photography by ahmed ehab

designed: 2014 by ramzi makram-ebeid

This staircase was designed in two minutes in the middle of the Ezbet Belal, a salvage yard in Cairo.  I had spent hours sketching other ideas before our visit, but nothing was the right fit for my soon to be married clients.

Like a lot of couples, they had different design sensibilities and taste. The husband wanted something modern and funky that used glass, while his wife wanted a contemporary take on a traditional wooden staircase. After numerous design attempts, I decided for us to go to Ezbet Belal and find a shared inspiration there.

Upon seeing the mashrabia, something in the three of us finally clicked; I could incorporate both wood and glass to create something contemporary and edgy. The beautiful intricaticity of the mashrabia is traditional but also funky and by removing the frame there became numerous details to play with.  To give the stairs a salvaged effect, the pieces were placed. Furthermore, the pieces were all lightly sandblasted to remove the old paint and bring back its weathered look.

The simple lines of the balusters and handrail give the staircase a contemporary feel. Using the same wood as the mashrabia, I created balusters composed of two supports holding three to four mashrabia pieces each. The glass inserts render the staircase less wood heavy, while the break between balusters allows the mashrabia pieces to stand out. Moreover, the glass balanced the modern aspects of the handrail and balusters.   In contrast to the mashrabia pieces, the handrail and balusters have a lite gloss finish and are sanded smooth.