Life & Style

Unusual tables

For most people, there is a clear difference between a shisha and a coffee table—two separate objects, each with its own specific purpose. For Dina Shoukry, on the other hand, those lines of distinction are a little blurred. Shishas can also function as the legs of a uniquely trendy coffee table—as long as you don’t plan on smoking them.

“There are thin metal rods running through the shishas,” says the 27-year-old designer as she crouches next to one of her creations—a smooth, dark, wooden tabletop supported by four colorful glass shisha-legs. She taps the glass and readjusts a curled-up lai (shisha-hose) and says, “I wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t shatter under the weight of the wood. I also had to shorten the lai’s and find new cloth to cover them with.”

The end result is a coffee table that is, as all good modern furniture should be, both original and familiar. For all their glittering attachments and eye-catching designs, Shoukry’s creations are still instantly recognizable as coffee tables, unusual without being impractical. Refreshingly, there is little pretentiousness in either the young artist or her designs. Instead, there is an obvious passion for what she does, and for the joys of creative work.

“Don’t ask me where I get my ‘inspiration’ from,” she says with a smile. “I hate that question.”

Shoukry has been designing, making, and selling coffee tables for the past six months. After receiving her degree in marketing and advertising from Misr International University, she went to work at her father’s factory, processing raw materials and food additives for several major dairy companies. “It wasn’t in any way related to anything I was even remotely interested in,” she says, frowning as she remembers the three frustrating years she spent at the factory. “I was in business development. All that work, writing forecasts and business estimate plans and stuff… it just wasn’t me. I don’t like sitting behind desks. I like workshops and tool sheds. I like working with my hands.”  As if to prove her point, she gestures to the room behind her, which is crowded with the brightly colored fruits of her labor.

“This table in particular was a real pain to make,” Shoukry says, stopping next to a waist-high round tabletop, from the edges of which hangs a curtain of stained glass beads, the ends meeting three quarters of the way down. “I had to paint all these pieces by hand. They were transparent when I bought them,” she says, running her fingers through a strand of multicolored stained glass. The finished piece, which she has dubbed “Chandelier,” is simple, elegant, and imaginative. Shoukry flicks a switch, turning on a concealed light bulb attached to the underside of the tabletop. The effect of light radiating through the stained glass beads is pleasant and comforting—features shared by most of the work on display.

“My mother used to run an atelier out of this room, where she gave drawing lessons,” Shoukry says as she leads the way to another table. “So I guess there’s an artistic streak of some kind running through the family.”

The bulkier "Patchwork," which looks like a quilt in the shape of a coffee table, proved challenging for Shoukry. She points out the collage of copper-sheet cutouts nailed to the surface of a scorched-looking wooden tabletop and laughs. “I shredded my hands cutting those shapes.”

But Shoukry isn’t complaining. While others may balk at the prospect of finding joy in endless nights of tedious bead-painting or copper cutting, Shoukry does just that. “This is what I love doing,” she says, as she proudly beams at her open palms.

Shoukry has been living in Malaysia with her husband for the past two years, returning to Egypt every few months to bring life to the designs she develops during her time abroad. While she hopes to expand in terms of designs and business, she remains unsure about testing her obvious talents on a wider range of furniture. “At the moment, I can’t really see myself designing a couch. There’s not enough craftsmanship involved,” she says before shrugging, “but you never know. Maybe I just haven’t found the right idea yet.”

For more information on designs and pricing, please visit  Dina Shoukry’s facebook group.  

or contact Dina Shoukry via email: dina.shoukry@gmail.com

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