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Meet the Egyptian Female Duo Selected Amongst IKEA’s All-Star African Collection Designers

The co-founders of Reform Studio, Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem, were just selected among an incredible pool of African designers for the Swedish retailer’s 2019 feature collection.

The entrepreneurial duo behind Reform Studio, Mariam Hazem and Hend Riad, were just selected by Swedish furniture retail giant IKEA to be included in their assembly of leading African designers for the launch of its African-themed furniture collection, set to be in stores worldwide in 2019.

Along with the masterminds behind the Egyptian brand – which has been making waves for their gorgeous furniture made out of up-cycled plastic bags - the IKEA collection will feature an incredible pool of top designers, architects and talents from South Africa, Angola, Rwanda, Senegal, Kenya, and Ivory Coast.

The talented ensemble is the result of the Swedish brand’s collaboration with South Africa-based creative design hub Indaba, which will see leading fashion designers, architects, and illustrators from all over Africa produce their collection for 2019, according to CNN.

Hazem and Riad during their work sessions with IKEA designers in Cape Town. (Photo credit: IKEA)

Reform Studio is an “umbrella of many ‘Re’s,” as the founders define it. “We see design as a recreation of an existing idea, a redevelopment of objects, reusing of materials, reviving of cultures, and reforming of our world,” explain the founders. The award-winning design studio, which is based in Cairo, exclusively showcases their designs at some of the cities hottest interior hubs, including Eklego and Dokan Boutique.

Starting as a university project the startup saw the light of day in 2014 when it was backed by Egyptian accelerator Flat6Labs, it has since nabbed international design awards in Milan. The entrepreneurs - who were featured in CairoScene's 25 under 25 in 2015 - aim to create responsible and thoughtful products; by partnering with NGOs to collect and recycle discarded plastic bags to turn them into fabric. “Plastic bags are the second-most wasted material in Egypt, and it takes a thousand years for a plastic bag to degrade,” said Hazem in an interview with CairoScene. The entrepreneurs not only focus on building sustainable products, but also reviving a craft that is slowly “vanishing in Cairo;” the craft of weaving. Having realised they wouldn’t be able to find weaving workshops in the city, the entrepreneurs decided to visit a special needs school where, “the children there were taught that particular skill,” Hazem explains.

Now, the duo sets off to re-think and reuse IKEA’s food packaging for their local store in Cairo, as they take part in the company’s collaboration in Cape Town.

Main Photo by @MO4Network's #MO4Production.

Photographer: Lobna Derbala. 


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