Traditional Egyptian handcrafts are popular, young designers are incorporating them into their work and the signature shapes and patterns can be found in anything from curtains to jewellery and clothing. The authentic applications of the time-honoured techniques are equally as popular and Markaz in Maadi carries one of the larger collections in town.
Walking into Markaz is like opening the door to a treasure trove of handmade products to add colour and beauty to your home or your wardrobe. From scarves and pillow cases to curtains and table cloths, most featuring embroidery or beads and are made out of complementing fabrics.
The Markaz Craft Revival and Development Centre is not just a store with pretty things. Markaz works with artisans from all over Egypt and although it is a commercial business, they are committed to making a positive social impact by creating a platform in which local artisans can gain financial independence and pass on their skills to younger generations.
The products Markaz sells can be separated into two categories, those made to traditional design by craftswomen and men in the different governorates. The other category features products made under complete Markaz supervision, from design to completion, and often involve different components from craftspeople from several governorates. The latter products carry the Markaz label and make up around 60 percent of what is on offer in the store.
What all products have in common is that they showcase traditional crafts from all over Egypt. The artisans are usually from the poorer urban and rural areas of Egypt and Markaz is committed to help create financial sustainability for the crafts women and men and equally preserve the skills by providing the possibility for families to garner an income by using their traditional skills. The success of Markaz allows the children of the artisans to learn the skills as a viable way of life, thus ensuring the perpetuation of these traditional art forms.
The collection in Markaz is impressive and those looking to browse for a present or just something to liven up their living room have lots to choose from. Personal favourites from the collection include the bedcovers that are stitched together into duvets in contrasting yet complementing colours that will both keep you warm during the colder winter nights and look beautiful. Furthermore, the cotton scarves available in a riot of colours and the beaded and embroidered purses are examples of traditional Egyptian handcrafts with a new twist that are hard to resist.
Knowing that buying something from Markaz directly supports its creator can be an added incentive to splurge, but this is hardly needed. The designs are beautiful, the array of available colours and designs and the range of products makes it nearly impossible to leave the store without picking something up.