Hand-carving a chair in Cairo


Jameel Home of Conventional Arts is a conventional woodworking college in Cairo, Egypt, the place they not solely train conventional strategies of marquetry, carving, and furnishings constructing, however additionally they train ceramic work, brass, gypsum, and glass.

Mirna ElTatawy ميرنا التطاوى lately graduated from Jameel Home. Mirna’s chair, pictured under, is an impressive instance of up to date woodworking constructed from historic inspiration. I discover it unimaginable to debate furnishings historical past with out acknowledging that scholarship on the topic will get a bit caught within the 18th century. I acknowledge this may be attributed to file holding, however that is additionally the place I discover the English language very limiting. As a result of if you wish to talk about unbelievable historic woodworking, one can not ignore artwork historical past inside non secular communities and the Islamic conventional arts.

I have to cease right here to put in writing that “Islamic” just isn’t precisely an correct time period, however this phrase alternative nonetheless serves a function. The Islamic world consists of billions of individuals all around the globe and the phrase won’t ever absolutely embody such native range. Particularly, on this article, I wish to acknowledge that the ability and aesthetics rooted in Egyptian custom and Egyptian artwork and structure have deep roots in Islamic inspiration.

Mirna ElTatawy sits in her hand carved chair

Mirna attended the Jameel Home and graduated this 12 months (2022). She accomplished a category in woodworking whereas finding out political science and there found her ardour. For her remaining graduating challenge at Jameel Home, she created a show-stopping chair. Let’s speak about it.

A hand-carved chair with a floral design by Mirna ElTatawy.

The chair form is enclosed in a easy rectilinear type. That simplicity is required to encompass the unbelievable carving, a closely floral design impressed by the Al-Qus mosque. The continual carving wraps round every nook of the chair and is additional emphasised with a clear ribbon of brass inlay. Mirna accomplished all of the wooden carving and inlay by hand.

A hand-carved chair with a floral design and white upholstery by Mirna ElTatawy.

This chair took two months to complete and now sits within the Jameel Home Gallery. Mirna constructed it out of mogana, a mahogany selection.

The chair is a masterpiece. It displays a vital interpretation of decoration, the place adornment just isn’t solely technically difficult and aesthetically pleasing, but in addition structurally integral to the shape.

Islamic artwork has profoundly affected furnishings historical past and craft. Take a set of Fifteenth-century Minbar doorways on show not in Cairo, however in England on the V&A museum. Or simply take a glimpse at Seventeenth-century Italian or Spanish marquetry designs. These types are ubiquitous in a lot of woodworking, cabinetmaking, and structure. They make the most of a number of units of sophisticated geometry. The ornament is not only for appears—as an alternative, it’s central to the complete construction.

There’s a motion in social media to deconstruct the mentality that “decoration” is sinful or superfluous. And nowhere within the universe does it higher, in my view, than a mosque.

A hand-carved chair with a floral design by Mirna ElTatawy.

For extra details about Mirna, discover her @mirnaeltatawy_112 on Instagram.

Jameel Home opened in 2009 in collaboration with the Prince’s Faculty of Conventional Arts positioned in London, England. The college continues to companion with establishments across the globe to spotlight conventional and modern artwork types.

For an in-depth take a look at marquetry and inlay historical past, try Inlay within the Mediterranean Basin, a group of articles offered at a convention of the Affiliation of Furnishings Research and the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona.

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