology to enable sustainable, personalized and connected living.
  • And the brief from Hunter Foods, a leading company that manufactures and packages specialty and gourmet packaged snacks and foods, has challenged students to design a universal potato chip product. Students must produce a product “without borders” that can be enjoyed all over the world with universally appealing flavours and a stand-out visual language.

Commenting on their design brief and the collaboration with DIDI, Hunter Foods’ Managing Director Ananya Narayan, said: “What we do has to connect with today’s and tomorrow’s youth.  They are the present and they are the future.  We would love to learn from them, to see the world from their angle and perspectives, and how they like to see and taste their favourite snacks.  In the UAE, we have more than 200 nationalities.  It is a perfect place for our kids and local businesses to be ambitious and to go global, across geo borders.”

Epitomising DIDI’s ethos of collaboration, Project Design Space has, since its inception, showcased an eclectic array of innovative solutions spanning multiple sectors with previous clients having included the likes of Lego Middle East, Adidas, Nike, Global Village Dubai, Alserkal Avenue, Dettol Arabia, Emirates Marine Environment Group, Emirates Nature WWF, Splash, EY, IBM, Elitzam Asset Management, RAK BANK, Landor & Fitch, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Holding, Dubai Design & Fashion Council and Expo 2020 Dubai.

Natalja Kissina, HR VP for Gulf Countries at Schneider Electric commented: “Schneider Electric is excited to give hundreds of students from across the UAE a chance to take part in Dubai Institute of Design & Innovation’s contest. This competition provides youth an exciting platform to create their very own home automation design of the future using Schneider Electric’s energy efficient products and solutions. We are thrilled to be harnessing the power, creativity and innovation of the UAE’s youth to create a pathway to a sustainable future.” 

Participating students and teams this year are due to submit their creative design solutions to DIDI, in video format, in the coming weeks.  The shortlist for each design brief will then be announced at the end of March 2022 and DIDI will shortlist the top eight submissions for each design challenge.  Shortlisted teams will then be invited to attend bootcamp sessions to gain feedback on how to enhance their ideas.  Final presentations will then take place between May and June.

Students from 110 schools have participated in Project Design Space this year.  Amna Asif of Oman’s British School Muscat explains “‘This experience allows us to collaborate and view things in a different perspective, as well as create innovative ideas. I’m glad to have been able to have had the opportunity to do this and meet up with like-minded people.”

Some 12,000 students and 600 teachers have participated in the design and innovation competition to date.

Jordan-based teacher, Hadeyeh El-Hajji of The Ahliyyah & Mutran School, added “DIDI is an experience we learnt a lot from, as understanding how to ideate and research was a key factor in our learning journey. We learnt to work collaboratively and use different methods of research to reach the best results. This journey made us follow the whole design cycle, that we really enjoyed.”

Located in Dubai Design District (d3), DIDI is a private, not-for-profit university. With a curriculum developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Parsons School of Design, DIDI offers the first Bachelor of Design of its kind in the Middle East with concentrations in Product Design, Multimedia Design, Fashion Design and Strategic Design Management.

High res images can be accessed here.

– Ends –

About Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation

Established in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) is a private non-profit university, located at Dubai Design District (d3) and accredited by the UAE Ministry of Education.

With its first intake in 2018, DIDI focuses on nurturing the Middle East’s next generation of designers. Its curriculum is designed to empower students to map out their own four-year educational journey, culminating in the region’s first integrated Bachelor of Design degree with a choice of concentrations in the areas of Product Design, Multimedia Design, Fashion Design and Strategic Design Management.


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