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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.
Home décor in Egypt has, traditionally, been equated to a few key elements – think gilded chairs and couches, gigantic dining table, et al. As with all things of aesthetic value, this has changed dramatically in recent years and there’s a much more pluralized vision of what a home can be – home décor has changed from a way to please yourself than to please others. Because in Egypt, hell hath no fury like an unimpressed and judgmental guest scorned.
New in Zamalek, Bagua’s philosophy, if you will, is all about giving you peace of mind – through furniture and décor. Located on the quiet Ahmed Heshmat Street, the shop is rather small and packed with pieces. Despite this, though, there’s a certain sense of serenity and playfulness to the space – the kind you’ll want to take home with you.
The first thing that caught our attention was a tall, ovular mirror with wooden framing and stand, painted in a deep turquoise colour selling for 1600LE. There’s also a collection of classic-looking chairs in various sizes and designs that have been reupholstered with a modern, bohemian spirit, some of which have matching seat cushions (190LE).
Several high shelves hold a selection of decorative lampshades; some made of terracotta, others made of glass. Unfortunately, they’re rather glum in colour and lampshades need to be purchased separately. There is also a range of pitchers and jugs, in a similar vein of design, which sell for around 100LE.
Other items of note included dinner plates designed with antique motifs. At first glance, one would assume that they’re mad of porcelain. On second inspection however, we realised that they were made of controversial material, melamine. Stocked in a range of different sizes, the plates retail between 60LE and 150LE.
Bagua houses plenty of great items that would be perfect gifts, but when it comes to essentials of the home, you’re unlikely to find anything that doesn’t make a statement – that of course suits some more than others. One thing that can’t be denied is that the new shop offers some truly unique pieces – how innovative Bagua is when compared to so many other emerging shabby-chic home accessory shops in Cairo? That’s for your discerning eyes to decide.