Dalia Sadany, the famous Egyptian architect.
Dalia Sadany is an architect who graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University, Department of Architecture and studied in Italy.
“I am not only specialized in one area of design, but also I work in architecture, interiors, lighting, furniture and everything related to design. I’m learning from craftsmen, love raw materials, and handmade crafts, even if it was tired,” says Dalia Sadany in an interview with the magazine.
- Egypt is origin of architecture and history is full of heritage.
- My ranking rose to 12 out of the top 100 designers worldwide.
- Architecture is a mirror of era of time and I feel jealous if I see an Egyptian artifact outside.
- Egyptians are “professional” in everything but they need an opportunity.
- I felt great for designing Tahrir Square.
- Combination of traditional heritage and modern designs is the mystery of Italians impress with my designs.
- I adore craftsmanship and handmade works.
How did you join contracting sector and then interior designs despite its difficulty?
Design is schools and I follow the old school, the basis of architecture, which was implementing ancient temples and others. In this school, designer is the operator and has a craft and may be a sculptor for example. This school continued for thousands of years until 1800. After that, another school has emerged in which architecture and implementation were separated until problems arise between the designer and the operator since then the function of the project manager were emerged to solve the problems between the designer and the operator.
This school proved its failure and designers had to go back to the first school, which believes that the designer is the operator. Therefore, the old school is my school in my work whether with a person or a company.
You are ranked among the top 100 designers in the world. How did you reach this rank?
I have been ranked internationally from more than one entity. Moreover, I had never thought of joining international ranking competitions as a well-known figure. I could have settled in Italy, but after my return to Egypt I decided to live there since 2011. There are many outstanding architects in Egypt, but I was the fastest in winning several consecutive awards from more than one institution.
By chance, while I was traveling outside Egypt, I heard about an entity that organizes prizes that are concerned with the ranking and everything related to design and the maximum limit was 4 days. More than 10,000 designers, consultancy offices and large entities participate in competition of such entity annually. I came in with a simple design, a table shaped like a wabour [Stove Gas], designed from modern materials. The year after that I joined the competition with architecture, interiors design and rawnaq furniture design. I won the three awards, amid the lack of any Arab designers except Qatar and Iraq. After winning the three awards, I believed that Egyptian presence in such competitions is important and this is why I founded an institution to serve and support designers.
Through media I managed to spot the light on importance of participation in international competitions for designers, consequently, 9 Egyptians participated in this competition, and hence the Egyptians began to join all competitions clearly.
But there is a problem existed that we do not highlight successful designers only after being honored from abroad, at the time that the participation in international competitions cost is not less than € 500 and all designers are not able to participate. I believe that there must be a role of scientific research and institutions to support talented young people in architecture, because the lack of competition kills creativity and development, and many architects work in Gulf countries because they are professional but we are not on the map of international designers. Egyptians are “professional” in everything, whether photography or architecture but they need an opportunity.
I have participated in several competitions with seven projects include designing for Tahrir Square, an architectural project to treat the roofs of buildings because I was very upset by the shape of the surfaces, which are “ugly” and wanted to change this, therefore, I designed this project. I got gold, platinum and other prizes, thus my rank has jumped from 25 to 12 in the world.
Tell us more about what’s going on in your mind when doing any design.
I like to work on design with handcraft because I see it began to disappear, moreover, it cannot be imitated because the Chinese and Turks are more capable of imitation and its techniques. Modern designs cannot be innovated, but Egyptian designers have a rich history. Egypt has gone through a lot of times, and Egypt has a deep personality. We cannot say that there are no ideas or design, but we have a full heritage that can be worked on through the heritage giving and the rich history to come up with great ideas.
Please tell us more about ASDA Sustainable Development Association.
It is an Egyptian institution, which I’m founding chairman, and it is related to design, creativity and the association concerned with the idea of youth and their role, as well as, connect between young people and adults. The association has 3 initiatives – Face of Egypt, Future of Young Egyptians (FYE) and Cairo Design Biennale. Face of Egypt project is designed for the development of Egypt’s squares.
