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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
L’Oiseau Du Nil: French Countryside Glamour
Cairo is never short of home accessory stores, many of which seem to be dotted around the Zamalek island. Opened across from the Fine Arts College in early June 2010, L’Oiseau Du Nil (Bird of the Nile ) is the latest elegant Zamalek gallery to offer a diverse collection of paintings, accessories and furniture pieces in a spacious and elegant setting.
There’s a certain cluttered and sporadic sense to the store in the way the items are randomly positioned and displayed. The store’s large windows carry an attractive arrangement of pepper-red cushions with vibrant flowers under an equally vibrant leather bag, both of which contrast nicely with the bright blue, wooden child’s desk and its quaintly matching stool. Oil paintings and silkscreen prints adorn the walls, all by local artists for prices ranging between 3000LE and 15,000LE.
Perhaps it’s the chilli pepper curtain hanging behind the storefront window, the sand beneath the window’s displayed items or the long wooden and cream chaise longue temptingly reclining in the store’s corner, but the items invoke a certain summer house vibe. If this reviewer had a beach house, the round, wooden four-seat table would fit perfectly on our terrace. Two eight-seat oblong lacquered wood tables (15,600LE) in either black or white are displayed on either side of the room, both of which are modern, sleek and graceful additions to a spacious and well-lit room.
For something a little fancier, a His-and-Her set of black wooden cabinets (9100LE each) carry portraits of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. A display shelf in the centre of the room holds delicate ashtrays, mugs, teapots and vases in china, glass and silver. On one end of the store, a white cast-iron bed (2200LE) is decked out in 100% cotton sheets and a quaint, handmade quilt in bright pink with flower patchwork (around 400LE). Bedding and cushion covers by local brand Malaika are stocked on a shelf next to a selection of delicate notebooks.
On the other side of the room, display shelves carry a collection of leather bags and fabric clutch bags by Vika and Nuniz, including a snakeskin clutch bag with an Arabic calligraphy slogan in silver (400LE) by Vika, and a canvas brown and beige clutch bag by Nuniz for 600LE. A golden cabinet displays large stone rings and golden drop earrings by Dina Magawry, while a separate cabinet contains delicate gold-leaf necklaces and bracelets with the kaf symbol as well as several large stone rings. Prices range from 300LE to over 600LE for the jewellery.
While many of the store’s items were quite aesthetically pleasing, the shop’s formula of combining home accessories with jewellery, bags and paintings is far too familiar. Too many galleries and stores have recently tapped into this trend and display the same styles, if not the same labels.
Nonetheless, L’Oiseau provides elegant and chic home accessories and gifts just in time for the summer season.
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.