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That Really Cool Studio is the Creative Space We Never Knew We Needed

That Really Cool Studio is a new culture space in Zamalek promoting radical collaboration and hosting really cool exhibitions.

A few weeks ago, I was heading to the opening of a really cool studio called That Really Cool Studio nestled somewhere in the colonial comeliness of Zamalek. Looking for the building, my friend and I ran into two bohemian strangers downstairs who saw we were clearly looking for something, "Errr, are you going to that thing", I knew that they knew what I was looking for but I too couldn’t quite explain what it was either "yeah, errr exactly - that thing", they pointed us on our way - but I wasn't sure what to expect. When I recalled my encounter to one of the founders of That Really Cool Studio, Alya Sorour, she beamed, excited about the ambiguity of the space's name finally coming to life, a name that is "simple, self referential in the best way, and is really true to our character as a collective.”

Labeled as a place for collaboration, conversation and design. and founded by childhood friends Sorour, a jack of all trades creative director, and Mohamed (Momo) Shehata, an established architect, That Really Cool Studio is a modular exhibition space for artists and creatives to collaborate and showcase their work. 

The project has been two years in the making since they found the apartment in 4 Omarat Aliamani which was a "charming dump" at first, untouched for 30 years, but with Shehata's architectural vision, the two pulled up their sleeves, hustled, raised money, invested their own savings and on March 3rd finally opened up its doors, hosting three days of 'Shablona', the hard-to-describe-to-a-stranger-on-the-street interactive gallery/pop-up shop hybrid - a collaborative experience between That Really Cool Studio, local fashion/streetwear brands Rebel Cairo (Dara Hassenein) and UNTY (Omar Mobarak) and artist Youssef Sabry (Youssef Sabry) with a focus on print and design culture. 

Upon entering and seeing the space - with it’s eccentric displays, high ceilings and renovated colonial balcony-cum-bridge, the first thing that I thought was wow this place is actually really f***ing cool, secondly this place is packed, since when did Egyptians become obsessed with buying stencils? Of course, it wasn't about the stencils, or about the Risograph printing section, or the awesome UNTY x RebelCairo winter capsule collection or Sabry’s quirky live portraits, the crowd was there because it was something fresh, they were there to see the magic and energy of this collaboration come to life. “We were all blown away by the turn out and the support” Sorour told #CairoScene, “it’s proof of concept, the thirst and hunger for a place to connect and collaborate with really cool people IS REAL”.

“A creative economy isn’t the amount of creative initiatives that exist, but rather how they all work together in a system, a grid, an infrastructure, to grow, develop and learn new skills,” Sorour continues, whilst asking herself the key questions that are impacting creatives in Cairo today in order to find more and more purpose for the studio. “How can we be open source and share our skills and not just our talents to be part of a larger, more sustainable and creative network? How can we better understand the modern Cairene identity as millennials, and moreover how can we Cairo-fy it with what we have to say, observe, and the solutions we can find?”

That Really Cool Studio is currently hosting artist residents such marsycreatesthings, thenatwork, Shahd Tarek, Kim Kazandijan, The Beauty Lab, Mena Assad, Radical Contemporary and has pop-up shops, workshops, panels and an online podcast in the works - but whatever they’re experimenting with in the future, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be really cool.

If you’re interested in renting out space as a resident or collaborating DM them @ThatReallyCoolStudio.