Friday Five with Karim Mekhtigian

Founder of Alchemy Design Studio, Karim Mekhtigian is a designer who picked up his skills and knowledge from around the world. Though Armenian in origin, he was brought-up in Cairo, studied in Paris and often jokes about having been Japanese in a previous life. Throughout the years, this mille-feuilles of different identities helped him form his design language and translate his creative vision into his creations.

After founding Alchemy Design Studio in 1997, Mekhtigian quickly became a staple in Egyptian design scene. Known as the Alchemist, this designer started different initiatives to promote the Egyptian industry. The projects included the creation of the Egyptian Designers Forum (EDF) to working as an Art Director for the Egyptian Furniture Export Council (EFEC) and launching his own furniture brand Alchemy Cairo.

With a passion for timeless designs, stories and concepts, today he shares with Design Milk his top five timeless things:

1. Old Egyptian cinema
Or as we sometimes call it, the “Golden Age” of Egyptian cinema. These movies from the 50s and 60s continue to inspire me, their visual references are timeless and some are considered as icons. However, they also capture the heart and humor of a modern day Egypt and that is fascinating to me.

2. A15 Design
I think this little boutique in Milan is one of the best-kept secrets of the city. This low-key design destination has the most amazing collection of vintage pieces from the biggest icons of designs; you can find little design treasures like the renowned Sottsass ashtrays and typewriter for Olivetti or Joe Colombo’s asymmetrical Smoke Glasses.

3. A Single Man
I love Tom Ford’s vision in this movie. I think he was able to capture the whole storyline not only through the actors but also in all the different aspects of the film. His attention to details brought the movie to life, it is impressive to see how he incorporated his vision within his cinematography, sets and architecture.

What pulls me the most with MUJI is its basic lifestyle approach. It really shows you how in some cases less is more; whether it is with its meaning “no brand” or the fact that it never fails to provide endless little things that you can use for in your daily life. It is simply about global human needs.

5. Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
In this book, Pamuk is not just talking about himself. He is reporting a country’s heart and soul through his memories. The storyline explores and explains the relation of a person to a space; in this case an entire city. It has a personal significance as I kind of share a similar story; the book reminds me of my own neighborhood in Cairo and how all these memories inspire me as a designer.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.