Monday July 22nd, 2024
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Yasmina Makram Designs Temple-Like ‘Nakhla’ Jewellery Store at GEM

In the Grand Egyptian Museum, the Cairo-based design studio has wrapped Nakhla’s ancestral jewellery around Queen Nefertiti’s neckline.

Karim Abdullatif

At the Grand Egyptian Museum’s retail pavilion, a bust of Queen Nefertiti sits upon a rough stone pedestal, her obsidian neckline graced by sets of brilliant gold and blue Egyptian jewellery. Feminine and bold, the display helps represent one of the many homegrown brands that had set up shop at the pavilion, serving as exemplars of Egyptian craftsmanship within the walls of the Grand Egyptian Museum. With its temple-like store design, Nakhla - a family-owned heritage jewellery brand - invites visitors to gaze upon their products on Queen Nefertiti’s neckline, before drawing them into a gracefully furnished interior that celebrates ancient Egyptian and Coptic heritage.

Before Nakhla’s second generation of owners were able to set up their new store at the Grand Egyptian Museum, they approached Cairo-based studio Yasmina Makram to help draw the blueprints for its design. The studio was chosen for their renowned ability to seamlessly blend heritage with contemporary aesthetics.

“Our ethos centres around using design to tell compelling stories,” founder and head designer Yasmina Makram tells SceneHome. “Nakhla’s jewellery draws on a strong connection between the family’s Coptic Egyptian designers and their ancestors with pieces handcrafted in avant-garde silhouettes.”

The design studio referenced this history to create the store’s modern perspectives. “We focused on our shared ancient Egyptian and Coptic ancestry to create a unique experience to the space. A sensory experience was achieved through modern lines contrasted with earthy textures and a temple-like ambiance,” Makram explains. “Our approach began by looking at ancient Egyptian architecture. The circulation of temples was our starting point. For a truly convincing experience the design couldn’t be literal. It’s a study in the composition of temples but reimagined for contemporary use.”

The main challenge that faced the designers when attempting to create their desired circulation was how small and angular the space was. “Instead of forcing the design onto the space, we utilised these angularities to create flow between each zone,” Makram says. “The design is the result of a shared vision, which intentionally bows to our shared lineage.”

Throughout the project, it was imperative that design reflected the origins of Nakhla, as its jewellery represents a multi-generational appreciation of Egyptian craftsmanship. “This was achieved through modern lighting techniques that illuminated the bespoke pieces in an exhibitive manner and highlighted the brand’s culture,” Makram says, referring to lighting studio Enlighten’s contribution to the project, powerfully showcasing the pieces.

When it came to displaying Nakhla’s statement pieces, Makram looked to Queen Nefertiti. “The design is an ode to Queen Nefertiti’s neckline, with feminine lines juxtaposed against rough temple stone,” Makram says.

The homage to Nefertiti allows Nakhla to stand out yet its use of natural materials and colours maintain a connection to the wider visual landscape of the museum. Resting in complete harmony with its context, the design offers visitors a spatial experience that complements the immersive awe they experience upon entering the Grand Egyptian Museum.

Photography Credit: Nour El Refai

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