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Islam Farahat: A Unique Affair with Quality Woodworking

by Inas Mazhar

In 2012, Islam Farahat established Islam Farahat Innovations (IFI)— a state-of-the-art factory offering highly customized and meticulously executed woodworks. Islam speaks to HE HOME on how he ‘rediscovered’ his love of wood and turned a passionate hobby for woodworking into a profession he loves and excels at.

THE BEGINNING

“Every piece of wood is a diamond in the rough”

Since being a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo, the then 21-year-old Islam Farahat was doing interior design and residential finishing on the side in his spare time. It was then that Islam took a greater interest in the material of wood over anything else. 

“The fact that wood is an organic natural medium intrigued me more than any other material. Its irregularity, luster, natural weathering marks, and tracks give wood a unique character—no two pieces are the same, which makes the search and selection for each product an enjoyable challenge in itself.”

Islam explains that his fascination goes beyond the vast types and variations of wood available but also extends to the creative expression he is able to exercise from a piece of discarded wood that others might consider ‘junk’. In Islam’s eyes, every piece of wood is very unique with the potential to become an intricately engineered functional piece. 

Imagine how a raw piece of wood or a trunk of a tree can be used to create a masterpiece of woodwork? Islam combined his talent with his knowledge and skillful techniques to transfer a raw piece of wood into a unique product. “I was fascinated by the numerous kinds of wood out there, and according to the type of wood you select, it determines the beauty and solidity of the complete piece. Wood is available in many variations, and each has its own properties,” he said.

Islam’s vision was to take wood to a whole new level of artistic pleasure and functionality, but achieving this was far from easy. In the beginning, Islam was unable to find the right workshops to execute his projects. The woodworking factories and workshops available lacked the necessary machinery and quality standards required for Islam’s technically challenging and progressive designs. “Factories operated on a mass-production model sticking to very basic cookie-cutter designs, while smaller workshops were not equipped with the right machinery nor had the artistic and technical skill required to deliver my designs with the finish and quality I wanted. The only solution was to set up my own workshop.”


THE FACTORY

“We are not interior designers, but creators of wood… unprecedented product designers.”

In 2012 Islam started his first workshop, Islam Farahat Innovations (IFI)— a modest 600 square meter space equipped with limited machines, but still matching the state-of-the-art criteria at its best. A great deal of focus was directed towards selecting true artisans with not only impeccable woodworking skills but also with an artistic eye— an essential aspect in all of Islam’s designs. “IFI was set up as a high-end wood manufacturer offering a wide selection of custom furniture pieces and fit-outs. Custom aesthetic designs with unsurpassed quality and a top-grade finish are at the core of IFI,” he explained. This can be seen in the work done for clients such as Microsoft Egypt, The G-hotel - Seashell, Regis Rental, Vox VIP lounge cinemas, and retailers as Seoudi markets, to name a few.


The factory was then introduced to a new sector and Islam continued his journey and kept growing his business gradually, until step by step, he reached greater success.

As the client portfolio grew, so did the operation. IFI expanded to a 1200 square meter factory— adding more German-made machinery to their operation and expanding output capacity. However, the traditional woodworking methods are still maintained at IFI as Islam explains, “no matter what piece is used, there will always be an element, a human touch to the wood that cannot be replicated by machines. It is absolutely necessary to maintain this which is why a great deal of investment continues to be placed in growing and nurturing our team of hand-skilled artisans.”

Whether in residential or commercial projects, IFI offers a functional yet aesthetically pleasing solution with impeccable craftsmanship that is proudly made in Egypt. In their business practice, they value great craftsmanship, quality, the finest materials and attention to detail.

THE SHOWROOM

“The woodwork in our projects reflects the identity of our clients.”

After several years of business-to-business operations, Islam’s passion for individuality in design continued to prevail. Islam wanted a channel where his passion could thrive. This would include direct contact with the individual customer/client to work on tailor-made designs according to the customer’s specifications and requirements, both functionally and aesthetically. In 2019 IFI opened a showroom to do just that. “The showroom is a 1000 square meter space which exhibits samples of our creative work and functional capability. It is a place for the client to visit, get inspired and work with our in-house team of designers to brainstorm ideas and develop a truly personalized solution.” 

A recent example of this was the fit-out of an out-of-service 12M bus, turning it into a permanently livable, moving home. Wood was used both functionally and aesthetically to section off the space into bedrooms, kitchen, living/dining and storage. 

The IFI showroom is simply an extension of the core operation. It houses the creative design team and serves as an aesthetic visual aid for customers. It is where the drawing board originates and all the back and forth of indecisiveness and creativity happen before moving to the factory for execution. 

The process of a woodwork project is quite enthralling; “first, the client comes seeking our woodwork expertise. So, we decide on the concept—whether classic, modern or contemporary. Then we take measurements, create the mood board and design, and share it with the client for approval to execute,” Farahat explained, adding, “we have a certain target for our customers. People now understand our work and have trust in our experience and service. Our project is taken care of from A to Z, and we care about every single detail.”

The showroom has been a game-changer for IFI, opening a direct channel with customers which has, in turn, led to establishing a solid reputation in the market of customized work with top quality materials and an A-Z execution. There is a high level of trust associated with the IFI name as the business remains true to its core values of individualized artistic realization and exceptional craftsmanship.


THE TEAM

“We work as one big family, and everyone is made to feel they are a valuable contributor.”

Islam explains that the process is meticulously streamlined ensuring everything runs according to plan. “Both the showroom and factory teams understand and respect each other’s forte. They communicate and familiarize themselves with each other’s process so that every creative decision made can be executed effectively with no compromise to the aesthetics or function.”

Islam ensures that his team members feel they are part of the family rather than just employees, and that this is what motivates them to always want to deliver their absolute best. A comfortable work environment, proper guidance, and most of all a high morale are what keeps them on the cutting edge of performance. “If they feel like family, then they will remain loyal. And if they are loyal, they will innovate. Everyone at IFI is made to feel that they have actively contributed towards its growth and success… and for this, I am very proud”.

“In our factory, we always make sure that you get the ultimate quality you deserve.”

This is where woodwork magic happens! Islam Farahat Innovations is a reputable name in the market that people seek and trust. Their woodwork projects have been gaining noteworthy recognition and are meanwhile in high demand. His creations have had people singing praises of his woodwork designs and attracting more woodworks enthusiasts. 

We were very pleased to have such an inspiring chat with Architect Islam Farahat that was full of passion, challenges, and achievements.