Three Egyptian students managed to match two things that are seemingly made for each other: spas and Nubian serenity. Spa facilities allow you to escape everyday troubles and refresh your mind, body and soul, while Aswan’s environment seems like the perfect launchpad for an escape.
by Muhammad Ghamrawy
Using Grohe’s Grandera Warm Sunset (Rose Gold) home spa range as a base, they were able to creatively integrate Egypt’s rich culture with modern European products.
“We tried to find something different and not so well known globally that reflects Egypt and its rich culture. Globally, Egypt’s culture is always associated with Arab, Islamic and Pharaonic elements, but not necessarily Nubian elements,” says Meral Ahmed Saeed, one of the winning students. Saeed, along with her colleagues Gamal el-Din Aly and Mona Aly, clinched an internship with sanitary fittings company Grohe after winning the Grohe Design Series competition held for the first time in Egypt at Helwan University last month.
They made indoor and outdoor designs for a home spa, and some promotional material that fits the concept they chose. “Nubian Egyptian culture incorporates Nubian, Pharaonic, Islamic and Coptic styles. It is perfect for what we were seeking to deliver. Nubia is known as the land of gold and precious goods. This is what inspired us to link Nubian architecture to our spa design, especially since we are basing it on the Warm Sunset Rose Gold range. It’s simply a perfect match,” Saeed says.
Grohe launched the competition under the slogan of ‘Cultural Relevance of an International Brand in the Middle East,’ with Helwan University, targeting students to showcase their talents in the field of interior design.
The nine students who were chosen by the jury to participate in the competition were divided into three groups, with each group containing three students, and were tasked with revamping a home spa design. “Aswan inspires calm and relaxation — key ingredients for a memorable spa design. Nubian architecture is renowned for its use of natural materials and its usage of some of the best lighting and airflow systems, while maintaing a sense of luxury and sophistication, and so most of the design relied on Nubian decorative elements,” Saeed says.
The students, who are studying at the faculty of Applied Arts, succeeded in impressing the jury with their sense of creativity and competence and captured first place in the competition, winning paid summer internships at Grohe locations around the world.
“In an increasingly dynamic world, designers are often agents of change,” Vice President of Design Michael Seum said while congratulating the students.
Grohe MENA Head Simon Shaya said the Grohe Design Series is a regional program launched in 2012 to “encourage, support, and reward successful creative works by young university students in the field of design.”
The program also “gathers insights from the future market talents that summarize the knowledge, skills, understanding, values and attitudes essential for all students to succeed in and beyond their schooling,” Shaya says.
Shaya believes the program allows students to participate in an environment that is outside their academic comfort zone, allowing them to think in different ways to tackle real-world community issues.
“We put them in a situation where they have to work on project as if they are in the real world working environment. The course plan is designed to provide opportunities that engage and challenge all students to maximize their individual talents and capabilities and to promote lifelong learning, which is achieved via the progression of group and individual design projects,” he says.
Shaya described the Helwan students' work as “impressive” and added that their concepts were so inspirational that it was difficult to choose the winner.
Shaya exuded optimism saying the Egyptian market now offers massive opportunities after a few difficult years. “Housing investments are lined up followed by commercial projects. We truly believe that the growth will accelerate hence taking a much focused approach in our investment in Egypt,” Shaya says, noting that the “Egyptian Leadership is sparing no effort to find solutions for the accumulated problems.”
He noted that in a sea of unprecedented turbulence in the region, Egypt stands out as one predominantly secure and stable country. “Egypt is one of the most diversified and dynamic economies in the Middle East and Africa region, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and service at almost equal production levels and leadership driving the country to move towards a more market-oriented economy and promoting increased foreign investment,” he says.
“Egyptians are embracing our novelties and showing more and more commitment to quality which is a synonym for Grohe,” Shaya says, emphasizing that Grohe’s business in the Egyptian market saw 28% growth for FY2014 and 23% for HY1 2015. He attributes such success to winning landmark projects like Kempinski Royal Maxim Hotel, Fairmont Sharm El Sheikh, Cairo International Airport, Dar El Fouad Hospital, Movenpick El Quiseir, Sofitel Gezirah Hotel and Uptown Cairo.