From Sandbox to GFF: Studio Être is Fuelling Festival Design

We speak to the talent behind Studio Etre to discover how they've designed the setup for El Gouna Film Festival, a venue that demands equal parts star power and practicality.

By Karim Abdullatif

04/11/2021
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El Gouna Film Festival is the kind of event that demands a setup that is simultaneously iconic and functional - easier said than done, by all means. The setup must reflect the film festival’s regional and international star power, while taking into consideration the city of El Gouna’s distinct architecture. It needs to stand out, but not stick out. Having worked in El Gouna for most of their existence, Studio Etre is uniquely qualified to design the film festival’s setup - a challenge they have undertaken for the past two years.


Founded in 2017, Studio Etre established themselves by designing the setup for Sandbox, El Gouna’s famous electronic music festival. Prior to the 2020 edition of El Gouna Film Festival, Studio Etre was invited to pitch a concept for the venue’s design.


“We were cautious as it was our first time, so we kept it simple and functional,”  Founder Ahmed Hani tells #SceneHome. In awe at the venue’s architectural scale, he opted for a harmonious and neat design, using rippling waves installed at the gates, and a stage flanked by inverted arches. “We avoided patterns, focusing instead on geometry and colours.” It was a pitch that resonated with the event organisers and earned Studio Etre the win. One which they would soon repeat the following year, with a design that built upon the foundations of the first.


“This year we were more playful, engaging with the venue’s architecture by repurposing its design elements,” Hani explains. On stage, cone-shaped installations bring out the patterns within the colonnades, and mirror cladding create visual distortions through a ribbing effect which canvases the main heading ‘El Gouna Film Festival’. In line with the general theme of reflection and refraction of light, Hani installed mirrors on the perimeter of the venue, reflecting its architecture on the artificial lagoon in an attempt to extend its grandeur.


“Circulation is one of the things which we improved this year,” Hani says. As guests entered through an ethereal, open bridge, they were embraced with the splendour of the red carpet. The path led them towards the interview area and the foyer, and ensured a continuous smooth flow throughout the venue, guided by even more fixed mirrors framed with warm lighting.


“It’s an accumulated experience,” Hani says. “We would like to continue designing for this event and continuously improve year after year.”

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