To the passerby this pleasant villa blends effortlessly into its verdant garden surrounds, and gives little hint of what lies within. Open the doors though, and prepare yourself to enter a veritable treasure trove of collectibles that immediately evoke golden periods of Egypt’s rich history and culture. Painstakingly amassed by the villa owner, Shireen A.R. El Kady, Chairman of Prime Holding, each piece has been restored or reworked and given new life within a sympathetic ambience. Many of these distinctive pieces came from the Sabteya gallery of one of Cairo’s most astute and knowledgeable experts in period memorabilia, Hajj Fathy.
A rich spectrum of wood features throughout each space, from the bed and the desk created from solid beech pine or arrow imported over 120 years ago by the British to be used for railway sleepers, to smaller pieces made from wood native to Egypt. Sadly, according to the El Kady, little effort has been made to conserve these native trees, so he went to considerable lengths to obtain the raw timber that was to become two gracious side tables. Wood like shagaret el tut, and kafour, which is stronger than teak, is becoming more difficult to find, but with passionate collectors it will still be lovingly preserved in an aesthetic form.
The solid, simple dining table allows the warm tones of beech pine to be seen at their best. The wood was reclaimed from an old staircase, but now has a second breath of life as a functional piece with its own distinctive integrity.
El Kady muses that carpenters of today lack the artistry of those of previous generations. However, under his careful supervision, along with clarity of vision and infinite patience, a new generation of heirloom pieces has been created to please generations to come.