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Saturday, 19 June 2021

Young Green innovations in Egypt

In collaboration with the British Council in Egypt, local NGOs aim to instill and develop new and green creative industries

Amira Noshokaty , Sunday 19 Jan 2020

‘It’s the dream of every carpenter is to own a Fabrica and I thank you for that, and for all the ‎ideas you gave us,’ stated Mokhtar, the young carpenter as he showcased his latest wood ‎item. The shelves/side table are lego like, can be assembled differently and have no visible nails ‎to show. ‎

Last week, the British Council in Cairo launched a very unique exhibition with a rather long ‎title that sums it all up: Design, Brand, Craft Exhibition by CLUSTER and Peacock for Arts is one ‎of the projects under the Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies (DICE) programme. 

DICE supports the development of creative and social enterprises in the UK and five key ‎emerging economies: Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and South Africa.‎

Aiming to foster inclusive growth and progress on UN Sustainable Development ‎Goals, Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies will take an innovative, cross-sectoral ‎approach that draws on UK expertise in creative and social economies.‎

The workshop redefines creative industry, according to Omar Nagati, founding partner of ‎CLUSTER, a grouping of architects and urban planners. In an opening speech he ‎highlighted two such workshops implemented in Fayoum and Ard El-Lewa entailing collaboration between college students and experienced craftsmen and the aim to go green. FAODA Association in Fayoum and Hawamish in Ard El-Lewa (rural ‎Cairo) ‎helped coordinate aspects of the workshop programme.

The results were amazing. Among the chairs, desks and various modern home accessories, a ‎crib stood out.‎

The crib, made from palm leaves rather than traditional bamboo, was the brain child of Shaimaa Ismail, ‎interior designer and fresh graduate in 2019 from Sixth of October University in applied arts.

The workshop was held in Al-Agameein village in Fayoum governorate, where they used to ‎make a whole chair without using a single nail. Such designs can be made without having to import anything.‎

"‘I love curved lines, because we are all curved in shape. You will never find a sharp angle in ‎nature, so I used the idea that palm leaves are natural materials and will eventually curve up in ‎time, and I created a crib, which is curved, and will be sustainable for exactly the time that the ‎child will need it until the child outgrows it,’ Ismail told Ahram Online. ‎

Ismail added how much she learnt from her firsthand experience with craftsmen with whom ‎she was able to find a language based on trust in their experience while following through with ‎agreed upon new design. ‎

To Dalia Salem, founder of Peacock, which is an entity that introduces art in public places ‎through partnership with artists and designers, the idea was clear. "I was very interested in the idea ‎of creative industries with functionality. I read the call for proposals, and we partnered with the ‎testing and marketing and design, so that we are sure that the final product is connected to the ‎market." "CLUSTER have great experience in architecture, and urban planning,” she said.

Fayoum is a culturally rich governorate close to Cairo. With CLUSTER, Peacock also implemented ‎projects in Ard El-Lewa.

"They ‎didn’t know they can do more. So we introduced the workshop," ‎Salem added.

A separate workshop in Ard El-Lewa was held on wood.

"Through Fabrica (a ‎small wood factory located in Ard El-Lewa), we were able to introduce new wooden forms ‎and units that you assemble." ‎

‎"We are currently thinking of taking it a step further by connecting with Concept stores, to see how ‎the market can fit the needs of Egyptian consumers," Salem added.  

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