Furniture Out of the Box

Everyone furnishing a home knows how difficult it is to find pieces that are as comfortable as they are beautiful, and that fit your taste. Which is why the new furniture line, TROZO, launched by design house Shades, has not come a moment too soon. Launched by sisters, Nada and Nehal Mahmoud, TROZO started out as a line of customised furniture individually tailored to each client. Recently, the sisters also launched their own TROZO signature line designed and manufactured in house. When they showed their signature products at the recent Le Marche furniture fair, their amazing success came as a surprise, even to them. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat down with the sisters to find out more about their new venture and the secret of their success.

Nehal and Nada Mahmoud joined their father’s real estate development company fresh out of graduation from university. Nehal graduated with a degree in architecture from the Faculty of Fine Arts, while Nada earned a degree in finance from the American University in Cairo. Soon after joining their father’s company, they started their own interior design department within the company, which they called Shades, in 2015. Shades offered both interior design as well as architectural services. Nehal was the principal designer handling the creative side, while Nada handled the business side. They were a perfect match, working very well together. “Being sisters, we’ve really worked together all our lives. We are also still working with our father. He put us on the right path and helped us become what we are today. We owe a lot to him,” says Nehal, who is two years older than Nada. “When we were starting Shades, we saw how well we complimented each other and how we could use both of our expertises to achieve a common dream,” adds Nada.
By 2017, the sisters had realised that they loved producing custom made pieces for their clients. Furniture design and production was a natural extension for them given the fact that their family aready had a factory producing high quality furniture for decades. So, they branched out and started TROZO, a showroom dedicated solely to furniture design and production. “We thought, why not customise and tailor furniture for clients? We used to do that sometimes with Shades, and we loved doing it. Once we had the idea, we immediately got to working on it,” says Nada.

As soon as they started TROZO, the sisters also took the decision to apply for Le Marche, the renowned yearly furniture exhibition. While it was a big step for a pair of newcomers, they were fearless and determined. “I think we can both agree that this was the most stressful time ever,” Nehal recalls, with a giggle. Her sister adds, “It was super stressful to prepare all the furniture on time, and going into this as beginners in the industry was really scary.”

With the possibility of failure and disappointment in the back of their minds, the fear stayed with them until Le Marche’s opening day. Their dad made sure to sit them down to reassure them that it was okay if they didn’t make any deals at the fair. He stressed that their participation alone was a great marketing opportunity and a great promotion for TROZO. In truth, and to everyone’s amazement, their hard work paid off! Their display booth turned out to be the most stacked of the whole exhibition, and people were not only browsing, but lining up to place orders for their furniture. “It was wild. People from other firms were coming over and asking us who we were. They all thought we were a huge brand name,” says Nada smiling. “We ended up with 17 contracts on our pieces at Le Marche, which was bizarre and just so rewarding. We definitely left feeling like we owned the world,” Nehal exclaims.

What probably attracted Le Marche customers to TROZO was their unique sense of style, which can be described as ‘out of the box’. TROZO furniture’s particular sense of style is captivating to a lot of people, even though it does not necessarily click with everyone. The use of colours, and the way different styles are morphed together to create something completely different, is TROZO’s strongest asset. TROZO has it all, from retro to classic to modern. Subtlety is also key at TROZO, as can be discerned in their retro designs, which remind you of the style of previous eras, in a subtle way. Recalling their experience at Le Marche, Nada recounts, “We had this peacock couch that had people really confused. They loved it and were perplexed by it at the same time!” recalls Nada. “Yes, I remember one girl sat on it for about half an hour and didn’t want to leave it; while someone else didn’t understand the choice of colours,” Nehal adds.

While TROZO has something for everyone, their designs are more likely to click with younger clients. TROZO clearly belongs to 2020, and that is clearly reflected in their designs. The sisters are quick to add that they offer much more than their ready-made designs. Since a good part of what they do is customised furniture, everyone can find what they want. If a client has a particular design in mind, TROZO will make it happen. “People often come to us with a design they saw on the internet and we produce it for them. We do that a lot. This service is definitely available,” says Nada.

While each sister has her own duties at Shades and TROZO, having worked together for so long, they sometimes do each other’s work. Nada has discovered a new-found talent for designing and Nehal has learned the ins and outs of the finances. Both also give a lot of credit to the rest of their design team, who work tirelessly at creating the best designs possible. Nada explains, “The two of us are really like yin yang at this point, we work together so well. It also helps that we’re sisters, because when we argue about work, we go back to talking to each other very normally two minutes later.” Nehal adds, “We also have a great team, that is so dedicated and talented. They don’t just design furniture, they test out the liveability of the products and optimise them to make them as comfortable as possible for the clients,” remarks Nehal.

The two sisters are proud that TROZO is a perfect blend of quality and affordability. They remark that people are often shocked at how reasonable their prices are, given the high quality of their furniture. That fact is deliberate and very important to them. They want their furniture to be of high quality and to be accessible, as well. Nada says in conclusion, “Our vision is for TROZO and Shades to go hand in hand together. We want them to be parallel to each other and not to clash. We want to be a popular brand, while maintaining our identity and core.”