A Nubian/Western duffle bag hybrid? Sounds interesting! Karim Rahman talks to Ghufran Katatney and discovers more.
I'm going away for the weekend. It's only for two days; I don't need that many articles of clothing. A suitcase just wouldn't do. I'm stuck with my old, battered, Velcro duffle bag. It looks disgusting so I have no choice but to take that bulky suitcase that uselessly takes up space. This is a dilemma we have all faced at some point in our lives. Unless you want to pay a small fortune for a nice, durable duffle bag, you have no choice but to relinquish those amenities and go down the more beaten path.
One girl decided to change all of that. Ghufran Katatney, a self-proclaimed art and design enthusiast, got the bad end of the deal when it comes to duffle bags. After ordering a "Tumblr-esque duffle bag from London," which ended up getting ripped at the airport, she decided to turn her luck around. She saw an intricate Nubian fabric in a tiny store down Maadi's Road 9 and a hip little lightbulb popped up over her head. "I decided this rug would be a good component for some new design idea, so I put the cheap, torn duffle bag together with the Nubian fabric and Adrift was born," she explains. Adrift by G is Katatney's baby; already established on the local fashion scene (having previously worked on designing t-shirts and mugs), Katatney's new line of duffle bags combine all the functionality you need in your hand luggage with the visually exciting art of Nubian weaves. "Each bag is unique, so you'll only find one done from each design. They're also all handmade and made from real leather," Katatney elaborates, when asked what sets her bags apart from the rest of the humdrum carry-ons. "I think I have this whole clean, western look going on without losing the Arab aesthetic."
But starting a one-off brand like that isn't easy, even for a veteran craftswoman. How does one go about finding the right materials to create a western/Arab hybrid of a bag? "I look. You cannot imagine the amounts of time I've just ventured into Attaba with no plans, and just went into different stores and asked people. When I find something appropriate, I ask for samples. Then the samples are fixed again and again,and the detailing double-checked before the final product is ready!" When asked about the possibility of venturing into a different market, such as clothes, Katatney said it wasn't an immediate possibility. "Maybe I'll expand into different areas, but I don't plan these things out; they just pop into my head." But that doesn’t mean the young artist doesn't have big plans for Adrift. "I'm planning on expanding into accessories and that includes laptop cases, iPod and iPhone cases. Obviously, it'd be a dream for it to go global but we'll see how things go."
Finally, I asked her what was in her own duffle bag: "Left over attire from last week, so thank you for reminding me to clear that out!" Katatney laughs.
It honestly warms my heart to see the art scene in Egypt thriving like that. With people as talented and driven as Katatney, I can see a future for the arts in Egypt. I can also see a Nubian/Western hybrid duffle bag in my future trip to Sahel.