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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Mit Rehan: Chic, Oriental-Inspired Furniture in Zamalek
Step inside virtually any Cairo apartment, and there is a strong likelihood that it will be furnished and decorated in the typical, classical Egyptian style: ornate, dark, and invoking a time in Egyptian history when the thing-du-jour was to adorn one’s home with fakes and replicas of French Renaissance-like house ware. The house will be questionably cluttered with crystals, fancy cushions and lampshades that a home in Victorian-era England could have had. Step inside one of Mit Rehan’s two entrances, though; and the style and design of its furniture and home accessories could not be more different.
Open since the mid-1990s, Mit Rehan is an upscale furniture and home accessories shop selling contemporary pieces that retain the Oriental/Middle Eastern style, but with a 21st century flare and elegance. Shereen Fahmy is both the owner and the designer responsible for almost every item in the shop, with the exception of accessories such as mirrors, trays and other wall ornaments, some of which are imported or are antiques. Fahmy blends Oriental/Middle Eastern themes into the simple silhouettes of her bed frames, couches, tables and more.
The designer also employs a myriad of colours in her designs – bold crimson reds, silver-blues, taupe, etc – using a plethora of materials such as velour, cotton and wood as well as bronze and glass. It’s fairly safe to say that there is something to satisfy almost every kind of taste at Mit Rehan.
This kind of elegant, unique home accessories comes at a steep price. While the products available are beautiful and of a high quality, it is arguably overpriced; a small set of two mirrors with an iron frame sells for 6000LE; a framed nautical-inspired sketch costs 390LE and a large iron chandelier sells for 6000LE, while a simple silver coffee tray with a bit of detailing on the corners will cost you 1050LE.
Looking for an entire set for your bedroom or living room? Mit Rehan currently has a silver-blue living room set including a couch (9670LE), two single chairs (2215LE each), wood and glass coffee table (5000LE) and a set of two large, modern glass lamps (2400LE) patterned in a Greek/Mediterranean theme (geometric patterns against a soft silver-blue velour-style material).
Mit Rehan can customise orders for its clientele; the living room ensemble, for example, can be reupholstered with a different fabric, and the shop’s friendly sales person mentioned that custom-designed and built pieces are also an option.
Classy, modern, and filled with one-of-a-kind creations, Mit Rehan has everything you'd need to outfit a home, albeit at a very high price.
Based out of Dokki, Kerdan Home brings together two very different phenomena that have come to define shopping in Cairo – home delivery and drawing inspiration from classical Egyptian culture.
As one of the latest retailers to embrace the convenience of online shopping, Kerdan touches on the continuing popularity and celebration of authentic Egyptian design with a range of creative wall accessories based on the kerdan – a type of jewellery or accessory worn in Upper Egypt, but with a modern twist. To call it an accessory would be maybe doing it an injustice – these necklaces are often treated as family heirlooms that are passed down through generations.
Largely made out of wood, Kerdan Home’s primary product comes in a range of designs that, as mentioned, put a contemporary touch on the pieces without losing the heritage that they have come to embody.
One of the first pieces we spotted while browsing the Kerdan Home Facebook page was one of the closest to the traditional Kerdan, shaped like a crescent, with a row of carved triangles sitting above a row of embossed triangles in red and blue. Taking up a span of 50cm, this piece goes for 550LE.
Other pieces that caught our attention, meanwhile, moved further away from the traditional kerdan was made out of two main triangular pieces – rather than the crescent shape of the previous piece – that hang on several chains, with smaller triangular shapes in each of them, as well as hanging down from the bases with smaller chains. Despite being a little more complex in design, this piece goes for only 250LE.
Other designs include one that uses traditional iconography such as the palm-shaped Arabic hamsa symbol with the traditional symbol of the ‘evil eye’ in the centre. Hanging of the palm is smaller palms off of chains and the whole piece goes for 150LE. Other notable kerdans include ones that use a more simple, rectangular shape, while one of our favourite pieces had an almost Aztec or Mayan touch, using zigzag patterns alongside more triangles.
While some argue that the continuing use of traditional Egyptian culture in fashion and decor is superficial, we beg to differ. The value of ‘buying local’ is very real and with so much creativity surging through the veins of local designers and retailers these days, Kerdan Home is one such retailer that has, at least, presented something original. It’s a niche, yes, an acquired taste, maybe – but then all the best things are.