Paris Design Week (PDW) is the annual design event bringing together hundreds of French and international designers to share their creations over eight days in early September. In its ninth edition this year, seven Egyptian designers participated in the Meet My Project collective exhibition at Espace Commines in the heart of the trendy Le Marais district.
Talents ranging from interior and furniture to lighting product designers spoke about what inspired their designs, how they balanced functionality with aesthetics, what they wanted the people to feel when they saw their designs, what they liked most about #PDW2019, and what was next for each of them.
Shewekar El-Gharably’s interior and furniture designs are inspired by the love for eclectic design that mixes materials, theories and styles.
“We bring back elements of our Egyptian heritage by subtly or abstractly integrating them into our designs, bringing together a beautiful blend of geometry and nature to match functionality and aesthetics of our modern times,” she says.
"Each piece is drawn and redrawn to maturity and then prototypes are developed and crafted by the best artisans in Egypt until the perfect outcome is reached. When we work on interior design projects, communication is always key to understanding the client's needs and to convey our vision. We aim to invoke feelings of luxury, uniqueness and elegance in a comfortable and accessible way through our designs.
“Participating in PDW19 and being surrounded by all this beauty and innovation has truly awakened my inspiration and got my creative juices running. I was particularly touched by the realisation that art and design do transcend borders and bring people from all over the world together,” she concludes.
Over the past year, El-Gharably's studio grew its interior design portfolio, launched a locally designed and manufactured furniture line and opened a showroom. The next phase will focus primarily on growing the commercial interior design projects and the launch of a new furniture collection to offer local and international clients more beauty and surprises.
Yasmina Makram Studios (YMS) defines itself as a multidisciplinary design studio that emphasises the presentation of refined artful expressions. YMS designs draw on origins then evolve to evoke novelty and modernity.
“Beautiful design for me is achieved when different period narratives are combined and the unexpected is born,” Makram says.
YMS prides itself on a youthful and progressive multidisciplinary team, who manages spaces to create inventive forms of interior design and bespoke products. The collective knowledge of the talented associates generates unique design, unconventional solutions, and intelligent planning.
While in Paris during Design Week, Makram could feel the whole city filled with vibrant energy and excitement.
They unveiled “The Hotep Series”, a collection of ceramic statues of ancient Egyptian Gods transformed into modern design objects, at Meet My Project in Le Marais district.
The YMS team is working on several seaside Mediterranean homes to be ready by summer 2020. In the city, they are working on an art collector’s home and expanding their product design line with new items to be featured around Christmas time.
Shosha Kamal: She views her design profession as a spiritual journey.
“I believe that one can find inspiration in literally everything around us even in garbage piles and the chaotic geometric folds you can notice in there. I believe beauty is everywhere, you just need to wear the proper lens to be able to see it,” she says.
Be it interior or product or conceptual design, Kamal wants people to feel proud of their heritage, reflect on their lives, and connect with their souls. Design is not only about pretty looks and shapes, it’s about life-changing experiences, she adds.
According to Kamal, furniture is a material extension to the human body. In that sense, her design process has functionality at its core. This involves ergonomically testing each product to ensure that the human body is served and well complemented by the designed furniture piece. Kamal participated in PDW with furniture and lighting units from her Egyptian Collection.
Regardless of the nature of the project she works on, Kamal’s ultimate goal is to use design in favour of humanity. Her latest and proudest moment was the launch of Annure Lighting brand at the Paris Design Week this year.
Annure Lighting is a lighting design collection that aims at building a sustainable lighting brand that would contribute to providing clean solar power to impoverished areas around the world. With every lighting piece bought, a home is lit in Africa with affordable and efficient solar energy solutions.
The following designers exhibited under the Annure Lighting brand at the 2019 PDW:
Nedal Badr is an architecture designer. He participated in the PDW with his Alef lighting fixture; available as a floor-standing unit or as a wall-mounted appliqué.
