In preparation for the project “Furniture Design: Economic Empowerment trough Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs)”, where Danish furniture designers and Egyptian producers and craftsmen shall meet in an attempt to share ideas and develop the two traditions of furniture making, DEDI visited Damietta (Dumiat) – a city situated on the north coast of Egypt where the eastern branch of the Nile enters the Mediterranean.
The city of Damietta has historically been – and is still today – the center of furniture production in Egypt. It has 35,000 registered workshops producing parts of furniture, furniture or articles for interior decoration.
Most businesses are small one-man or family business, where the workshop is on the ground floor of the house and the family lives above.
Today some dozens of larger modern factories have been opened – mostly by local families versed in the tradition of the craftsmen.
Egypt produces very little wood suitable for buildings and furniture; therefore the import of wood has always been crucial. Timber entered Egypt through the harbors of Rosetta (Rashid) or Damietta (Dumiat) and later through the harbor of Alexandria.
After being loaded on smaller boats it was transported up the Nile to Cairo and beyond. Sometimes wood was transported further by camel – e.g. to the Red Sea port of Suez, for building ships for transport and for pilgrims to Jeddah/Mecca.