CAIRO – 25 June – 2018: Reinterpreting Phharaonic icons into contemporary designs, designer Shaimaa Kamal, who won the International Product Design Award in 2016 thanks to the glory of Pharaonic design, has succeeded to revive the buried Ancient Egyptian art and attract the world’s attention to Egypt’s great heritage of design.
“As long as our civilization remains trapped in museums, books and documentaries without being introduced to people’s daily life whether nationally or internationally, we will never be aware of its greatness. But, resurrecting it makes us remember our roots,” Kamal told Egypt Today.
Because of her eagerness to revive Egyptian heritage in a way that fits the modern era and shows the world the glory of Ancient Egyptian art and design, Kamal designed in 2016 contemporary Pharaonic design in style, the wing sofa, which later nabbed the International Product Design Award from the world’s professional designers.
Shaimaa Kamal designed in 2016 contemporary pharaonic design in style, the wing sofa, which nabbed later the International Product Design Award- Shosha Kamal Design House’ official Facebook page
In January 2016, she began to design the wood-painted gold wing sofa, which was presented in May 2018 alongside other pieces from her Pharonic furniture line at the great Luxor Temple where she got her inspiration. This came as a part of Cairo Bank’s advertisement for Ramadan this year to shed light on young people who succeed in building something different.
Shaimaa Kamal’s the wood-painted gold wing sofa was presented in May 2018 with other pieces from pharaonic furniture line in the great Luxor Temple where she got her inspiration, as a part of Cairo Bank’s advertisement in this year’s Ramadan-Shosha Kamal Design House’ official Facebook page
To redesign the wing image found on Tutankhamun’s chair in a more modernized way, she abstracted the original design from all its colors, making the wing’s lines sharper and straight, made of wood-painted gold, at the sofa’s back. In the meantime, she designed a basic and silent front without any decoration to make the wing “the hero of the design” and serve its greatness.
According to the piece’s description, the sofa’s used materials are wood-painted in copper for the back and pure white leather for the seat to communicate the luxury and the causality of the pieces.
Shaimaa Kamal’s wood-painted gold wing sofa was presented in May 2018 with other pieces from her Pharaonic furniture line at the great Luxor Temple where she was first inspired, as a part of Cairo Bank’s advertisement in this year’s Ramadan-The International Design and Architecture Award’s official Website
Upon completion, the wing sofa design competed with the world’s pioneering designers’ in the 2016 International Design and Architecture Award.
Although she has entered many competitions, she says this competition was very special to her as only one designer who can receive the award as opposed to the case with other competitions; hence, it is very challenging, revealed Kamal.
Besides, the International Design and Architecture Award is unique in targeting global ordinary audiences as the award is not judged solely by a professional jury. The shortlisted entries are presented online, after being chosen by the jury, to get the acknowledgment of ordinary customers and clients in the vote along with professional designers as well.
Kamal believes that her piece was chosen among many other international designs to win the award given global thirst for Ancient Egyptian civilization. The sofa is the first attempt to revive Ancient Egyptian culture and create uniqye, contemporary Pharaonic design, she added.
She further remarked that she owes the 50 percent of the credit to the original designer, who created it 4,000 years ago, and the other 50 percent to the modern designer, who has reinterpreted the wing into a modern style.
After winning the competition, she completed her Pharaonic furniture line of a 10-piece collection, including the wing sofa, with each piece reflecting a single icon such as the scarab, Horus’ eye, the key of life or the snake.
Kamal formerly studied business at the German University in Cairo and worked in marketing at Unilever. However, she found this path unfulfilling and sought to pursue her lifelong interest in design.
A trip to Milano, Italy, changed her life as she accidentally saw a fly at the airport announcing that the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the first female winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, had established a new center of art in Milano.
“At first, I did not know Zaha Hadid, so I decided to google her to know more about her. Upon being introduced to her works, I felt there was something common between us; both of us are Arab women who love art. So, I quit when I returned from Italy and went off for a year to study Interior and Furniture Design at the Florence Design Academy in Italy.”
It was during her time pursuing graduate studies that she decided to interpret Pharonic Egyptian motives and culture in a contemporary way.
“Most of my designs are Pharaonic as when I was in Italy, I felt depressed that my studies included all design styles of the world’s civilizations, except for Ancient Egyptian style although pharaohs were the first to excel at designing.”
Upon returning to Egypt, she opened her own company, Shosha Kamal Design House, aiming to pursue her entrepreneurial drive.
Greek Campus’ renovation
The first project she took up upon her return from Italy was renovating the exterior of a former American University in Cairo building in Downtown, the iconic Greek Campus now serving as a startup hub.
Shaimaa Kamal maintained the building’s historic glamor of the Greek architectural style and introduced, at the same time, figures of Pharaohs climbing the building in a race toward its highest point- Shosha Kamal Design House’ official Facebook page
Inspired by the diversity of human beings, Kamal brought two civilizations and different eras together; she maintained the building’s historic glamor of the Greek architectural style and introduced, at the same time, figures of Pharaohs climbing the building in a race toward its highest point.
“The Pharaohs resemble youth’s daily efforts, trying to reach highest levels of success,” she said.
Meanwhile, pop art blended the modern world with the past found in the ancient building style. Hence, the climbing pharaohs were colored with red, yellow, blue, orange and green, she says.
The Great Zayed Memorial
“This project is what I most proud of, as it was made for the 57357 hospital; it is a great honor for me to design something that the kids would see every day and distract them from their pain.”
Shaimaa said that Dr. Shreif Abu el-Naga, the vice president of the Children’s Cancer Hospital 57357, asked her in 2015 to collaborate on a project that would honor the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan for his generous contributions to the hospital.
The award-wining interior designer decided to honor him in an Egyptian way. “When Pharaohs honored someone, they linked his existence to the sun, so I followed their tradition.”
Kamal worked on the design and execution of the memorial its for three years in collaboration with a including sculptress Rossana Corrado and the head of mechanicalEdward Nokash. The final product is comprised of a flock of 75 pigeons forming the face of Sheikh Zayed.
“The memorial moves twice a day; once at sunrise, to symbolize his birth, and another at sunset, referring that Sheikh Zayed has left our world, but his goodness still surrounds us… the memorial reflects that Sheikh Zayed is born from the greatness of sun and the prosperity of pigeons.”
A composition by acclaimed musician Omar Khairat plays for sunrise, while one by musician Hisham Kharma plays at sunset. The memorial is characterized by its beauty, and was inaugurated in early 2018.
Kamal Pharaonic furniture line is slated for release by the end of 2018.