Eslam & Shereef Abdelhady On Furniture Design, Manufacturing In Egypt, & Long-Term Sustainability
Over the past few decades, the design scene in Egypt has been experiencing a renaissance, the likes of which are rarely seen. Brilliant designers and entities emerged, not only providing excellent services and products to the market but also crafting a legacy and giving birth to a new blend of identities. One company, in particular, has piqued our interest. From having humble beginnings to becoming a household name, the Multi M Group has been redefining and shaking up the business since 1974.
In a rented workshop in East Cairo, Engineers Abdelhady Abdel Moneim and Samy Fahim began a furniture business that would later expand into the ground-breaking Multi M group, which has three subsidiaries Metal-X, Mohm Furniture, and now Aurea. From expanded metal sheets to office and home furniture, Multi-M offers a broad spectrum of products through its companies, which are the niche of the industry world, becoming the best at what it offers.
Multi M, now led by Chairman Eslam Abdelhady, cleared the way for Mohm Furniture, which has Shereef Abdelhady as the CEO. Eng. Abdel Moneim’s legacy lives on through these two brothers, who, quite frankly, are making history. But what exactly is Mohm? Mohm offers inspiring and motivating workspaces that are comfortable, elegant, and inventive.
Each item in Mohm’s collection is made to the highest standards, with the newest state-of-the-art office furniture production technologies to provide a long-lasting and pleasant product. This mastery did not come at an easy price; in fact, it is the result of the cumulative experience of 40 years in the industry, built on a foundation of faith in the Egyptian industry.
We caught up with Eslam and Shereef Abdelhady at The Design Show, which took place from June 2 to 4 at the Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Center. Multi M had two booths there showcasing Mohm’s and Aurea’s products.
Chairman Eslam Abdelhady gave us additional insight into the history and future of the years-old family business.
At the age of nine, Eslam Abdelhady began working in the family business. During summer vacations, his father used to wake him up at 6 a.m. to go to work. The finest detail, he said, was that his father gave him the chance to explore the different aspects of the corporation, starting at Metal X before moving to Mohm.
He then went on to discuss Mohm’s main goal, which is to become the largest furniture producer in the Middle East in the next 10 years. “Innovate or evaporate” is another concept Eslam Abdelhady discussed as he emphasized the need to innovate and create designs that are relevant to stand out and provide new perspectives within the marketplace. With 50 years in this industry, Eslam Abdelhady has claimed that the machinery had to be customer-oriented and flexible in its usage for this success to be consistent. Additionally, he claimed that Aurea’s biggest advantage is how they always try to work with international designers to benefit from their talent and experience. Consequently, He added that this “allowed Aurea to become one of the top entities in furniture design and manufacturing in the country and the region.”
To connect with the international market, Eslam Abdelhady has claimed that in terms of taste, “Mohm and Aurea are defiantly on the top within the international market.” For example, China provides great quantities and Italy fosters incredible designs. However, the identity that was built from the work of Mohm and Aurea is unique and incorporates various visions and perspectives from the international designers that work closely with these entities.
In a comparison between the past and the present, Eslam Abdelhady claimed that “furniture was primitive in the past”, but now there are more options and more elements that can be implemented within the furniture. Wireless charging for example is another feature that can help with customers’ convenience that was new and got implemented into the furniture designs. But, what truly motivates this type of success to become embedded within the entities’ identities? Well, according to Eslam Abdelhady, it’s the need for adapting and innovating to stay relevant and meet the market’s needs.
Building on Eslam Abdelhady’s statements, his brother, Shereef Abdelhady the CEO of Multi M Group, stated that chemistry is crucial for professional success. Shereef Abdelhady’s journey can also be described by hard effort and devotion since he said that he didn’t know much about design or furniture, but he believed in asking for help and collaborating with the best in their domains to contribute value and learn from their perspectives. That’s exactly what he’s aiming for here, to establish himself as a “benchmark” for furniture makers in Egypt, and, perhaps, throughout the region.
