(Drum)Sticking it to the Man
From simple stickers and light switch covers, Sherine Abdel Rassoul has created a kitsch empire.
This week we sat down with quirky designer Sherine Abdel Rassoul whose unique line of tile stickers and light-switch covers has all the cool kids heading to Blend Furniture to customise their living spaces with her kitsch aesthetic. The founder of Drumstick has also expanded beyond 2D graphics and has started making one-off home accessories that combine the wonder of art installations with the pragmatism of furniture that you use (and abuse) every day. We catch up with Sherine to talk design, dildos and Nadia El Guindy….
So, what got you into the sticker business?
Honestly, I have no background in design. I used to work in print journalism and decided I’d had enough so in 2009 I went about creating and designing. I started with handicrafts and painting and always went running to Mummy to show her what I’ve done, hahaha! I decided on stickers because, as the former editor of GMag, I knew about printing and paper.
How did you come up with the name Drumstick?
It was a joke I had in my head. I thought of other names first, then thought about maybe calling it Matchstick, but three days later Drumstick was stuck in my mind. It’s my favourite part of the chicken too, and I think that’s a good enough reason!
What was the defining factor that made you decide to make a businss out of it?
I always had a fear of too much thinking and not enough doing. So many people say they want to do this or that and it’s only chit-chat. I was working at GMag for 4 years and I wanted to do something before I got stuck. To be honest, I never really wanted to own my own business because in reality it’s a lot of hard work!
So why tile stickers?
When you go into a friend’s rented house and they take you for are tour, the bathroom and kitchen are always terribly decorated and there’s nothing you can do to hide it. Tile stickers are a perfect temporary and cheap solution. I’m also obsessed with bathrooms; I think they are the most underrated room in the house. It’s the only room where you can sit alone and clear your mind.
Do you ever actually ask the tiles and light fixtures about their feelings? Maybe they don’t want to be dressed up as a pop-art Om Kalthoum!
Haha, well they look happy to me!
Each of your collections seems to stem from different aspects of local design and culture, so tell us: what’s your favourite Tamer Hosni song?
I don’t know! I might like a song of his but I wouldn’t know if it’s his or not. I could make a sticker for him, it would be pink with hearts and have his name on both sides of the arrow…I bet it would sell like crazy!
We want commission on this sticker. So where do you get your inspiration?
I think because I’m still new at it, I haven’t run out of my main inspiration which comes from how rich the country is in terms of design. Egypt is likea hub of old cultures. Every time you look at anything here, it has so many different stories.
Who is your favourite Egyptian artist?
He’s a writer called Salah Jahin. He stops at nothing, he’s not your typical old Arabic writer or poet: he is himself and he lost himself in it. In fact, he was a writer but quickly became songwriter and caricature artist and an actor too and I just love those characters!
What did your family think when you started making stickers for a living?
I don’t think they were taking me very seriously. I started working with stickers and maybe six months into it my dad was like, “So, how’s your earring business going?” But they’ve come around – now when I tell them about new deals and numbers, they’re like “Begad?!”
We’ve seen that you’ve be up-cycling materials to make unique accessories and furniture. Are they one-offs?
Not all of them. The television fish tank was, because it was really dealing with living fish. I was like a scientist doing experiments – I’d stand there with a chart and everything! I started with a goldfish who would swim up to the oxygen filter which would push to the other side and by the time she swam back, she’d have forgotten and get slammed against the other wall again. Then I got a fighter fish instead of a goldfish and he did fine.
What’s your favourite piece?
The chair made from water bottles. It’s held together with rope – no glue or adhesive or anything. I worked with a friend on it who is a designer because we had to study where the pressure falls and how to make sure the bottles won’t collapse. You can treat it like any other chair – it’s been doing fine for over 2 years and I’m really proud of it.
If you were on an episode of a show called ‘Pimp My TukTuk’, how would you pimp your TukTuk?
Oh, there has to be some sequins and there has to be some serious super tacky pimping with fur and dashboard dogs and electric banners…
What’s the weirdest bespoke request you’ve received?
It’s funny you mention that now because I was doing the interiors of Zafir in Zamalek and they wanted a TukTuk to come out of the wall! So I thought it’d be easy to just buy a TukTuk and cut it in half. But to find one, I had to befriend a bunch of TukTuk drivers…
So a Russian business man offers you a billion pounds to make a couch out of dildos, would you do it?
That could work well actually, it would vibrate and everything! If you could design the interiors for any celebrity – alive or dead – who would it be?
Nadia El Guindy!
Would you make her a dildo couch?
I think she’d ask for one, yeah!
Have you ever thought of doing exhibiting your work?
No, because I want my things to be used and not just looked at. I don’t like how they make design and art so “holy”. That’s why my collections are reasonably priced – I want my work to be accessible.
Is there any competition in the market for what you’re doing now?
There is one company called Proceed who literally just photocopied my stickers and put their logos on it. They didn’t even do it well and printed the stickers on paper, so they fell apart because they aren’t waterproof.
How do you feel about that?
I would like them to go fuck themselves! No, honestly if they did a good job, I would have been angry, but they did such a horrible job that I don’t really care.
If we gave you an ambuba, a ribbon and a hanger what would you make?
I’d probably use it as a clothes store display: maybe put a lamp in it and tie the lamp with a ribbon and fix the hanger on to the ambuba like it’s a mannequin.
Genius. So, Morsi comes up to you and says “I would like to pay you a million dollars to cover the presidential palace with Drumstick stickers but you have to say that you’re an Ikhwani company forever.” Would you do it?
Yeah, but I would put photos of naked, fat women on the stickers.
Is there a special piece that you’re working on now?
I’m making a table for a client out of Nabolsi Shaheen soap! I’m also working on a new product line as well as doing a version 2.0 of the Tarboush lamp. And I’m getting married in two months!
Will the invites be stickers?