Studio Meem is an interdisciplinary research and design studio founded by architect Manar Moursi in 2011. Since the establishment of our studio, we have been searching for new operating models, viewing architecture as a tool and a field for critical research inquiry on the built environment. Our work allows us to identify questions, introduce new concepts and work with unusual tools. It encompasses both commissioned projects as well as self-initiated projects with varying outputs.
Since its foundation, Studio Meem has collaborated with a vast network of artisans, artists, landscape designers, curators and writers with the conviction that dialogue and cooperation enhances creative possibilities.
The Studio's inaugural product line PALMCRATE Off the Gireed, inspired by everyday street objects in Cairo was awarded a Red Dot Design Award and a 2011 Good Design Award. It has been published and exhibited both locally and internationally. In 2014, we launched new product lines including Ahwa Sada, Supernatural and Tesselate in the Ventura Lambrate Section of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milano.
Studio Meem’s first architectural project was recently constructed in Kuwait. Its architectural design of a disaster relief center in Istanbul with architect Omar Rabie was among the top 8 projects shortlisted for the ThyssenKrupp Elevator Architecture Award in 2011.
In addition to design work, Studio Meem recently co-edited with David Puig a book entitled: Sidewalk Salon: 1001 Street Chairs in Cairo. This book was published by Onomatopee (Eindhoven) and Kotob Khan (Cairo) in September 2015. It explores the city of Cairo and its urban dynamics through the lens of an often overlooked and apparently banal object: the street-chair. It includes photography, commissioned texts, poetry, fiction and interviews. An exhibition to mark the launch of the book was inaugurated in Dutch Design Week 2015 with video art, an interactive website and an installation commissioned by Studio Meem in collaboration with David Puig and Onomatopee.
In 2014 we collaborated with Mahatat for Contemporary Art on the design and construction of the Wonder Box - a contemporary revival of traditional peep show boxes with live performances. The project traveled in the streets of Cairo for the duration of a month.
In 2016, we launched our project Mapping Cairo through a workshop with students in Cairo. It was exhibited along with work traveling from Tokyo in Cairo and more recently, in the Egyptian Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Further to this project, our work with CLUSTER on the Downtown Passageways was also exhibited in the Biennale. We also collaborated with the curators of the pavilion on editing and writing the texts for the exhibition catalogue.
Manar Moursi is multi-disciplinary designer and artist based in Cairo. A graduate of the University of Virginia’s undergraduate program of architecture, Manar also holds a dual Masters degree in Architecture and Urban Policy from Princeton University. In 2011 she founded Studio Meem. Aside from her practice with Studio Meem, Manar publishes regularly, participates in art exhibitions and conducts academic workshops. Her writings on urban issues have appeared in Thresholds, Lunch, Mada, CairObserver, the Funambulist and Egypt Independent. Her imaginary pink plastic pirate utopias in a post-tsunami Tokyo were recently published in the latest Monnik publication Tokyo Totem. She has collaborated with the Japan Foundation in Cairo to produce an instructive publication for design students in Cairo and conducted workshops in Beirut, Dubai and Doha. She also recently lectured at MSA University and the German University in Cairo.
In addition to her writing and architectural work, Manar has participated in multiple art exhibitions, the latest being Next to Here, a group photography show, curated by Constanze Wicke, which traveled regionally from the Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo, to Beirut, Casablanca, Khartoum, Algiers, Jerusalem and Amman.
Her work has been published widely in both local and international press and was featured on CNN. In 2015, in recognition of her architectural design work, she was nominated for the prestigious ArcVision Women in Architecture Award.