Where else can you pretend you're a custom officer at the Egyptian Airport?
We walked down the alleys of Garden City until we found this cute little Egyptian exhibit space. Well, it’s something between an exhibit space and a boutique. It’s easy to miss (so keep your eyes open) as it’s quite cozy and small, and blends in with the street’s traditional buildings and the gated doorways. But when we saw a woodblock poster outside the store, bearing the words “Branding the City: Cairopolitan” – our curiosity definitely piqued.
I mean, you’ve got to be curious. Branding the city? Who could be so self-assured to be able to capture this whole weird, and volatile city into one small store in a small street in Garden City?
The answer to that begins with a step inside this space where we found an interactive shop full of all things Egyptian from both our present and childhood days. From the old taxi fairs that we saw in cabs before Uber became a thing, to the red bricks we see in half-constructed buildings beyond the 6 October Bridge. There’s even a typical Egyptian meal plastered on the wall; newspapers strewed out with plates of 3eesh balady sandwiches, ready to be eaten.
Except these sandwiches are actually pencil cases.
And the slabs of red brics and taxi fairs are actually tissue boxes.
And kind of like Alice’s Wonderland, nothing is what it seems.
Ahmed Hefnawy, one of the founders of Cairopolitan, has managed to capture Egyptian-ness in everyday items that you can vamp your house or car with. The items displayed work as cute personal merchandise, or quirky gifts for anyone who wants to carry a little piece of home with them—or even as a relic for those too young to have experienced these nostalgic everyday items from our past.
Rather than resorting to traditional ways to celebrate and remember Egypt (take, for instance, a statue of Tutankhamen), Cairopolitan has found ways to make the mundane and ordinary into something exquisitely original.
The store also serves as a great place for a photoshoot, if you’re lacking content for your Instagram account. Take, for instance, this awesome passport booth giving you the feeling that you’re about to leave the country—except the passports scattered on the passport control table are actually diaries that you can jot down your thoughts or travel adventures in.
Hefnawy told us that Cairopolitan, while it looks like a store selling cute merchandise and souvenirs, is actually an exhibition space open for any artist interested in design and creativity. This isn’t only limited to artists, however, but also for writers or anyone with a creative background looking for some publicity.
Their online store is launching this week, where you can view their catalogue featuring their merchandise with the prices.