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Alef Gallery: Mediterranean Fusion Goods in Zamalek
Stocked with Egyptian, Islamic, Coptic and Arab-style handmade goods, there is little that Alef does not offer in a unique and stylized way. The shop is sure to keep you busy for a while, with furniture, fabrics and home accessories. They pride themselves on perfecting classic paintings and elaborate woodwork, making it the ideal place to pick up some colourful, artistic pieces.
Egyptian-style 'tableyas' painted with murals and others with traditional Islamic-style patterns come in different sizes. These can be hung on a wall or used as an actual table; you can also take your own picture and have it painted directly on the tableya.
Light fixtures include low hanging chandeliers and ceiling fixtures in both copper and glass. Sofas upholstered in Bukhara range from imported, hand-woven Bukhara to the more affordable printed version. Bukhara cushions, pouffes, curtains and tablecloths are also custom-made upon request.
There’s plenty to choose from in the way of wood and glass tables, goblets, vases, lamps – even classic copper doorknobs and curtain rods. Amid the variety of items to choose from, you could easily get lost in the multiple rooms in this place, or wander off into a period drama fantasy.
Painted tiles are also customisable, and they are especially attractive with their Islamic/Coptic-themed designs. These can be framed or glued directly onto a wall, depending on your preference. Look out for stained glass paintings and partitions, which are hardly noticeable in the brimming shop.
Wooden paravans with engravings and paintwork are a nice accessory to segment multi-functional spaces. Traditional Arab-style canopied beds can be adapted as sofas and can serve as stylistic fillers in large spaces.
A large selection of fabrics, including linen, sheer, upholstery cotton, thin cotton for curtains, chamois and moiré will leave you baffled; and if you’re looking to buy; take your time, as the selection of prints and materials is huge. Printing usually takes three days to one week and printed fabrics will cost you anywhere between 150LE and 260LE.
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.