Exhibition "Cairo Now! Incomplete City" - Instagram @Sawwad.Fashion.

Exhibition “Cairo Now! Incomplete City” – Instagram @Sawwad.Fashion.

Dubai 2016 – We guess you don’t generally hear architecture and design news from Cairo. For the first time an exhibition explored the Egyptian capital vibrant creative scenario. CAIRO NOW! CITY INCOMPLETE features projects by 65 Egyptian designers and creatives. But also their “love-hate” relationship with their own city.

Exhibition "Cairo Now! Incomplete City" - Studiomeem Off the Gireed collection.

Studiomeem “Off the Greed” collection.

This is the first time Cairo designers are united under one roof. It’s an unprecedented event due to a lack of infrastructures in Egypt”. Says curator Mohamed Elshahed. “We don’t have annual events or co-working spaces that bring us together. We mostly work alone. But when you see all these designers together, they are a great portrait of our city”.

Exhibition "Cairo Now! Incomplete City" - Ahwa chairs by Mariam Hazem @ Reform Studio.

Ahwa chairs by Mariam Hazem @ Reform Studio.

How is being a creative in Cairo?

Cairo designers respond to ArchiPanic: “The city has become restrictive for people who want to experiment. From the start everything is stanfdardised. It’s like we are all casted in molds since we are kids. But to actually take on something you have to give it a try. As experimentation is unacceptable”.

Exhibition "Cairo Now! Incomplete City" - This is not a pipe Ehem.

“This is not a pipe” by Ehem.

We are forced to find quick fix solutions. Very challenging but very interesting as well” say the designers. “It keeps us on our toes”. Indeed, it could be hard to find professionals, technicians or specialised craftsmen. Same thing also for materials, components and machines.

Lighting wheel by Mohamed Nabi Labib.

Lighting wheel by Mohamed Nabi Labib.

Cairo is a hate/love relationship. It can be a hate/hate relationship as well”. But “being here helps us to generate more energy. It motivates us more”. Despite the lack of a marketplace or an infrastructure supporting their practices, Cairo designers continue to innovate, to “turn the city’s trash into new products and revive fading traditions with a contemporary edge.

Pottery by Menn Baladha, Alik Mikaelian, Amira El Shawarby and Salma Adel.

Pottery by Menn Baladha, Alik Mikaelian, Amira El Shawarby and Salma Adel.

Mohamed Elshahed: “They always take Cairo with all its flaws as well as their muse and as the source of their creativity. The city’s zeitgeist is reflected in their often satirical take on the city’s absurdities”.

Hathor - photo: courtesy of Dubai Design Week.

Hathor – All photos: courtesy of Dubai Design Week.

Why Cairo as an “incomplete” city?

Mohamed Elshahed: “The theme of incompleteness is a reflection of the city’s status quo. It has a disjointed transport system, partially restored historic buildings, expansion into the desert with partly realized satellite cities, speculative urbanism where buildings are never fully completed to avoid taxation…

Exhibition "Cairo Now! Incomplete City".

Exhibition “Cairo Now! Incomplete City”.

“Plus the tendency to leave concrete sticking out of roofs in the hope of adding additional floors in the future. This theme is extended to the unrealized potential of the city’s current generation of designers”.

Exhibition "Cairo Now! Incomplete City" - Ahmad Samaklaban.

Ahmad Samaklaban.


RELATED STORIES: CLUSTER has documented how individuals and communities are redefining trough protest the structure of Cairo public spaces.

Visitors at "Cairo Now! Incomplete City" exhibition.

Visitors at “Cairo Now! Incomplete City” exhibition.