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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Luxor Co. Alabaster Production: Alabaster Accessories in Maadi
Alabaster has been used in Egypt for thousands of years, dating back to the time of the Pharaohs. Whether you’re visiting an ancient temple or taking a stroll through Khan El Khalili, it’s easy to spot the many uses that alabaster is known for, including household items and ritual objects.
Over the years, the production of alabaster has become so widespread in Egypt that the majority of it is completed by work of the machine. However, we’ve come across a little shop on Road 231 in Maadi that still serves a selection of raw, handmade and unique alabaster materials.
Situated next door to the Hubbly Bubbly café and across the street from La Bottega Italiana is the Luxor Co. Alabaster Production shop. Beautifully decorated and easy to spot from the street with its tastefully designed window arrangements, you can’t help but pop your head in and take a look around.
If you’re clumsy, please beware. The shop is rather small and seeing as how there’s a large amount of (read: breakable) alabaster filling up a rather limited space; it’s quite easy to miss where you’re going and send a piece plunging to its death.
What’s great about this place is the variety of objects being sold from small, circular candle holders (25LE) to larger lamps made of pure alabaster (300LE and upwards). Unlike the machine-made variety; the materials have a raw, translucent and unique look, and they are utterly beautiful when lit up by a candle or two.
For 40LE, a small rectangular alabaster holder comes fitted in a hand-engraved metal casing, which is magnified when lit from the inside. Our favourite is the larger one, though; tall enough to be a coffee table’s centrepiece, the metal’s Zen design is a funky yet soothing addition to any room’s decor. Functional for anything including a candle holder or even a flower vase; the alabaster holder will cost you around 60LE.
The sales staff members have always been pleasant and usually quite willing to knock a few LE off the price. If you happen to be in the area; check out the shop. From the reasonable prices to the pretty looks, it might just have you swooning for a new piece of home decor.
The common notion in the Egyptian market that the word ‘Imported’ stands for good quality has lead many business owners to neglect Egyptian-made products and even take pride in offering the costumer the imported ones. Now that almost everything we buy has been manufactured abroad, one can’t help but be impressed when finding quality products with the label ‘Made in Egypt’.
Among the local brands that are swimming against the tide, Inca & Co. offers a variety of furniture textiles and fabrics, which are designed by Egyptian artists and mostly manufactured in Egypt. Located on 26th of July Street next to Drinkies in Zamalek, the spacious shop well-organised and efficiently set-out. On the left, is a collection of fabrics is displayed on wall-mounted metal tubes, while other products, like cushions, are shelved on the other side. At the centre of the shop, a number of swatch books are displayed on a rectangular island.
One of the collections that can be found in the swatch books is ‘The Road to Marrakesh’, whose relatively light fabrics can be perfect for beach house furniture. From this collection, we liked a white fabric embroidered in black with a simple floral design (340LE per metre).
With a more complex design of flowers and birds, ‘Mexico Passion’ (460LE per metre) boasts a heavier material, durable for daily-use furniture. Not as heavy is the curtain-suitable ‘Winter Dust’ (325LE per metre), whose geometrical patterns come in various colours, including beige and light blue.
Besides fabrics, Inca & Co. has a versatile collection of products, including cushions (medium 325LE / Large 375LE), poufs (1150LE) and mattresses of different shapes and size. From the latter we liked the over-sized squared mattress (1980LE), which can comfortably take two persons, as well as a more firm mattress for a single person (890LE).
And like any Textile shop, none of the displayed items are available for instant purchasing; while the fabrics are received four days after placing the order, other products take to 10 days, which you can customise by choosing the fabric and adding tassels for an extra fee of 65LE.
In the textiles business, both durability and design are of great importance. And while Inca & Co. designs mainly cater to modern settings, the diverse collection promises good quality and taste – but at a price.