There is no such job as “Spreading Beauty”, said her Unilever manager when she resigned. I believe there is, only it doesn’t have a name yet, said Shosha, while deciding to quit a safe marketer job, only to study at Florence Design Academy and pursue a career in design.
Since her youth, she was good with people and had a taste for the world’s cultures, so her father used to joke that she will probably become the first female minister of foreign affairs. Smiles aside, Shosha’s career sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy, since her studio won 5 major international awards in its first 5 years of existence, representing contemporary Egyptian talent on the world stages.
Inspired by the Iraki born architect Zaha Hadid and her life story as a Middle Eastern woman making it internationally, Shosha has opted for design as a medium to heal humanity, to build significant bridges between cultures and, using contemporary twists, to save from oblivion Egyptian ancient heritage while making it part of people’s lives.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Adding value to humanity, designing something that people will connect and have a certain chemistry with.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
My dad encouraged me to draw from an early age. As soon as I was done, he would frame those sketches and exhibit them on the walls at work.
He is a politician and in his office used to come very important people. In the middle of this serious context, visitors would discover those childish art experiments. It wasn’t a common practice, but by doing so, he gave me this self-confidence that I have now and I am very grateful for it.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
Inspiration can come from the weirdest places – even from the trash. You just need to look, observe and feel and you will find it wherever you search, even in the weirdest places, not necessarily in traditionally beautiful things. Beauty is everywhere, you just need to wear the proper lenses to spot it.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
Designing in the desert, in front of the Sinai Mountains, the Reviving Humanity Memorial for the World Youth Forum in 2018 and later on, the sculptural arch leading to the memorial and introducing the visitors in the mood and the metaphor of the place.
The installation was dedicated to the people we lost in every single attack on humanity imaginable – be it wars, immigration gone bad or terrorism. The memorial is designed to unite the whole world in a mission to revive our long forgotten humanity.
Whenever there is an attack on humanity, we are losing a bit of our hearts and this insight served as inspiration for the 72 artists invited from around the world to translate their emotions into a sculpture on the theme, using different materials and techniques. Inspired by anatomic features, this design stands as a reminder for the world that despite the differences between us, we all have the same beating heart and we can all collaborate in doing something for humanity.
The Arch leading to the memorial was created using numbers and data collected from all the dramatic attacks on human lives everywhere in the world, in modern times. The lights appearing on the installation are metaphorically capturing the energy of the souls lost in different parts of the world.
The Reviving Humanity Memorial was celebrated in the international media in more than 27 outlets and it was for the first time since the Revolution in 2011 when they were not talking about Egypt in the negative sense.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
After my pharaonic inspired furniture collection was awarded internationally, The Ministry of Antiquity invited me to redesign all the touristic experiences in the UNESCO heritage sites in Egypt, including sunshades, seating areas, signage and street lamps.
The sunshades placed in front of the ancient temples became viral, with tourists from all across the world interacting with the installations and sharing the experience on social media. Called The Sun talks the designs were created as an homage to the temple creators. At 12, each day, one could read the history of the place as projected on the ground, while the light was filtered through the text forged within the shade’s metal.
Designing in front of a temple is a very humbling experience for any contemporary creator, so you need to be modest and silent. This is the reason why we decided to have the smallest intervention possible and let the sun do the talking.
Tourists were crazy about it. They loved letting the letters being “printed” on their bodies. Everything became a personal and immersive experience. When I was in Aswan a year after the project was finished, tourists were constantly asking to take pictures together, as the creator of the project.
THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS
Design, beauty and creativity are part of the Egyptians’ DNA. It is an innate gift. We have been raised among temples and amazing architecture. We have been visiting museums and discovered artifacts from a very early age. It is natural to foster, appreciate, praise art and become a creativity source in such conditions.
BEST STATEMENT OF EGYPTIAN HUMOR
It is all around the place.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
Whatever you will find here is unique and iconic. The layers of culture we have been exposed to, even the layer of ugliness that took over for a while, had a huge impact. You will find rich talents no matter the discipline – be it arts, literature, music or cinema. It’s rare to get this mix from everywhere else.
BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
Old Cairo – the complex of religions. You will find there Coptic and early Christian churches, next to a Jewish temple next to a mosque. It is one of the most spiritual places in Egypt and a territory where spirituality, no matter the expression, is freely celebrated.
BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
It is hard to pick between Luxor and Sinai. The amount of energy you get while at the Luxor Temple is enormous. In Sinai, I have a soft spot for the mountain in front of which The Revival Monument was placed. It is such an incredible connection, almost romantic. People starting at some point to make jokes about my love affair with the mountain.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
That we are commuting on camels.
EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
Anything that will make you connect with your inner soul. It’s important to cultivate that. Design to me is a very spiritual experience, from the very beginning to the very end of a given project. Creating is a spiritual journey. The more you are into it, the more you give back to the world.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Money should not drive you, but it will always remain something necessary. One should never treat it as a goal, always a consequence. Although important, money should never be a decision-driver.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
Do your best to cultivate a sort of mindfulness, by being aware of your surroundings and spotting beauty in the less expected places. Pay attention to every mundane detail, from a car in traffic or the garbage. If you are looking for inspiration, you need to pay attention.
This article has been published on Shosha’s birthday so we want to celebrate and wish her a day as wonderful as her art! Check out more about her work here.