Long before they received their college degree, the Kanjo siblings, Nourhan and Dayana, have had much bigger dreams than their peers’. They dreamed of leaving a mark in the Egyptian architecture sector, and it’s going without a saying that Kanjo Design House is taking this path.
After their graduation from the Nottingham Trent University in the UK, the now mid-twenties sisters rolled up their sleeves and jumped into action. At the Kanjo Design House, they steadily carve their unique signature through elegant, one-of-a-kind designs that not only meet the clients’ needs, but also shine distinguishingly. The Kanjo sisters managed to design some of Egypt’s most prominent brand showrooms, residential compounds, and commercial centres.
Kanjo designs are known for being eco-friendly, as both Dayana and Nourhan made raising the people’s awareness of the environment protection as one of their life goals.
Daily News Egypt interviewed the two sisters to know further about their achievements and the struggles they faced in their architecture journey.
How did you start your company, and why did you want to have your own business?
Nourhan: For us, it was never a question. We always knew that we want to start our own designing firm. We both went to the same architecture school in the UK, and when I returned back to Cairo, I found that the market had so many opportunities, and that there is a gap that we can fill with what we love to do.
What were the opportunities that you found and felt they cannot be missed?
Nourhan: We studied abroad, where we were taught the design in a very different way than what is here in terms of procedures, concept, ideas, and inspiration. Returning to Cairo, we found a tremendous gap in these areas, while the market was actually booming.
Of course, there are some creative people around, but I mean the way we style and see things is different. That is why we thought we have an opportunity here in Egypt, and it was fed with the people’s constant requests to design their places.
Your designs focus on renewable energy and recycling, would you please elaborate on the reasons behind this approach?
Nourhan: It was never an idea that came to our minds. It was always the way we were raised. We have never thrown a bottle of plastic at home, and living abroad even enhanced that, as the lifestyle there drives you to do the same.
Moving back to Egypt, we are really trying to push the limits in this side through working on the eco-friendly projects and designs.
One of the things we are trying to do is introducing solar-powered lights in chandeliers and reusing grey water. It really helps both the client and the environment, so it is a win-win situation. Our clients are also willing to do it, as long as it is affordable.
Dayana: We are trying to raise the people’s awareness of that issue. We made this year’s Christmas tree of empty plastic bottles. We used around 460 bottles collected from our circles.
You are two young ladies who studied abroad and started a business in a mostly male-dominant field, what were the main obstacles you faced since the establishment of Kanjo Design House?
Dayana: Any startup faces many challenges whatever the field. However, in our case, it takes a lot of effort to show what type of production you can come up with. The market we are working in is very intricate; it has a lot of creative minds.
What we like to offer is ‘vision’, which we see as an obstacle on its own, as it has to be distinguished than other visions in the market. But when you take that vision into application is another obstacle.
Have you ever been harassed being young females who spend most of their day at construction sites?
Dayana: There is not a place or a country in the world where a woman in such circumstances would not face this situation. The way of facing this is all about your attitude, and how you present yourself.
We were raised to stand up for ourselves and control the situation. We do not give a space for that behaviour to take place.
How would you describe your business vision, and what is the one constant element that all your designs must have?
Nourhan: Our vision is focused on human satisfaction. At the end of the day, whatever the type of the design is, it is dedicated to the people. So, it has to fit the owners and fulfil their needs.
Catering for owners is also the constant element in all of our designs.
What can motivate you the most to present better designs?
Dayana: I am passionate the most about travelling and seeing new places and cultures. Dealing with new people and places are among the things that can touch a person for good, especially the places that are designed to make you feel emotions.
Nourhan: It is kind of the same, but adding on to that is being stuck to the designing idea until it is totally complete. When we want to design something, it sticks to the back of my head during every single activity of my daily life. It becomes a part of me, until I come up with all the design details.
What are your future plans?
Nourhan: At the time being, we are just pushing limits. We currently seek global expansion and keep the social impact we have been leaving so far.
Dayana: I’m siding up with Nourhan. We also aim to enhance the architecture sector here. Eventually, we all live here and architecture is the tool by which the one gets to read history.