Sometimes, describing the spatial politics of a city requires to holistically consider its history and geography. Some other times, we may decide to explore a city’s sociality through one of its objects in particular. This is what we do in this conversation with Manar Moursi about her project with David Puig, “Sidewalk Salon.” This particular object is the street chair of Cairo that populates its streets in various forms and involves various forms of politics. In this regard, we focus on the gender aspect of the street chair’s use, as well as the territoriality it implies. The final part of the discussion examines the high degree of creativity involved in the repair of a chair and its gradual hybridization. Nb: the book that documents the Sidewalk Salon is currently in its last days of funding through indiegogo, you can contribute and maybe pre-order a copy to support the project.
Manar M.’s work spans the fields of architecture, urbanism, design and art. In 2011 she founded Studio Meem, an interdisciplinary design studio based in Cairo focusing on articulating the specificity of the local ecology and the rich cultural heritage of the region through a contemporary voice. Since its foundation, Studio Meem has collaborated with a vast network of artisans, artists and landscape designers, with the conviction that dialogue and cooperation enhances creative possibilities.
– Naguib Mahfouz, Midaq Alley, trans. Trevor Le Gassick, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 1975.
– Yussuf Idris, “The chair carrier,” Homecoming, Sixty Years of Egyptian Short Stories, ed. and trans. Denys Johnson–Davies, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2012, 194-198.
– Galen Cranz, The Chair, Rethinking Culture, Body and Design, New York: Norton, 2000.
– David Sims, “Understanding Cairo’s Informal Development,” Learning from Cairo. Global Perspectives and Future Visions, ed. Beth Stryker, Omar Nagati and Magda Mostafa, Cairo: Cluster and The American University in Cairo, 2013.
– Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem, “The practice of home in Old Cairo: Towards Socio-Spatial Models of Sustainable Living,”TDSR Volume XXIII Number II (2012).
– Preview of the book Sidewalk Salon by Manar Moursi and David Puig: