Said is the inheritor of a family business that produces a variety of artisanal products mostly designed using wood and brass-work. Both his father and his grandfather ran this business. It has been in their family for 70 years.
Said overseeing a woodworker.
Said produces a great variety of designs, all customizable depending on the clients needs. Many of Said’s designs are markedly more contemporary than the traditional styles seen elsewhere in the neighbourhood.“The problem with most of the producers here is they don’t innovate. They copy the same designs again and again,” says Said. “We adapt to new tastes. Egyptians used to cook with ghee but now they cook with oil. With us it’s the same. We’re adapting to new styles and also making products that are functional.”
Woodworkers using chisels to create decorative panels for beds, chairs, and other furniture.
“But for us to do new designs is a big risk. I initially invest with my own money, for a few designs, and then insha’allah the customers follow.”
Mother-of-pearl is inlaid into some of the designs
“The problem is whenever something goes mass, people with taste don’t want it.”
When it comes to sustaining the business of artisanal craft generally, Said is down-beat. “Unfortunately it is all down to individuals within families to sustain the craft. No one else helps. There is no government support.”
His clients include Egyptians, people from the US, Italy, some expats working in Embassies in Cairo and the occasional Arab buyer.