Hisham Mahdy, CEO of Mahdy’s Group & Cairo Design Award Founder.
As we are gearing up for the anticipated 4th edition of the Cairo Design Award (CDA), we sat down with the man behind this exclusive event, Hisham Mahdy, CEO of Mahdy’s Group & Cairo Design Award Founder, where we learn more about his vision for the design industry, supporting local talents, and much more. In this delightful interview, we also had a one-on-one with Mai Galal, Fashion Designer and Curator of the CDA Fashion Design District, to share her thoughts and inspirations for the future of the design and fashion industry and CDA.
Hisham Mahdy speaks about CDA’s future and vision, as well as its role in supporting uprising talents.
What differentiates this year’s edition of CDA, and how do you see the potential of Egypt’s fashion design industry?
When we first started The Cairo Design Award (CDA), our goal was not to create just an award in itself but to create a platform that connects designers and help young talents emerge into the industry. Now as we witness the fourth edition of CDA, I can proudly say that it has been growing each and every round, as the industry itself grows. This round is the biggest and boldest round yet for CDA, where we’ve introduced both the DeForum; a platform for design talks and lectures, and for the first time ever, in collaboration with Mai Galal, we will be launching The Fashion Design District, where Egypt’s top fashion designers and brands will showcase what they’re creative skills and capabilities.
How do you envision the future of CDA amid the evolving design industry in Egypt and the region?
As the design industry evolves, CDA evolves with it. We are now much stronger as an industry and we are ready to take on international competition. We are happy to welcome international designers who share their wealth of experience with young talents and exchange ideas with the renowned designers already participating with us. We have a very clear, ambitious vision and we strive to further grow and expand CDA as it plans to open its doors to regional designers next year where we will initiate the first-ever Cairo Design Week.
What is your role in supporting young talents in different design categories?
CDA has remained committed and true to its core goal over the years, we aim to shed the spotlight on exceptional designs. We believe that young designers are the future of our industry. Our support comes over three stages. In the first stage, we broaden their design perspective through their visits to the Design District. Secondly, we give them insights from top industry leaders through the DeForum. As for the third and final stage, we showcase their talents and push them forward into the industry through the CDA Award Program. Over the past rounds, CDA has awarded many aspiring talents who are now pursuing their dream career in the design industry.
Mai Galal shares her thoughts on the eminent event and her reasons for participating.
What made you passionate about participating in this event?
The Cairo Design Award is a renowned event that has become an anticipated central meeting point for the design ecosystem in Egypt. It is one of the few events specialized in design. With a special focus on fashion this year with the Fashion District, the CDA offers a valuable opportunity for designers to showcase their products, which are not up for sale yet, to amplify the sense of art and design. I believe in the potential of Egyptian designers and the quality they can bring to the industry. Through CDA, we have the chance to unlock such promising potentials and open the doors to them.
Why do you think there is a significant number of local fashion designers emerging in the market and what is your advice for them to grow on an international level?
My best piece of advice for local fashion designers is “don’t ever compromise quality”. This is what sets you apart and ensures the continuation of your designs and art. Study a lot, get inspired, learn what other designers are doing, get exposed to new concepts and cultures, and never imitate others – have your unique character and believe you are creating a brand for yourself.
If there is one thing you wish to see in the next edition of CDA, what would it be?
I hope for the Fashion District to grow bigger with more and more designers. We already have international designers joining the CDA this year, but I’d love to see more international fashion figures attending the event, giving sessions, and transferring their knowledge to local emerging talents.