Having been called upon to furnish and create custom pieces for Egypt's most unique businesses and homes, we talk to Maha Shoukry, the matriarch of the mother-daughter team behind ByPapousa, about their hand-crafted items and original aesthetic.
Something that never ever fails to amaze us about Egypt and Egyptians is our ability to make anything. There's a reason why your local naggar can create an unbelievable replica of a classic baroque coffee table using just a pocket knife and a glass of shay. It's in our genes; we built them big triangles, remember, and if you believe your patriotic mum, we invented EVERYTHING. One daughter and mother combo that is continuing this tradition are Maha Shoukry and Kenzie Kingman with their interior company, ByPapousa. They've been beautifying some of Egypt's most quaintly-furnished locations with their unique rustic pieces; their form and function symbiosis blending perfectly together along with whatever surroundings they’re faced with. With more and more mass produced multinational companies taking over in Egypt, it's great to see that there's still a thriving market for original, handcrafted goods. ByPapousa's customised, individual interiors, which take inspiration from her years of extensive art education and love of travel and are created under supervision in her 6th October factory are now available to purchase for the public, we have a chat with Maha Shoukry to find out more...
How did the idea of ByPapousa come about?
I worked for Sean Connery for 10 years in Marbella, Spain. During that time, I took all kinds of art related courses. From etching, painting, wood carving, interior design, basket weaving to carpentry and pottery. In 1999, the Connery's moved from Marbella to the Bahamas and there was no way I was willing to relocate with two young children. So I moved back to Egypt and decided that I would start capitalizing on all the skills I had learned. Interiors were the obvious option as all my different training could come together under one roof.
What would you say is your design ethos?
ByPapousa's design ethos is all about standing out of the crowd. We make unique, statement pieces that can bring a plain room to life. To be clearer, think about adding spices or chilli to a bland dish and the way the taste is enhanced.
Can you custom-make any piece of furniture requested or do you have a catalogue of items?
We do not have a catalogue and we do not mass produce. I usually guide my clients in terms of basic sizing. Each piece is customised and enhanced individually. Just like any great suit or dress, it is made around each client’s specific measurements.
Do you work exclusively with wood?
Mainly wood but we occasionally incorporate glass or metal depending on design.
Are all materials sourced locally?
Yes! Except hardware which is exclusively designed and imported.
Do you have a favourite piece so far?
I love the ‘Ahwak’ dining table. It is the perfect mix of contemporary Egypt. We always give our clients the option to choose the colour scheme of the four or six chairs and, therefore, never make two exact copies.
How do you feel about Ikea coming to Egypt?
I am excited, it is great to see foreign brands investing in Egypt. Ikea mass produces, ByPapousa is composed of original hand-crafted pieces. I am sure there will be a lot of excitement initially, but let’s see if it lasts! CairoScene and ByPapousa should have a competition of who can assemble the same item of furniture fastest and see which team doesn't end up killing each other in the process!
Could you name some clients you've furnished for?
Blu Blu Gouna, Amina K. , GTZ offices, Orange Lakes and Paul.
How does it feel to be Egypt's only female carpenter?
It feels great but certainly raises a few eyebrows.
How can someone contact you for orders?
At the moment its via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Facebook page until my website is up and running. My studio is also open for clients to visit by appointment from Sunday-Thursday and is located in 6th October.