Woodwork from nature

Environmentalists and nature lovers would be intrigued to hear of Shahir Maged’s natural woodwork because it is an interesting way to bring an environmental lifestyle into people’s homes. His work stands out in an Egyptian furniture market that does not aspire to create such raw designs. A doctor by profession, and a carpenter and DJ by hobby, Maged tells Al-Masry Al-Youm about his involvement with woodwork, a passion driven by his love for the environment.

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Please introduce yourself to our readers

Shahir Maged: I am Alexandrian, and the city remains my home base. I am an orthopedic surgeon by profession. Carpentry is a personal passion that I have delved into since my childhood. Actually, it is because of carpentry that I found my calling as an orthopedic surgeon, since they have many similarities. Being an orthopedic surgeon is like having a workshop in a hospital.

Al-Masry: How did your involvement with woodwork begin?

Maged: My father introduced me to carpentry. He is also a doctor and, in similar fashion, carpentry is his personal passion. Therefore, beginning at a young age, I would spend time at the carpentry workshop my father established. The workshop is a professional one with all the equipment needed to work in carpentry. We differ in the kind of work we produce, though. My father’s work is more in line with functional woodwork and I decided to take a more artistic direction.

Al-Masry: Where do you get your wood from?

Maged: Having lived in Agamy since a young age, at a time when the area was empty and its natural beauty still stood out, I became a nature-lover and environmentalist. I would gather the wood that came my way while walking on the beach, store the wood, and whenever I would have an idea for an item I would look at the pieces of wood I had in store and decide on the most suiting one for the idea in mind.

Al-Masry: Any particular types of wood you like to work with?

Maged: There isn’t a particular kind, since what I do is a form of recycling and I work with what is available. The wood that I use is what would have been thrown away or used for a fire. I am particularly fond of the wood I gather from the beach, though. It’s wood that has been shaped by the waves and the elements. The sea is also very good to the wood because the salt sucks the water out of the wood so it becomes a great raw material. The only disadvantage is having to wait between 2-3 years for the piece of wood to dry properly since I don’t use industrial methods to dry it.

Al-Masry: What are the items you make?

Maged: A variety of things, such as coffee tables, small dining tables, hangers out of tree branches, shelves, lighting pieces, lamps with tree branches, small ornamental pieces, and boxes.

Al-Masry: Tell us about your designs

Maged: I seek to produce furniture and household items that are not only artistic in form but practical and durable in nature. Simplicity is the main element in my work so as to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. All pieces are handmade, manufactured to a very basic extent to give them a good finish. They are not pre-designed items. When using raw wood you cannot use normal woodwork techniques because any machine would demolish the natural curves of the wood.

Al-Masry: Any particular design inspirations?

Maged: The natural forms and curves of raw tree branches and trunks became an inspiration for many of my creations. In many cases I’ve been inspired by the rustic beauty of wood pieces found on the beach after they traveled the sea and acquired all its spirit. The only time I work in a more conventional manner is when someone asks for a particular item to be made. Then I have to seek out the wood that is fitting to the item rather than wait for the inspiration to come from what I have in stock.

Al-Masry: Is the Egyptian market welcoming of your work?

Maged: People are more accepting and are interested in this kind of woodwork, but it is more dependent on taste because this requires an alternative, unconventional taste in furniture. The reason it is in demand is because there aren’t others who do this. Most carpenters seek to be engaged in commercial work, which does not include this kind of woodwork.

Originally published by Egyptindependent.com here.

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