Is internationally recognized as the world’s pre-eminent designer in the Islamic tradition. For over 30 years her work has been featured in royal palaces, private mansions, public buildings, mosques, parks, hotels and resorts throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in Europe and North America. Her catalogue includes thousands of original designs inspired by traditional work from the Arab and Islamic world and beyond. Although famed for her lighting solutions and metal work, her design work and production covers a wide range of media, including glass, ceramics, wood, stone and fabric. Her catalogue of work includes many thousands of designs.
Randa Fahmy Design was established in 1978 and has grown into a leader in fine ornamental design and production. Founder and master designer Randa Fahmy leads a team of over 60 artisans, designers and technicians working from studios in Cairo and her factory in Six October City.
- In 1975 I began to study traditional Mamluk metalwork design. This was an outgrowth of my studies with Egypt’s greatest living painter, Hasan Soliman, who awakened in me the love of traditional Islamic art. I spent two years studying the designs of lanterns and chandeliers on display in some of Cairo’s museums and old houses. Gradually I was completely drawn in to the world of traditional Islamic metalwork. I deconstructed these great works of art and recreated each piece according to the original canons of design.
- My first exhibition of 30 different traditional chandeliers and lanterns based on 18th and 19th century prototypes was held at the French Cultural Center in 1977. The timing was fortuitous because the oil boom of the 1970s fueled a building boom throughout the Gulf States. My exhibition was attended by many of the young architects who were designing palaces in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. They were looking for lighting solutions. My first exhibition turned an artistic experiment into a business. This first experience formed the foundation of what has become an international design and manufacturing enterprise.
- During the early 1980s I launched two enterprises. The first was the foundation in 1981 of Al Ain Gallery in partnership with my sister, the jeweler Azza Fahmy, and architect and woodworker Nabil Ghali to showcase our work. Al Ain Gallery has become a landmark and institution in Cairo as a repository of fine contemporary traditional design. The second enterprise was the establishment of Randa Fahmy Workshops in 1983. Located in the district of Bulak Dakrur, the workshops were spread along two streets and encompassed almost every metal working process.
- In the 1990s Randa Fahmy Design began handling larger scale projects, creating extensive design work for hospitality and other public projects including Sofitel, Sonesta, Meridien and Four Seasons Resorts in Sharm El Sheikh, Azhar Park and Ashraf Building in Cairo, Madinat Jumeirah and the Ismaili Centre in Dubai, the Movenpick Resort in Gaza, Palestine and many other projects throughout the Arab world and beyond. In 2004 we consolidated all our manufacturing operations in a 6,000 m² factory, located at Six October City Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Cairo. The new factory has dramatically expanded our capacity and has been designed to include a serial production line and will include production lines for multiple media.
- Today Randa Fahmy Design has become a global brand. on Today Randa Fahmy Design has become an international design I am in the process of building a factory, which will include a serial production line and advanced laser and water-jet technologies so that I can continue to handle large scale projects and meet market demands. My aim is to bring great design to every aspect of a project and to do that I have to create cost-effective solutions. At the same time I am diversifying my design work away from strictly traditional Arab and Islamic work and away from the lighting solutions for which I am best known.
- Islamic design is incredibly challenging and complex. It demands an understanding of proportion, form and ornament in equal parts. If you master Islamic design you can work in almost any other style. I have worked extensively with Western designers. They are incredibly gifted in terms of working with spatial designs and forms but whenever they try working in an Islamic style, they get lost. They don’t understand the relationship between proportion and ornament.
- As designers in the Arab world you see traces of Islamic design all around you, in signage, logos, calligraphy, on public buildings, in mosques, in homes, in fabric and furniture. Yet very little is good. Why? It is because the designers who use Islamic elements haven’t learned the traditional canons. They pull a fragment of an arabesque or a Saracenic arch out of context to use as a design feature with little understanding of why and how these designs were used in the first place and where they originated.
- I believe that there should be a synthesis of Islamic and other forms of design but in order to create something of beauty you have to synthesize forms with a deep understanding of both styles. The reason so much of what passes as Islamic design is bad is that it is made without a deep understanding of these vital aspects of form, proportion and ornament.
- A student and protégé of the great Egyptian painter Hasan Soliman, who awakened her interested in traditional Egyptian and Islamic form and ornament, Randa embarked on an intensive two-year study of classical Mamluki metalwork that resulted in her first exhibition at the French Cultural Center in Cairo in 1977. The exhibition, which featured ?? prototype lighting fixtures, immediately resulted in commissions by architects designing palaces in the newly oil-rich Arab Gulf states.
- In 1981 Randa Fahmy opened Al Ain Gallery in Cairo in partnership with her sister, the internationally acclaimed jeweler Azza Fahmy and architect Nabil Ghali. Al Ain Gallery has become a Cairo institution and draws customers from around the world. Over the years her work has been displayed in galleries and showrooms around the world, including Harrods of Knightsbridge in London, Institute du Monde Al Arab in Paris and throughout the Arab world.
- In 1983 Randa Fahmy registered a series of workshops for the production of metal in the district of Bulak Dakroor in Cairo. The workshops comprised the one of the largest metalworking operations in the Arab world.
- In 2002 Randa Fahmy began building a factory installation in 6 October Industrial City on the outskirts of Cairo.
- The first phase of the factory was inaugurated in 2009 with a shop floor area of
- In Egypt her work is prominent in a wide range of prestigious projects, including Sayyida Nafisa Mosque, the Ashraf Building, Azhar Park, Semiramis Intercontinental, Sofitel Sharm El Sheikh, Sonesta Sharm El Sheikh, Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh and Port Ghalib Resort, among many others. In Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, her work can be found in royal palaces, mosques and private residences. In the UAE, she has completed extensive work on Mina Al Salaam and Al Qasr Hotels in Madinat Jumeirah, as well as in the Ismaili Centre, the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and in Sheikh Hamdan Mosque. She has collaborated with some of the world’s leading architects, including Peter Marino, Michael Graves, Rassam Badran and Abdul Wahed El Wakil.
- Randa Fahmy’s factory on the outskirts of Cairo is the region’s largest production facility for the manufacture of traditional architectural fittings and furnishings with the capacity for large-scale serial production.
A new departure in the coming year will be the launch of Randa Fahmy Home in the Designopolis complex on the Alexandria Road in Cairo. Randa Fahmy Home will feature an entirely new range of signature furniture and accessories for the home.
Our belief is that great design is based on a profound understanding of form and ornament. Nowhere are these fundamentals more elegantly and intricately integrated than in Islamic design, which has absorbed and assimilated the arts of Byzantium, Persia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the Far East. In Islamic art form must be functional and this is why Islamic art reached its highest form in architecture, lighting and carpet-making. The intricacies of ornament, the elegant and magisterial forms and sublime geometric proportions of Islamic art have informed the designs of Randa Fahmy for 30 years. A mastery of these classical forms has allowed the artist to transcend her roots and work across a multiplicity of genres and motifs from rococo to minimalist. Her mastery of form and ornament has allowed Randa Fahmy to continuously develop and diversify her work as an artist and designer.