Sofa culture in Middle East – Cairo

Cairo’s population fluctuates between an “official” figure of 17 million and a popular belief figure resulting in an unlikely 30 million. Continuously in expansion, Cairo feeds itself from the city’s eternal vitality, thus originating a vortex of chaos in which, however, many neighborhoods have found their breathing space in informality. A reality, the latter, reinforced by events belonging to the Arab Spring.

The fall of the hierarchy structures, at first, and the consequent instability determined the creation of a libertarian dimension triggered into an unconceivable flow of artistic, cultural and ideological creativity throughout the capital. Free from a dictatorship that suffocated their aspiration for years, the Egyptians initiated a process of reappropriation of the urban space.

A process, the latter, started on the 25th of January 2011, when thousands of people occupied Midan Tahrir demanding Mubarak’s resignations (obtained on the 11th February 2011). In a few days, while the tents were set up, more and more people flowed in Tahrir square reaching a million (in fact, the term millioneyya was used). An experience of unique closeness for the whole country. Sharing such a confined space allowed the Egyptians to encounter different and unknown realities. Initially the square became, at a micro level, a society able to function without any imposition from above, based on mutual aid and self-management of the spaces.

The sofas belonging to this series are part of this socio- urban context and have started covering a different role from the traditional one. Usually when you think about a couch, you consider it as a simple piece of furniture; in Cairo you can find them scattered around the city becoming goods of common use and gathering points for passer-byers, families and neighborhoods. These sofa lost their original function and have been assimilated in the city’s chaos becoming integrative elements of the urban environment