RANDA FAHMY — MASTER METALSMITH AND LIGHTING DESIGNER
DECEMBER 18, 2013
Randa Fahmy is widely considered to be the world’s pre-eminent designer of Islamic metalwork and one of the finest lighting designers in the Arab world. She is the first contemporary designer of metalwork to master the traditional canons of the craft and recreate the proportions and detail that brought Islamic metalwork to its glory.
Ms. Fahmy was born in Suhaaj, Egypt in 1951 and graduated with honours from the School of Art at ::I University in Zamalek, Cairo. A protege of the great Egyptian painter ::I, she became intrigued with traditional forms in old Cairo and embarked on a two year intensive study of Islamic metalwork, analyzing the proportions and structural composition of the finest examples of metalwork from the golden age of Islamic craftsmanship.
After apprenticing with metalsmiths at the Khan El Khalili, she realized that the art of fine metalwork had been lost. She systematically recreated the great masterpieces that remain in collections and museums and learned the canons of craftsmanship.
Her first exhibition of Islamic metalwork was held in 1978 and resulted in commissions from leading architects in the Arab world to design lighting and decorative metalwork for palaces, mosques, hotels, resorts and private homes throughout the Arab world.
In 1981 she co-founded Al Ain Gallery in Duqqi, Cairo, with her sister Azza Fahmy, Egypt’s finest designer of traditional jewelry. Since then Al Ain Gallery has become an institution in Cairo and a must for visitors seeking the finest of Egyptian craftsmanship. In 1982 Ms. Fahmy expanded her atelier into the largest metalsmithing workshop in Egypt and is presently constructing a factory in the 26 October industrial city on the outskirts of Cairo. Randa and her sister Azza employ and train many women in the traditional crafts.
Randa Fahmy continues to give exhibitions throughout the world and has created and re-created hundreds of designs from the Islamic tradition. She has recently completed the decorative lighting for the Sonesta Resort at Sharm El Sheikh and has begun work on an adjacent resort in Sharm designed by the architect Nabil Ghali and owned by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan An-Nahayyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Ms. Fahmy has worked with most of the greatest traditional architects in the Arab world, including the late ::I, Abdel Wahid El Wakil and Rassam Badran. She was chosen to design the lighting for the Aga Khan Awards ceremony held at the Citadel in Cairo in 1989.
Her international clients include Queen Noor of Jordan, Madame Jihan Sadat, UN Secretary General ::I the late singing legend Mohamed Abdul Wahab, Egyptian actors Faten Hamama and Noor Sharif, Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, Sultan Qaboos of Oman and the royal families of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
Over the years Ms. Fahmy has expanded her traditional design vocabulary to encompass Syrian, Ottoman, Moroccan, Arab, Indian and Southeast Asian forms. Her work graces royal palaces, resorts and ordinary households throughout the Arab world, Europe and America and is on display in some of the world’s most prestigious showrooms and galleries.