In cooperation with International Association of Designers (IAD) headquartered in Como Italy, which I’m presiding President , ASDA held a joint event to honor the Egyptian design innovators Hassan Fathy, Shadi Abdel Salam and Azza Fahmy, as well as, we honored the companies of Oriental weavers and Al-Jawhara Group because they are based on the principle of design. The event was held in the presence of a number of Italians to honor the Egyptians and under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism.
What is your opinion regarding the designing and location of the New Administrative Capital?
The government’s orientation to develop new cities is very properly because we still live on only 8% of the total area of Egypt and this is a schematic error. I would prefer to have its location on the west side, because the urban crawl will make the administrative capital an extension of Cairo not an independent city. We studied in the urban planning that it when planning a new city must be away from the existing city 250 km. it is possible that the state has a strategy in choosing this site, and may be a solution to the problem of administrative centralization.
Why did not the state use Egyptian architects to develop the Maspero Triangle?
It is very sad not to make use of the Egyptian architects. By the way, during my arbitration of graduate’s projects of the Department of Architecture at Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, I encountered a project on the development of the Maspero Triangle in 2015. The project was more than wonderful and did not receive attention, as the graduates’ projects did not receive enough attention.
Speaking about the creativity of talented students in the field of architecture. Have you called for the support of talented young people?
We have 16 and 17-year-olds genius youth but they need an opportunity, but we have to highlight young people and scientific research.
The Bank of Ideas was a wonderful initiative for supporting young people, but it did not continue. It is necessary to get out of the idea of support, appreciation and recognition to providing real jobs for those talented youth, as their requirements are very simple.
How did flotation of Egyptian pound affect the field of architecture and design?
Flotation has a significant effect on all sectors especially on the real estate investment sector and related sectors of nearly 151 fields such as steel, cement and others. I pity the customers because the cost of finishing the apartment has become very expensive. However, one of the flotation advantages is that it completely eliminated the black market for many products.
What is the secret of foreigners’ impress, especially Italians, with the designs of Dalia Sadany?
Italians and foreigners generally see that I mix old and modern heritage. The Italians are very interested in and love the Egyptian heritage. I am against the export of heritage as it is. I am mixing heritage and modernity to satisfy the international tastes, and because we are in a country that is not weak, the design cannot be weak.
When I made a design for Tahrir Square I felt great, so I wanted to produce a design worthy of the historical value of Tahrir Square . Consequently, the world is impressed with my designs due to sticking to the great Egyptian heritage and mixing it with the modern designs.
How do you see the Gulf architecture compared to Egyptian one?
The Gulf has built architecture to attract tourism as Dubai did. Architecture is a mirror of the era of time. It is evidence of prosperity or collapse. It is the present era, and the Gulf region is more interested in architecture than Egypt.
What are your current projects?
I work on the design of several companies and residential activities work, nevertheless, I work heavily on design more companies whether inside or outside Egypt.
What do you aspire to?
To continue to do what I like, because I love hardship and I choose my projects and customers.
Further, approaching the phase of selecting my clients and projects is a wonderful stage for more creativity. I hope to do something to commemorate the name of Dalia Sadany.
During a lecture I gave at Alexandria University, one of the students asked me, “Is it possible to become like you” I was annoyed by his question and replied: “You can be better than me”.
Young people have to find ideal persons close to them.
What message would you like to give students and young people in architecture and design?
You have to work hard and sacrifice to reach, because no one succeeds in a vacuum, I work hard since more than 22 years, and I advise them not to be employees, because creative person cannot deal with his creativity as a job. If you do not like you career leave it immediately. I am grateful because I work in my field of talent, and I will make a campaign by the end of the current year in schools to teach parents to let her son or daughter to join the college he or she loves. There is no summit college but culture is the summit.