Since October, İstanbul has welcomed many creative events from arts to innovation, from branding to design. It’s so nice to experience the moment, while this city  is stepping in to a ” design city ” atmosphere every single day.

I listed some of the major events that took place during the last 4 months as below:

September 4-6   // Art International Istanbul, 2nd edition (http://istanbulartinternational.com/)

October 13-18 // Istanbul Fashion Week (http://mbfashionweek.com/istanbul/schedule )

October 28 – December 14 // The Moving Museum @Sishane Autopark ( http://www.themovingmuseum.com/filtered/istanbul )

October 29-30  // preview, Istanbul Design Biennial, 2nd edition ( http://2tb.iksv.org/index.asp )

November 1st – December 14 //  Istanbul Design Biennial + opening of the biennial parallel events

November 3-8  // Brandweek Istanbul+ Felis awards (http://en.brandweekistanbul.com/)

November 5-9 // Istanbul Design Week (http://www.istanbuldesignweek.com/en/index.html )

November 12-13 // Mini MakerFaire Istanbul ( http://www.makersturkiye.com/ )

November 13-16  // Contemporary Art, 9th edition (http://contemporaryistanbul.com/)

dozens of gallery exhibition openings in November in arts and design:

– Salon Dantel @Adahan ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/salon1/134636176549272?fref=ts )

– Solid Air @Gallery74 (http://istanbul74.com/gallery/istanbul-74-presents-defne-koz/ )

– Glass is Tomorrow meets Nude @Autoban ( http://www.glassistomorrow.eu/files/64-GITmeets_Nude_invitation__to_use_.pdf )

– Hiperkaik  Tektonik @311 Artworks

– Instructions/ Interpretatitons @ Dhoku (https://www.facebook.com/dhokurugs?hc_location=timeline )

– Zero Design Festival @Antrepot7 (http://www.zeroistanbul.com/2014/10/30/zero-design-festival2014/ )

November 19-20  // Arkimeet architecture conference ( http://www.arkimeet.com/2014/en/13)

November  28 // Design Turkey Conference and Awards ( https://www.designturkey.org.tr/?__r=8d1e9ad6efd5a9f )

December 4-6  // Innovation Week ( http://www.turkiyeinovasyonhaftasi.com/tr/default.html )

December 18-19  // MARKA conference  ( http://www.markaconference.com/en/marka2014 )

2nd istanbul design biennia2nd istanbul design biennial

The 2nd İstanbul Biennia  was free – entrance and reached to the 85.000 visitors this time at both venues:  Galata Greek School and Antrepot 7 , where the academy participants, sponsor booths and Zero design festival was placed. The visitors were reported as over 100.000, together with the side events, which is very alike the former 114.000 visitors recorded in 2012.

The event has  covered a large field of practices from sound to fashion design, products to architecture, crafts to gastronomy. The Greek School became a warm hub for especially young designers and students during the biennial, with its continuous talks and conferences at the main hall;  Kontraakt was a bold motivator for this to happen for sure. The team presented  live broadcasting and radio shows besides workshops and many other events they presented. ( http://www.kontraakt.com/p/the-2nd-istanbul-design-biennial.html )

poland@2nd istanbul design biennia2nd istanbul design biennia2nd istanbul design biennia

It was good to feel that the biennial empowers the design atmosphere to spread  into the city itself; the 1st of November was an unforgettable experience for the design lovers, as more than 5 openings in the Karakoy – Pera route during that day together with the biennial itself realized at the same schedule. This could be planned better, but the joy of not being able to attend all of the events in one single evening was – one of a first time experience –  in İstanbul I guess ( when its about design !) The parallel events all listed above were as much as attractive as the biennial exhibitions itself.

It was no good to hear about a last minute Design Week, which was announced to a very limited amount of people, only a week before the event; not scheduled before, no press meetings even.. Most of the designers were unaware of the event, some of them were not invited ( yes I am also among them ;-), happily someone sent me an online invitation the day before, but I didn’t visit the event ). This, attracted negative response at word of mouth, and I do believe the organizers are more conscious about whats going on this time.

