More people today are considering contemporary tastes and ideas in home decoration and renovation, a departure from the ubiquitous gilded French style that peppered every self-respecting Egyptian’s home.
Off with the old, and on with the new is the attitude de jour.
There’s a new-found emphasis on comfortable living to be complimented by home accessories and trinkets that subtly allude to extensive traveling to exotic places.
Terra, one of few stores that deliver practical items with taste in this city, labels itself as “the new home of contemporary materials in Egypt, catering to those wishing to incorporate natural materials into their design themes with a novel touch.
Terra means earth, and with such a nomenclature, all items sold in the store are small pieces sourced from nature.
Terra sells a variety of landscaping accessories and necessities.
Color choices are veering to sober modern colors of grays, beiges and browns.
Glazed garden pots in various sizes, available in colors of celadon green, blue and brown glaze are big sellers. Both decorative and durable, these pots can be arranged in pairs or asymmetrically in various colors and sizes, placed for both aesthetic and landscaping purposes.
It is this dual versatility of Terra’s products that is so enticing to customers.
The notion of landscaping a garden and devoting as much attention and importance to it as a home is what drives Terra’s owners to promote such a style of home interiors.
Founding partners Eric Djermakian, Khaled Shoukry and Kamal Zaki have in a short span of time been successful in placing their products in many people’s homes, and in doing so, prompting people to redefine how they live in their own homes.
Terra does not promote itself as a store that provides all the elements of a beautiful home but rather, as a place to discover a special idea or two. Juxtaposing a few imported items and elements with an Egyptian setting could yield that spirit of exoticism and originality which many seek.
All items on display are imported save for the water features which they have started producing locally. “[It’s about] using a certain amount of imported material to give it a little bit of that extra touch, says Zaki.
The products aim to transform an outdoor space into a serene living area. Water features trickle water over Buddha’s large face in a pseudo water fall, or in sets of three bowls with water travelling in a cyclical motion, serving as a modern take on the classic idea of having a fountain in one’s garden.
Limestone and sand stones are sourced from Rajasthan and Jaipur, India, whereas other stones are sourced from South East Asia from actual river beds. Stones in various shapes from small pebbles to larger sizes can be used as gravel in select areas of a garden as a flooring alternative to grass.
Larger stones are halved and hallowed out to use as sinks, and a few exceptionally large ones make for impressive tubs. Although the tubs weigh a ton or so, and require preliminary architectural design and engineering consideration to incorporate them into a home plan, the sinks install just as easily as ceramic ones.
Terra is outfitted in the very products it sells, and in doing so, illustrates how one can use the limestone as flooring or wall surface tiles and contrast it with the other features and furnishing in a room.
There is nothing cold about the feel or appearance of using stone in living quarters. Coming in various colors ranging from beiges to slate grays, the limestone serves as a durable flooring surface in either its rough or polished form, and as a wall surface as exemplified in Terra’s meeting room.
In this room, a gray suede sofa, colored pillows and a suspended chandelier made from translucent shells make the theme of organic design materials more tangible to those who can’t imagine this combination in their own living spaces. Success in using these materials is about knowing how to balance out the various materials in the right amounts.
Djermakian’s office is an amalgamation of wood, pebbles and smooth and textured limestone. His desk is composed of a pane of glass that rests on a pebble covered vessel and a wooden rest. The walls are covered in tiles of stone and framed by panels of wood. The effect is serene and yet wholly practical as elements of modernity are also balanced out, making the notion of natural organic materials a viable choice serving both objectives of form and function.
The store’s bathroom and kitchenette is too outfitted in Terra’s wares and serve as continual inspiration for jazzing up small spaces.
Balinese art work is also sold in the store, and depicts the exotic beauty of island life. Although perhaps more suitable for an outdoor patio or casual living room, the art is pretty.
The store’s highlight though seems to be the objects d’art that is sourced from various locales, making use of petrified drift wood, hallowed coconut tree trunks, and old boat rudders. There is an understated beauty to the rudders with their scales of flaking paint in bold green and blue that have been erected on metal stands, and originality to the hallowed drift wood that could be used a light source by simply placing a garden spotlight from underneath.
Djermakian proudly points out that in their two years since opening Terra advertising has been limited to word of mouth. Prices are considered reasonable by clients and the decorators who work with them in comparison to the prices of tiles and such found on the market.
Terra7 Elnakheel Street, 1st floor, Apt. 501, Mohandiseen, Cairo