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Old is Gold: L’Antiquette

An innovative blend between a high-end antique gallery and top-of-the-line interior design bureau,helps you add a touch of luxury to your home
By Farah Akkad
Photography by Hayssam Samir

Across the Nile Corniche on one of Zamalek’s elegant tree-lined streets, aficionados will be happy to spend hours at L’Antiquette’s gallery. Setting foot into the quaint showroom — which is set up like a home instead of the typical antique gallery choc-a-bloc display — is like entering a time machine: Visitors will likely find themselves sensing they can almost catch glimpses of men dressed in neatly tailored suits and women in elegant dresses of centuries past. Every piece of furniture is an original antique, every corner a piece of art, sensational and unique in its old world charm.

It is a diverse collection, and the gallery’s Facebook page boasts a “handpicked collection of 18th- and 19th-century French and English antiques [that] will suit all those passionate about classic elegance.” Among the items, L’Antiquette showcases “dining rooms, salon sets, mirrors, bronze groups, chandeliers, carpets, goblins tapestries, paintings and an extensive collection of Sèvres pieces.”

L’Antiquette’s co-founder Raed Dessouki explains that clients have very diverse tastes when it comes to antiques. “Some have a specific image in their minds, others are attracted to a piece they never thought they would like.”

But of course people are naturally drawn to anything of old charm, authenticated and with a story behind it. “It is more precious and feels different to have,” Dessouki adds, “if a plate goes back five generations, it is definitely more valuable.”

I immediately fell in love with one corner of the reception where a French bronze clock from the 18th century stands. “This clock has only two originals in the world,” boasts Dessouki. “The other copy is on exhibit in a museum in Paris.”

One cannot walk to the other corners of the gallery without passing by a breathtaking grand piano dating back to the 18th century. L’Antiquette’s gallery offers a wide variety of original French and Belgium antiques including clocks, carpets, mirrors, fauteuils, portraits, statues, vases and chandeliers “mostly from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries,” says Mohamed Hammam, Dessouki’s partner.

As an interior designer with a deep interest for anything “vintage,” Dessouki shares the same passion for antiques as Hammam, which as they confide is the reason they came together for the project in 2012.

“We discovered we have the same vision, very similar taste; thus we succeeded in bringing this project to light,” adds Dessouki.
L’Antiquette officially opened in June, and the partners say the project has been a tremendous success since then.

Hammam fills us in on some of the historical background of a handful of pieces. The first corner of the gallery exhibits a Louis 16th French Aubusson sofa along with Louis 14th bergère chairs and an Aubusson tapestry carpet from the 18th century.

The gallery also exhibits an array of handpainted Sevres porcelain boxes and vases dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. “Each piece carries the signature of the artist,” says Hammam, pointing out names such as Lekoir and Maurico.

One of the Sevres vases portrays a proposal scene from the 18th century, the unique work of French artist Levi Gilly along with a French oriental statue from the 19th century. Rich bronze is a distinctive element in many of the pieces displayed in the gallery, immediately capturing visitors’ attention.
L’Antiquette also offers a variety of services which include interior designing, and restoration and refurbishment of antique furniture.
When asked how to take good care of antiques, Dessouki replies with amusement, “Stay away from it as much as possible.”

But the antiques dealer isn’t joking; in fact it is the advice he gives his clients, whom he always encourages to seek professional help from experts when anything is broken or needs polishing. “When a piece is broken off an antique, it loses a lot of its value. People who usually try to fix it end up totally damaging it.” et

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