Off the Gireed

Studio Meem
Furniture line



Studio Meem is a design studio which experiments with constructive systems that involve sustainable use of natural, social and economic resources. Their work spans the fields of architecture, urbanism, design and art.

Studio Meem was founded in 2011 by by Manar Moursi. A graduate from the University of Virginia, Manar obtained a fellowship to complete a dual Masters degree in Architecture and Urban Policy from Princeton University.

Studio Meem’s inaugural collection PALMCRATE Off the Gireed, inspired by everyday street objects, has recently been awarded a Red Dot Design Award and a 2011 Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture, Art Design and Urban Studies.

Manar shared with us this great collection which was featured on CNN and exhibited in galleries from Singapore to Alexandria. Here is some text and images courtesy of the designer.



Off the Gireed

PALMCRATE Off the Gireed is a series of furniture pieces which explore the narratives of material, process, place and cultural context that are embedded in a ubiquitous material and re-contextualized in innovative ways to create fresh meanings, uses and significations.

From nineteenth-century representations of the Egyptian market to the contemporary Cairene street, the palm-crate is the most abundant and widely-used container in Egypt. From simple fruit and vegetable crate, to birdcage and chicken coop, to display table, it is used in markets as a storage vessel or as transportation basket, hung on bicycle, donkey or camel backs. It is a vessel which contains within it, not only the products it carries but its own rich cultural histories and meanings.

Palm-crates are made from the midrib of the date palm, the date palm itself a tree that has been prized and cultivated from remotest antiquity. Palm-crate making is an artisanal craft which is labor intensive and slow. The processes related to crate making involve intricate body movements which are then translated to linear grids. Each hand-made crate is therefore almost the same but also profoundly unique in its dimensions and grid, thus reflecting a wabi-sabi aesthetic of imperfection, transience and incompleteness.



With the changing economic patterns in most date producing countries, including increased labor costs and scarcity, palm-crate making has diminished and is being replaced with plastic crates. The new PALMCRATE Off the Gireed furniture series seeks to reinterpret and reuse the typical crate collaging it with other materials, while maintaining the purity of its original form and design. The product line uses 4 verbal commands to define the type of products created: stack, lift, hang and array. Each product line, from bookshelves to tables, responds formally to a unique combination of commands.

This project thus seeks to reinvigorate the artisanal craft of palm-crate making, with the resulting products seeking to question what has been lost in the age of mass-production, over-consumption and disposability, while allowing the palm-fiber (gireed) to be seen anew as a material of beauty and significance.



Studio Meem’s product lines seek to create a visual identity for furniture that is of a distinctive Egyptian/regional character. They hope to invigorate partnerships between designers and native artisans to empower local work and local materials in small communities. Studio Meem’s products embody a perfect balance between unique design-know-how and traditional artisanal craftsmanship.

Manar’s past experience includes projects ranging from planning satellite cities in Kuwait, to the interior design of Nile Cruise boats. Her 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. We will be featuring more work if this experimental and environmental studio soon.

Project data:


Photos and content courtesy of the designer


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