Being a product designer is really awesome, being a product designer in Egypt is even better! Let me tell you why.
But first a quick disclaimer: this is not advice by any means, if you want to start your design career somewhere else it would be an incredible opportunity, I'd try my luck myself! This is my thoughts for designers who want to start in Egypt, but staying here just makes them want to blow their brains out.
Now that this is out of the way, why is being a product designer in Egypt a blessing in disguise?
We can’t compare Egypt to any other country, it's apples and oranges really. And that's the first mistake we do. I love how Deyan Sudjic director of Design Museum defines design:
"Design is a reflection of our economic systems, and of the technology that we have to work with. It's a kind of language, and it's a reflection of emotional and cultural values." Deyan Sudjic
Yes the design scene elsewhere might be a million times better, I’d be a fool if I said otherwise. Yet we have something in Egypt that makes it a far better place for any designer; nothing. We have nothing!
There is plenty of room for new things in Egypt! Some clever young designers are already starting to embrace this and are coming up with new production methods, new materials, introducing new design styles or even taking design curation to a whole new level!
Designers are all about new. And Egypt needs new like no other time.
Take for example the most common design field for product designers in Egypt; Furniture Design. We widely follow only two main design styles: Classic and Modern styles. Though these are known to be very general design styles which developed into many different styles categorised underneath. In Egypt classic or antique is simply defined as anything old and gold, we thank the french for that! And modern is simply anything other than classic. Not forgetting a sub category for modern: contemporary design, which in our definition is any “modern” furniture in gold or silver colours. Regardless of this catastrophic comprehension of design history, if you think about it, this is a very limited range of design styles on the market. Why not introduce raw furniture! I do believe that the market is waiting for it, not the industrial look in particular, but diversity.
In a nutshell, it could be history somewhere else but news in Egypt. The only problem with this is that we should not repeat history and its mistakes! The term Design itself is being constantly redefined, with emerging fields like service design or experience design, today what we consider product design to be is completely different than what it was 20 years ago.
For those who dislike Furniture Design like moi, it would be naive to say that we don’t produce anything here, we do. We don’t produce everything but we have a lot of products either being exported, very industrial in nature or disguised under crafts. The only difference is that we make products and not design them. It’s a very foreign yet very familiar field for designers. And that alone is a huge area to address.
I do believe that we have plenty of opportunities in Egypt, lots and lots of problems that we can transform into growing business ideas while having little or even no competition at all! So why isn’t product design booming? Why are there still people from my friends and your friends –if you are also a designer- who have no idea what a product designer does? Why aren't we finding our dream job?
In a perfect world i'd have all the answers for you, but unfortunately this is not a blog of a designer who has it all figured out. Did i bum you out? I am pretty bummed out about it too! Buuut I think I can pinpoint part of the problem, so make sure to follow along!
Can you relate to this? Comment down below and let me know. It would be nice to know that I am not the only confused designer roaming the streets of Cairo!