Arkimeet was also a very nice  dynamic event , which brings the architects together. Taking place at the Four Seasons Bosphorus  hotel this time; it was more professional as its participants. The Pecha Kucha night became an Arkimeet Classic at its second year with its brave content and dynamic speakers.

arkimeetthe moving museumthe moving museum

mini makerfaire istanbulcontemporray art

Not only the art, design and architecture events but also the brand events were on the focus of motivating / celebrating creativity this year in İstanbul. The latest and most significant event has just ended ( today !), the MARKA conference which brings over 30 speakers both local and global; all of them are initiators or representatives of leading brands and/or they are themselves are personally unique brands. The event  presented a bold design agenda this time, including names as Sir Bob Geldof, Lady Kinvara Balfour, Can Yalman, Güren Gökyay, Hakan Yıldırım, and Rem Koolhaas, from the creative practices. ( Rem Koolhaas cancelled his participation at last minute – without an excuse – which is I do believe e a very  big issue about one’s ethical values.)  As the moderator BJ Cunningham mentioned, brands are all about belief and promises, we learned an important lesson from the starchitect ! I guess the investors in Turkey would think twice to work with him.


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One of the bold moments about design during the event was  the talk session of  Ayşe Arman ( leading journalist ) together with Bülent Eczacıbaşı ( leading business figure ), titled: “ Can Istanbul become a Design City? ” Eczacıbaşı underlined that being a design city is more about being a sustainable, livable, social and citizen friendly city rather than taking this title as a label by institutions. Arman’s questions  about the affects of conservatism or the aesthetic unconsciousness of Turkish people  reated a worthy discussion where Eczacıbaşı focused more on the positive impact of cultural values and transforming our education system into a more creative one by integrating design thinking processes. The session gave a call on the brand conference audience as well , as representatives of leading brands, to get together and collaborate for adding value to the perception of Istanbul, as a design city.

The Innovation Week organized by TIM (Turkey Exporters Association ) in collaboration with the governmental institutions improved success this year, by the program and exhibitions. The event conquered me at heart, by its free entrance which led high school teachers to bring their students at ages between 10-17 to the event. The innovation book was also gratis to the participants. I do believe the organizers should be more precise to manage the huge crowd including both students and professionals together besides the signage of the huge venue.Time delays at the sessions were also a serious problem. Nicholas Negroponte was among the speakers of the innovation week, and he focused on his studies at MIT.He proposed an “open and public free internet” as a role model for the development of Turkey  ( I guess he was unaware the fact that Istanbul has at least doubled capacity of free internet facility when compared to London or New York 😉 . It was still inspiring .


It’s impossible to write all the experience here, but I want to mention that the Gallery 74 was a perfect match for Defne Koz’s amazing 3D printed lighting structures… Gökhan Karakuş’s curation at Hiperkaik Tektonik exhibition was very mind opening  in search for new possibilities and methodologies, both on aesthetic and technical side … and of course the multidisciplinary approach and radical interpretation to a very traditional item ” lace” at SalonDantel exhibition was very attractive . This exhibition was the very first experience of product placement at a whole living venue ( Adahan ) which is in fact an active hotel. The exhibition was curated by Salon Amsterdam team with my co-curation for Turkish participants !

hiperkaik tektonikdefne kozScreen Shot 2014-12-19 at 19.35.19salondantelsalondantelstudio oyo @salondantel

salondantelsalondantel teamsalondantel


As a last note about the Istanbul design scene, I have to tell you about one of the recent exhibitions: “Idea Casting ” curated by Erdem Akan, and opened at the amazing new atelier of Ela Cindoruk and Nazan Pak. The ENCP Gallery is welcoming its guests at a cool display atmosphere, including the marvelous jewellery designs of the couple. The space works as a gallery  besides being their workshop at the same time. The designers often commission unique exhibitions in arts, design and crafts. The idea casting exhibition is a showcase of the artistic works of  names as Aşye Birsel, Atila Kuzu, Eray Makal, Sezgin Aksu, Seçkin Pirim, Aziz Sarıyer,Emir Uras, Günnur Özsoy and pays attention to the traditional crafts processes by Fevzi Koz. The exhibition can be seen until the end of January 2015. (http://www.ecnp-jewelry.com )

ecnp gallery, eray makal

Note: Photo credits, can be found at the event links mentioned in this article.