The Egyptian capital is this year’s "Iconic City" at Dubai Design Week, spotlighted in an exhibition featuring over 65 designers and which opens Monday and runs for six days.
‘Cairo Now! City Incomplete’ is the title of the highly anticipated display curated by Mohamed El-Shahed, founder of Cairobserver architecture and urbanism blog, that brings Egyptian designers and creators from different fields for the first time together in one site.
Iconic City is one of six major art and design initiatives running throughout the second edition of Dubai Design Week.
Beirut was last year’s Iconic City, with an exhibition titled Brilliant Beirut 1950-2015, stretching back into history to showcase six decades of design in the Lebanese capital.
El-Shahed chose to focus on the present, with a presentation that highlights contemporary designers and looks at the current design landscape.
Between product and furniture design, graphic and typeface design, as well as architecture and photography, the exhibition focuses on emerging initiatives that “despite the lack of a marketplace or an infrastructure supporting their practices, continue to innovate, to turn the city’s trash into new products and revive fading traditions with a contemporary edge,” El-Shahed says in the exhibition’s description.
The exhibition also includes a number of visual artists. Photographer Rana El-Nemr will display ‘Telekinesis’, her vibrant video collage of Egypt’s balcony designs, while Ibrahim Ahmed joins with sculptures of red bricks made with unusual materials. Graphic designer Maged El-Sokkary presents digital artwork depicting cities as portraits crowned with architectural features, and designer and street artist Ganzeer will showcase his debut sci-fi graphic novel, while the work of street artist Agnes Michalczyk, known as The Mozza, will be displayed on the façade of the exhibit in Dubai, one of her signature black and white collages of women in places normally dominated by men.
Some of the participating furniture designers are Lina Al-Orabi, NOSS Designs, Studio Meem, Ain Design Studio, and Reform Studio. Product designers include Ain Bicycles, Encode Studio, Salsabeel Amin, Mohamed Nabil Labib, Dina Naguib, Upfuse, while the featured designers of apparel are Kojak Studio, Tombokka, Studio Zafir.
Menn Baladha and Kiliim are two design initiatives offering contemporary versions of some traditional crafts.
In interview with Ahram Online, El-Shahed noted that recycling materials and revisiting the old local crafts to make contemporary pieces are two trends running in the budding design scene of Cairo, and the trend is visible in the exhibition.
The exhibit will also feature visual and research based projects interested in documenting and discussing the development of design and architecture of Egypt.
Such projects range from photobooks like Found Khatt by Noha Zayed and Basma Hamdy, which records calligraphic scripts and signage across the city, to the community-centered collaborative platform Madd by Ahmed Zaazaa.
‘Cairo Now: City Incomplete!’ will be on display at Dubai Design District (d3) between 24 and 29 October, at the heart of the biggest design event in the region.
Cairo Now! City Incomplete exhibition, 24-29 October 2016 (Dubai Design Week)
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