Ziza Wiza gallery feels just like home

Farah El Alfy
5 Min Read

Ziza Wiza may sound like the name of an off-the-wall playschool for hyperactive toddlers, but it’s not. In fact, it may well be the answer to your home furnishing prayers, whether you’re going for an ethnic, oriental, modern or even rustic look, this new space has it all under one roof.

Set up as a fully-furnished apartment, the Zamalek gallery brings together the creative designs of owner Maha Shoukry (aka Papousa). The visitor walks through bedrooms and living rooms featuring plum, orange, lime green, grey and silver mixed with aged wood. Somehow, the collection’s color palette gives it a timeless aura.

Papousa is an Egyptian-Italian furniture designer who has made a name for herself in the past few years.

A former financial manager for an international brand in Spain for many years, Papousa took classes in painting, wood carving, decorative techniques, sculpting, etching and furniture design, launching her career as an apprentice at a furniture workshop owned by a friend.

“When I moved back to Cairo in 2000, I decided, now is the time to start my own thing, she said.

The first piece she made was a baby crib as a gift for a friend. The style was old-fashioned, made out of aged wood with hand-painted flowers.

“When I exhibited my work here and there and I gained more confidence because people liked the stuff I made, she told Daily News Egypt. “It gave me the drive to create new things.

On display is an Asian rustic bedroom with a low wooden bed, and a cupboard with an large lock, which Papousa says are extremely popular pieces. She explains that they are also the type of thing she enjoys doing most. She sands, stains and waxes the wood with her own hands.

“Wood is beautiful, she says. “You go to a lumber yard and each piece of wood is a work of art. The more you sand it the more it comes to life.

Although this pastoral style is popular, Papousa says that more people are opting for modern furniture. Although this is not her passion, she still creates some exceptional contemporary pieces.

“I’m not crazy about the modern stuff because it will be out in a while, she says, “For me a piece of furniture is treated wood with a bit of carving but not too much. It looks inviting and warm, but you have to keep up with the market.

Among of the finest pieces on display are a modern dining room table in glossy lacquer, and a chandelier featuring chrome and adorned with hanging crystals. The light given off by the chandelier makes a lace-like pattern, and the creation has a classic elegance, mixing modern design with an impression of expense.

Another original design is a sofa bed made out of jeans, which is a practical option for a summer house when you have extra guests.

One of Papousa’s favorites was a dikka (an Asian day bed) made of old azizi wood that she had smoothed out to remove the rough edges. Most people assume it is teak wood imported from Asia, while actually most of Papousa’s things are made of local material. At her small factory in Sixth of October city, Papousa works with her own carpenters.

“I love the fact that I make everything here, she says.

“People have this idea that anything that is imported is better, but we have great carpenters, so long as you understand what you want. You just have to keep raising the standard bar more and more.

Paintings in a 1960s theme add a little color to the whole display, as do Papousa’s collection of Andy Warhole-style paintings of Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

Ziza Wiza: Furniture and Home Accessories138, 26th of July St., Zamalek, first floor. (02) 2 736 5807Or email Papousa at: [email protected]

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