by Gökhan Karakuş

In the past two decades, contemporary design by Turkish designers has gone through a remarkable period of activity, highlighted by an increasing number of original designs primarily produced in the unique cultural framework of Istanbul. This creativity has reached a point where it is now possible to outline a number of distinctive features of the collected work of this noteworthy group of industrial, furniture and product designers. Furthermore, the ideas underpinning the designs of the leading figures in this period, produced in tandem with Turkey’s leading manufacturers, have resulted in a body of work that possesses such a degree of internal rigor that it is possible to speak of the beginnings of a language for design in Turkey. Whether it is in the unique products for Turkish companies or objects produced by national and international brand names, in the analysis of this period we can see that design in Turkey and by Turkish designers worldwide is in the midst of making a distinctive addition to global design.

From the mid 2000s right up until today we can see that the original and innovative qualities of this work have resulted in significant attention on international platforms for contemporary design in Turkey. Design from Turkey and by Turkish designers has gained awards in important competitions and received the attention of major publications, showing the creative and commercial value of design in a period of economic growth for the country. But what has yet to be explained is what exactly is behind the dynamics of contemporary design in Turkey. What is the conceptual basis of design in Turkey? What currents of culture, from traditional to material and economic, have determined its forms and identities?