Sabry Marouf: Getting to know the Egyptian born designers
Growing up amidst one of the oldest cultures in the world, the young men behind Sabry Marouf have always been fascinated with the mystery and lure of ancient Egypt. And it’s a love affair that has never ended. The duo, who founded their namesake brand in 2012, took their intrigue and brought it to life through a line of bold artisanal jewellery. With Sabry’s historic narrative combined alongside Marouf’s training as an architect, their timeless pieces tell the story of an enigmatic ancient culture. One that has transcended into a debut collection of bags, also inspired by their homegrown civilization. MOJEH sat down with the designers to find out why their new Amarna bag should be on everyone’s radar this SS18.
Before bags, there was jewellery. Can you tell us a bit about this?
That’s where it all began. We needed an outlet to express ourselves! It was around the 2011 ‘Uprisings’ in Egypt and the economy wasn’t doing very well so we both thought, if there is any time we need to set out and do our own thing, it is now! We quit our jobs and immersed ourselves in Cairo’s historic district of Khan El Khalili. We took the difficult route and learnt the craft while trying to develop a new design language and using contemporary processes in jewellery-making.
How long did this process take?
Over three years we created three capsule collections, and we would hold private events slash house-parties gathering friends, friends of friends, etc. And it became our thing; a private brand that serves few people but serves them particularly well. We were lucky to have been in close contact with our clients from the get-go, it helped us gain a sound understanding of our value proposition and how it relates to the market.
Why did you venture into the world of accessories?
Because it was a new challenge which brought along new possibilities. With accessories, there’s the added layer of functionality. A bag not only has to be beautiful and fit human proportions, it also has to carry one’s items. It’s an added layer, somewhat a constraint, and we feel that when we face constraints, it can generate some very interesting results. It is this notion of innovation within convention which drives us to create things. And industries like to compartmentalise; jewellery vs accessories vs fashion, which is understandable. But to us, the medium doesn’t matter – what matters is evoking human emotion and creating timeless objects.
Your new collection is inspired by Ancient Egypt. Do you take an interest in Egyptology yourself?
We’re inspired by ancient Egypt throughout our work. It feels very much like a duty or an homage that we owe to our cultural origins – to dig into this infinite repository of inspiration and attempt to bring things back in a completely new light. We both grew up between Egypt and Europe and it has had such a profound role in the development of our characters and world views. It has helped us come to the realisation that there’s a disconnect between how we see and understand ourselves today and how we internalise the distant past or how we relate to it. There is much to be learnt from looking into the human journey a little closer, and through a different lens. This interest we’ve taken in Egyptology is very much part of us and part of our message.
What materials did you use for the Amarna collection?
We wanted to use materials that communicate the richness of the Amarna period in Egyptian history. The combination of defined and undulating forms in sculpture, is very distinctive of Amarna. We chose Italian Nappa leather for the surfaces, exotic woods like Olivewood and Mahogany for the handles. We also developed custom resins that mimic precious and ancient materials such as Malachite and Carnelian.
Your main muse for the collection?
Nefertiti. She is the ultimate archetype for a complete woman! And she is still being referenced and hailed in popular culture till this day. She was obviously very beautiful, but more importantly she was extremely influential, co-ruling Egypt with her husband Akhenaten in what seemed to be one of the most difficult yet most interesting periods in Egypt’s ancient history. There is so much mystery and excitement surrounding this woman. Yet there is very little left behind to get to know who she really was. There are only fragments and the infamous bust sculpture by Thutmose currently at the Berlin’s Neus museum.
Who do you see wearing your bags?
The Sabry Marouf woman is definitely a woman whose known to make a difference in whatever she sets her mind to.
Is there any piece you would call your favourite?
Doubt it. There are only four models in the Amarna collection and each one has taken so much development that we’ve formed a special connection to each piece. But it did all begin with the King TUT bag, inspired by the infamous boy king who was raised by Nefertiti – so it does hold a special place in our hearts!
Any exciting plans for the future of the brand?
Yes! There’s so much happening, but we do like to surprise.
Scroll through the Amarna collection available for pre-orders exclusively at Sabry Marouf