His previous experiences, particularly with Italian companies, have provided him with a wealth of knowledge, and he stated: “one of the best things that distinguish Mohm and Aurea is how they maintain contact with expert consultants and foreign designers. As both sides mature and more opportunities arise, they will be able to work on future initiatives.”
Shereef Abdelhady’s voyage was built on his desire to learn more about the industry and interact with other companies and designers in order to expand his business and overcome any limits imposed by the market in the region. This passion is what other companies saw in him and therefore, he was able to create several partnerships and evolve the business into new horizons.
The bright Nikolas Chachamis’ expertise and vision are critical to Mohm’s success. Mohm’s art director was born in Greece in 1956 and graduated from the Polytechnic University of Milan with a degree in Architecture in 1984. After that, he became a member of the Greek Architects Association. He began his career in the field of industrial organizations in Italy in 1987. Following that, he began collaborating with a number of Italian and international companies. His art has been featured in many international magazines and has been presented in exhibitions and trade fairs around the world.
When we met with Chachamis, he said that although he was already well-regarded as an expert, he had to establish his work and showcase how relevant his designs are to the Egyptian market. Once this was achieved, he managed to acquire Mohm’s trust and began the process of creating out-worldly, yet practical designs, fulfilling a market need that was not met before. Chachamis also stated that the evolution of furniture designs has altered dramatically as it has progressed to include various aspects such as leather desks, built-in lighting, etc. and he managed to deliver this in his products, which have put Mohm and Egypt on the map.
He also claimed that people’s tastes have become very similar as part of the “globalization” movement, stating that “through globalization, Everyone has become connected.” Additionally, Chachamis stated that Mohm is a big company with a lot of potential, and the work done in the last 10 years was focused on “becoming a leader in the market, with nothing in the middle of it. This was a goal that we were trying to achieve as it took some time due to the external effects that can’t be controlled.” Finally, Chachamis added that there is one thing left to do, and that was to reach the top position in the markets.
Mohm’s unparalleled success pushed CEO Shereef Abdelhady to envision a home furniture concept that caters to the needs of the Egyptian market. Aurea also cooperated with StudioMEMO, a company founded by architect Maurizio Manzoni to develop innovative design concepts that provide distinctive solutions for contemporary living. StudioMEMO has been collaborating with prominent brands in the industry to create new collections that start with the brand’s philosophy but evolve over time to meet market demands.
Once a rising star in the design scene, and now an established, household name, Mohamed Fares is the chief designer and co-founder of Alchemy Design Studio and founder of mf&associates. He also represented Egypt at the International Young Design Entrepreneur (IYDE) Awards held in London in 2008. Fares is one of the few names behind Egypt’s ongoing paradigm shift in design, pushing limits and creating new concepts.
We spoke with Fares, the art director behind “A Home Within a Home” concept, which is all about openness and freedom. Aurea took this concept and turned it into a living, breathing reality in a manifestation that was quite evident in their free-flowing booth design, which portrayed how living areas do not have to be confined to one space as it brings diverse aspects to make the area feel like one big room with changing perspectives.
Fares continued to explain how his collaboration with Aurea is a concept that allows clients to select all the materials from the leather to the stitching. Evidently, the brand gained a significant competitive advantage, allowing more consumers to create their own design elements, giving an impression that as a homeowner you can customize every detail of the project.
When asked how he felt about working with a brand that adds value to the marketplace rather than merely adding itself to the existing marketplace. “Now, as designers, we have the opportunity to show the responsibility of creating our own products here in Egypt and showcasing them to the world,” Fares stated.
The stories of Eslam and Shereef show how dedication and ultimate passion may motivate business owners to learn more about their industry and to seek the advice of experts who are focused on the company’s growth and success. Multi M’s subsidiaries are now on a mission to redefine the way we think about design by bringing in a diverse group of international designers to develop concepts and create entirely new visions.