Maison du Caire


Eclectic, Inspiring and Eminently Enjoyable

By Hilary Diack

Take an impassioned and creative group of entrepreneurs, an iconic Maadi villa, a lot of inspiration and hard work, and what do you come up with? Cairo East Magazine spoke with Nadia El Zarkani, co-founder of Maison du Caire to get the inside story on how the eclectic space came into being.

CEM: Nadia, when did you start Maison du Caire, and who are your partners?

NZ: We started in our current location, bit by bit, in February of 2015. When the opportunity popped up to create a design house in such an amazing old villa we needed to create a good team to bring the idea to life. We are six partners, all very different in many ways, but with a shared enthusiasm and energy for what we do: Nuniz bags, Nevine Soliman Design, Art et Voyage, our art gallery,
Adam Elwan bespoke jewelry, Raffaella Savides with The One and Pop Up Shop, our concept store.

We came together in a random way, not having known each other before, but we ended up with a great dynamic.

What was the initial idea behind Maison du Caire?

I had always wanted to have a place with Egyptian-made clothes, jewelry, accessories and household items, created by local artisans and craftsmen.  There was so much talent around, with beautiful work, but without the benefit of the right exposure. Rural communities were getting support from NGO’s for traditional crafts, but we were lacking a platform for young designers who wanted to carve out a career in their fields. Five years ago friends and I had started to initiate a project, but the climate at that time was just not supportive. The dream never died, and when I saw that a villa I had always admired was available for rent I knew that the time had come. It is not only about having a sales venue for the products, it is a gallery and place where people are welcome to pass by, relax, browse and chat, a place where they can feel refreshed and inspired.

Did Maison du Caire in part evolve from your already popular bags and leather goods label Nuniz?

Bags have been an obsession of sorts for me since I was very young. Around seven years ago I finally found time after being busy raising a family to pursue the idea of creating my own designs. It was essential to be sure of the quality, so I opened my own workshop and employed a skilled team who could deliver the standard required under my supervision. It has been both a hands-on and learning process, but the reward has been in seeing the Nuniz range going from strength to strength. Of course, the idea of having Maison du Caire was in part to have the right environment to showcase Nuniz creations.

What type of items can we find at Maison du Caire, and where are they sourced?

Importantly, nearly all of the products are locally made, many by our creative partners, with the remaining items coming from the Mediterranean and nearby countries. Our selection is constantly changing and evolving, so there is always something fresh and exciting in stock when people pop in. Apart from our gallery, where we host work by up-and-coming artists, you can find original clothing, home accessories and signature pieces of furniture, hand-crafted jewelry, foodstuffs, candles, and of course, Nuniz pure leather bags. We are committed to keeping the prices at a realistic level, without compromising on quality or our unique style, and accept orders and requests for custom-made pieces.

Have there been many challenges along the way?

Of course. Something like this does not come without its ups and downs. We continuously remind ourselves that it takes patience to get results, especially in Egypt. But when we see the appreciation for what we are doing we know it is worth it.


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