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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Catacomb: A Mixture of Handmade Art
Hidden on a sublevel on a quiet side street in Maadi Degla, Catacomb is a small, cozy and eclectic shop full of Egyptian-made products. Whether you’re looking to accessorise your room or add to your jewellery collection, Catacomb might actually have just what interests you, and it’s all handmade!
Catacomb has quite an extensive and diverse selection to choose from, with items that vary from vintage to modern art. Teenage girls may enjoy the different jewellery styles that are made of silver, coloured glass and all kinds of coloured semi precious stones that resemble Indian jewellery, while adults will appreciate the wooden trays and mosaic tables.
The shop is not only managed by one person; there are a few partners. Catacomb works with 150 different artists, some of which are well-known artists and others are aspiring. They also work with NGOs and schools from Fayoum. Items on display include handmade shawls by Rasha Gawad from Asyut, who mainly focuses on Egyptian textures, patterns and calligraphy. For more info on her work, check out her Facebook group.
The shop in itself is a small basement. Paintings are hung up on the walls as you make your way down the stairs. Dim lighting and warm-coloured walls give the interior a very welcoming feeling. Inside, there’s a variety of wooden furniture, including chairs, tables, drawers and couches. The designs are versatile; they vary from Islamic to Indian styles.
As you browse around, your eyes will fall on calligraphy-designed cloth, coloured glass, moulded statues and a full stand of natural artefacts, such as: handmade luffas, massaging oils and tools, and other scented oils. You can find Egyptian pop culture references on coasters, trays and jewellery boxes. There are Souad Hosni imprints on some, while others have prints of movie scenes from the 60s.
Jewellery varies from long necklaces and rings with carved text, which are simple yet rich in substance, to more expensive jewellery made of real stones. You will also find leather key chains, bags and little small pockets for coins and other small accessories in African and Bedouin styles.
There are all different kinds of oriental chandeliers: plain ones with designed holes that seep the light through onto the ceiling; hanging chandeliers with dangling coloured glass; and every other design you can imagine.
Prices vary to make things affordable for everyone. There are colourful and designed glasses for as little as 1LE, while jewellery varies from 33LE to about 400LE, paintings start at 50LE and trays sell for 100LE upwards. Prices vary depending on the complexity of the design and the material.
So whether it’s jewellery, furniture, natural products, candles, or home accessories, Catacomb is definitely a place to check out. This can be a great place to visit when you want to buy a house gift for a friend or a birthday gift for your mother. You will definitely find something to your liking.
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.