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These Three Egyptians are Putting a Lens on the Country’s Designers in ‘Film My Design’

You could never feel the amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into a finalised product, but now you can.

Staff Writer

These Three Egyptians are Putting a Lens on the Country’s Designers in ‘Film My Design’

Film My Design Cofounders (from left to right: Israa Mahmoud Ibrahim, Nada Ahmed Salem and Farah El-Rafei).

Say you go see a film, any film, even the new 50 shades (we try not to judge), and even though your focus innately zones in on the characters and their respective events, part of it goes into marveling at the backdrop, the scenery that encompasses a scene. True to an extent, a film is carried mostly by its series of events and character building more often than not. But to tap into the more meticulous and immense demographic of viewers, an untold amount of human effort goes into the background; the furniture, the interior decoration and design, as well as the numerous props and items almost leisurely placed around the set.

Creatives, although expertly adept at their respective crafts, tend to have somewhat of a barrier when it comes to communicating their rationale - their method. To recount decades of inherited experience, tips of the trade or even accounts of the learning process, within the usually lax confines of a conversation is somewhat of a task. The flow of ideas is most easily communicated - to a designer - through their work, their design choices, and their finished product. But to convey those ideas verbally? Not an easy feat. The choice of film in the latter paragraph wasn’t just a simple go-to; it was a vague statement at the kind of impact and influence that the video format has on its relevant viewers. You can adequately express and convey topics that are typically difficult to study or ruminate on, within the kind of creative sprawl that film inherently wields. It was this potential mishmash of concepts that - through various trials and tribulations in life - inspired three Egyptian designers and creatives to eloquently mix the intricacies of design with the comprehension of cinema with their design film phenomenon; Film My Design.

Film My Design? Excuse You?

 Gebrl & Osmn with Abdelrahman Dnewar

Film, if anything at all, is a massively rewarding educational tool. For generations, folks have been learning all sorts of fun stuff just from a Netflix & Chill session; history, philosophy, craft and simulated experience. Experience - unlike a great many things in life - is hardly an easily teachable set of concepts; you just can’t pass down years of design choices, techniques, creative disciplines and knowhow through the written or spoken word.

Visuals, with their in-depth capabilities, masterfully manage to convey all sorts of processes and ideals, especially when it comes to a diverse audience; most of which not privy to the kind of background associated with design.

It was a trio of Egyptian designers from different backgrounds of design that took this fact to heart, and managed to make something novel of it. Farah El Rafei; a Design & Exhibition Manager, Israa Mahmoud Ibrahim; an Interior & Product Designer, and Nada Ahmed Salem an Interior Designer. Graduates of the American University in Sharjah, these three visionaries have been deeply immersed in the diverse range of design influences and techniques of the United Arab Emirates, as well as Italy, in the rich fields of Exhibition Management, Interior and Product design. Being exposed to the captivating design communities in both slices of the earth, they turned their sights over to Egypt; wondering where the Egyptian design scene was at, through an unfortunate fog of obscurity and neglect. Through their experiences with international Design-Film festivals and projects, centred on the enlightening aspects behind design via film, they’ve conceptualised their own vision for a Design-Film community dedicated exclusively to the Egyptian design scene, as well as its diverse and precious cast of designers, craftsmen, artisans and filmmakers, with the humbly-patriotic hope of establishing Egypt as a premier example in the MENA design scene, and with any luck, the world as we know it.

Kelos Glass with Youssef Tayeh

“In the age of digital and social media, Film is an incredibly prevalent tool for communication, expression and entertainment, and thus assists in communicating complex ideas such as Design. Film can also drive a cultural and social impact by evoking a more personal, emotional connection with the presenter. In addition, Film acts as a great marketing tool for designers to promote and explain their unique practices to a broader and more diverse audience.” Read a statement by the three designers, aptly explaining a portion of the rationale behind their Design-Film concept. With only an intention to creatively document, archive and curate the immensely diverse and ingenious design concepts and practices, through an intricately created yet curiously entertaining selection of design-centred films. Designers, creatives and filmmakers from around the region come together to weave beautifully insightful tales of their crafts, providing a bounty of educational wealth for future generations to come, and act as a beacon in the overbearing darkness unfortunately married to the world of career choices, facilitating the viewer’s insight into a diverse collection of how-to’s, as well as their choice of bread and butter to follow.

Room No.9 with Amr Laz

Having partnered with a gifted little film production house going, Fink Studios, the band of muses crafted their own homage to the world of Egyptian design through an introductory documentary, deftly representing the kind of direction and message that FMD industriously try to uphold. Centred around five designers the likes of Room No. 9, Kilos and Qubex, in addition to five filmmakers such as Mahmoud Gad, Amr Laz and Youssef Tayeh. They'll be working hand in hand to create 5 different design stories in a diverse set of trades; Furniture Design, Fashion Design, Architecture, Lighting Design and Graphic Design. “What’s interesting is that each individual filmmaker has their own vision, their own approach to how the film will look and feel,” Said Co-Founder Nada Ahmed Salem as we were discussing FMD’s vision, “one filmmaker might have more of a focus on the grit and elbow-grease native to the designer’s process, another might want to focus more on the graphic design aspect to thoroughly show people what a finished product looks like as passes through the many shapes and forms it has to ascend from. It’s a very subjective experience, showcasing both the designer’s creative process as well as that of the respective filmmaker.” A sentiment I found to be incredibly riveting. I may not represent a significant portion of the Egyptian demographic at large, not even that of a creative, but as I’m sure most of you would agree with; watching how anything you use on a day-to-day basis is made from the ground up, from literal scratch, is almost infinitely enthralling. I suppose it hearkens to the kind of innate curiosity that got humans to where they are now.

To capture the kind of creative process that each designer and craftsperson details in the films, to hear their children speak of them and their craft, to capture all these various emotions and nuances on film, it’s a beautiful form of expression that we believe wholeheartedly in.

The way it’s all going to work is through a 3-day annual event centred on design-film, to be held in Cairo, in order to establish an undying and endearing creative Egyptian community of designers and filmmakers, dedicated to the archival and eternalization of the volatile design processes of Egyptian design culture. The first edition will hopefully take off in December of this year, celebrating the finished product as it may through film screenings and exhibitions including a plethora of process materials; the likes of sketches, props, tools, and prototypes. In addition, a range of workshops will also be held to expose patrons and explorers alike to hands-on classes conducted by designers and filmmakers, as well as discussion panels with said designers, delving deeper into a variety of creative topics. They’ll be hosting a launch event on the 20th of April from 7 PM to 10 PM, right here at the Greek Campus; celebrating the initiative with a screening of their 30-minute introductory documentary (a pretty kickass production if I do say so myself), welcoming around 150 attendees from all walks of life and craft, and we’ll definitely be there, front and centre.

CARO-LINE with Mahmoud Gad

Feel like finding out more? Indulge your inner creative and head over to their official website, Facebook page, Instagram,Twitter and Youtube for more insight into the creative minds of Egypt’s design-film community.

Main photo: Kelos Glass with Youssef Tayeh.