Mamluks Made Modern: When Design Meets History

November 29, 2020 1PM ET/ 8PM EET

(Registration form located at the bottom of this page)


Azza Fahmy: Chairwoman and Creative Director at Azza Fahmy Jewellery and 

Omniya Abdel Barr: Barakat Trust Fellow, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

Info about the Lecture:

The Mamluks ruled over Egypt and Syria from 1250 to 1517, building a multitude of monuments with unabashed vigour through all crises, especially in their capital. Many of the arts and crafts were the pride of Cairo’s markets. Today, this cultural heritage represents an integral part of Cairo’s living memory.

The Mamluk ruling elite played a major role as investors and patrons which reflected on their architecture as well as their arts and crafts. A variety of novel styles appeared with unprecedented design and decoration. To celebrate the Mamluks and their legacy, Azza Fahmy designed her 2019 jewellery collection in the Mamluk style, as an homage to this rich heritage.

In this talk Azza Fahmy and Omniya Abdel Barr will discuss their collaboration in giving Mamluk architecture an new dimension and glamour. Join us as they discuss their design process and learn how they married history with jewellery in this exciting modern collection. Learn how their artistic work seeks to reconnect the public to this rich and unique cultural heritage, while shining a spotlight on threatened Malmuk architecture.

About Azza Fahmy: 

Fahmy is a researcher, author, and jewelry designer who is the Chairwoman and Creative Director at “Azza Fahmy Jewellery”. She graduated from the Fine Arts, where she studied Interior Design, then she started her career at the State Information Service. Simultaneously, she initiated her apprenticeship in jewelry, training with the master craftsmen of Khan al- Khalili. Later, she pursued her studies in jewelry making and design at London Polytechnic. Throughout her long career spanning over fifty years, she has extensively travelled in Egypt and abroad to better understand and research traditional jewelry and cultural heritage. 

Today, Azza Fahmy is considered one of the top jewelry designers in the MENA region, and has taken the role of translating Egypt’s culture,  heritage, and art to the world, through contemporary jewelry design that reflects both her intense research approach and craftsmanship preservation. She created the first Egyptian multinational brand in jewelry in partnership with her daughters. In 2015, she independently funded and established the “Design Studio by Azza Fahmy” (DSAF), the first design education hub of its kind in the region. Last year, she launched a vocational training in jewelry making with funding from DROSOS to train 200 young apprentices and ensure the sustainability of the craftsmanship in Egypt. She is the author of “Enchanted Jewelry of Egypt” and “The traditional Jewelry of Egypt”. 

About Omniya Abdel Barr:

Abdel Barr is an architect and art historian specialized in Islamic art and architecture. She has experience in urban conservation, monument restoration, and cultural heritage documentation and digitization. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Aix-Marseille University (2015), an MSc in Conservation from Raymond Lemaire Center in KUL (2004), and a BSc in Architecture from the Fine Arts of Helwan University (2000). 

Omniya is currently the Barakat Trust Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, leading the digitization project on K.A.C. Creswell’s photographic collections, in partnership with the American University in Cairo, the Ashmolean Museum, and Harvard University. In Cairo, she is working with the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation on projects dedicated to rescue Cairo’s Mamluk architectural heritage and the preservation of traditional craftsmanship. 

Registration will close 24 hours before the lecture starts. Registration does not include any future lectures in this series.