“I believe that art is for raising awareness and knowledge beside aesthetics and beauty. I want people to know about Arabic calligraphy and be aware of its history,” Badr says.
Alef (letter A in the Arabic alphabet) and Noqta (the Dot) are the symbolic items Badr chose in his design to represent this art; through the first (and most graceful) letter and the module of all proportional Arabic calligraphy styles, in addition to using the Thulth font, being the finest of all proportional fonts.
With a strong belief in raising more awareness about humanity and culture, Badr is selling his Alef lighting fixtures under the design collective Annure Lighting.
“The highlight of my week in Paris was the visit to the prestigious AD Intérieurs 2019 exhibition at Hôtel de Coulanges, where the historical space was revisited by top designers blending history with modernity,” he says.
Badr is also the lead architect of the first green residence in Egypt using 80 percent recycled/reused materials. He is also an interior and furniture designer, calligraphy artist, and graphic illustrator.
Sherine Mahgoub is a product and interior designer. She founded the Seera brand for complementary and creative metal designs.
“My philosophy is that every design should be crafted to serve the client's life goals. I believe that a well-designed environment has a direct impact on people's quality of life and overall well-being.”
Shapes, textures, and ideas around us are endless. Mahgoub observes everything and anything, takes notes or pictures of what inspires her. Sometimes the smallest element can lead to a whole design concept. She would love for people to feel that her pieces are daring, genuine, and unique, that it will add value to their space. As a designer, her aim is for people to feel that every design she creates is about enhancing the client's own lifestyle and personal value.
The Form-Follows-Function design principal is what Mahgoub goes by in every design she creates by balancing texture, material, and appearance to function, usage, and comfort as they are equally important for a successful design.
Mahgoub participated in the Paris Design Week under the Annure Lighting design collection with her Timber Trio Lamp, which comes as a side lamp, floor lamp, and ceiling lamp in brushed silver, copper, and gold.
She is currently launching two new metal furniture collections: "Petals” inspired by nature, leaves, and rose petals, and "Chess" inspired by chess forms and shapes.
Hoda Lasheen is keen on the use of natural materials in her designs and sometimes she even prefers to work with defective natural materials without treating those flaws to emphasise their beauty -- the beauty of nature.
A successful design should have a balanced combination between functionality and aesthetics. While Lasheen’s designs are always inspired by nature, she turns those inspirations into functional elements that are unexpected, different and innovative. She also relies heavily on mixing and matching different materials together to break the monotony and create mind-stimulating art pieces.
Lasheen participated in the Paris Design Week under Annure Lighting design collection with her Arabian Shadows lighting unit, made of natural handmade Aserus wood with artistic brass ornaments that add a deep flavour of aromatic Arabian taste to the design.
The next big move for Hoda Lasheen Designs will be designing new products that are artistically innovative yet environmentally friendly and made from sustainable materials.
Mohamed Said is leading the design team at Ebony & Ivory.
Every space, element, material or person, has its attraction, and we’re on a mission to find out what that attraction is. In our work, we care to show the beauty of the space, the character using the space, or the material a lot more than we care to impress the audience.”
Being from Cairo, it is very hard to define a singular source of inspiration, it is as diverse as a city could get yet history and architecture are on top of Said’s sources of inspiration. He would like the people to appreciate the idea and the effort put behind the product, even if they don’t like the result.
For Said, good design is like an equilateral triangle, one side is function, another is aesthetics and the third is price (i.e. setting the right price for the targeted market). Function is as important as aesthetics.
Ebony & Ivory participated in the Paris Design Week under Annure Lighting design collection with their Rocket Side Lamp lighting unit, made of environmentally friendly palm mid-rib sheets from Upper Egypt and especially designed and produced for Annure Lighting.
Said's plan is to capitalise on the palm midrib material to design micro-architecture knock-down units.
Miranda Beshara is a freelance writer and editor based in Paris.