A Cultural Gateway Between East And West: A Guide to Contemporary Turkish Design

Photo of Sophie Finney
14 December 2016

Creating a new discourse in design, Turkey is fast becoming a cultural gateway between Europe and Asia. Drawing inspiration from both, this country is coming up with some ingenious ideas for the future of design. Culture Trip highlights the top ten contemporary design firms in Turkey.

In Turkey, design is being looked at in a new light. Turkish designers are beginning to think of ways in which materials and future lifestyles can drive design today. Since Istanbul was named the European Capital for Culture in 2010, Turkey has been transforming itself into a cultural hub, with the city holding its first design biennale in 2012. With a largely young population, this country is beginning to establish itself as a new home for design, creating for itself a fresh design vernacular. Lying across two continents, Turkey has a wealth of diverse culture and can draw from both Europe and Asia for inspiration.

© Nurus


Specialising in professional and office furniture, Nurus has over 85 years of experience in the furniture making industry. As a company, Nurus prides itself on creating design solutions that are both innovative and sustainable. A worldwide brand, the company has won a number of prestigious awards for their designs including Red Dot, Designpreis, Good Design and Design Turkey. Focusing on the individual needs of the person using the products, Nurus creates furniture that is comfortable and simple to use; considering itself a ‘one stop supplier’, the company creates a range of product groups and work systems for office spaces. By working with the client, Nurus’ office interiors are light, stylish, and enjoyable to work in.

© Adnan Serbest

Adnan Serbest

Although he began his career as a carpenter, Adnan Serbest later went on to found his own design company in 1986, which has been designing and manufacturing furniture on an industrial scale ever since. Creating a wide range of exquisite furniture, Serbest focuses on geometric shapes and lines combined with traditional materials. Modernism and Minimalism are two terms that are most certainly applicable to Serbest’s work; whilst taking influence from his materials, he does not let them restrict his creative abilities as a designer. His furniture, whilst simple in form, is highly expressive and unique; Serbest combines the creative energy of a designer with the precision and care for construction of a master craftsman.

© Koleksiyon


Koleksiyon was founded in a small metal workship at the OSTIM Industrial Estate in Turkey’s Capital, Ankara, in 1972 by designer Faruk Malhan. Considered to be a true melting pot of modern technology and craftsmanship, Koleksiyon designs and produces modern furniture for both home and office environments. The interiors that the design firm creates are stylish yet simple, with a calm feel to them that simultaneously exude luxury. With its own fully automated CNC controlled production line, Koleksiyon is able to produce a high volume of furniture without diminishing the quality in any way. By combining design technology, technical quality and specialist hand craftsmanship, Koleksiyon is clearly amongst the top furniture design companies of Turkey.

© Ilio


Created by a small team of designers from Istanbul, ilio combines cutting-edge contemporary designs with the ancient traditions of hand-worked glass. The glassware they create has both a timeless beauty as well as a contemporary feel to it, and lends a stylish elegance to the table. Drawing inspiration from natural surroundings and Istanbul’s creative past, the products have a luxurious feel to them and successfully fuse elements of both Eastern and Western design and glass-making traditions. All of ilio’s crystal and glassware are made in factories of Beykoz Glass. As a company, they have been honouring glass-making traditions ranging from Murano glass-making techniques to ancient techniques from the East. With a deep involvement in the heritage of glass-making and of Turkey, ilio’s pieces are beautiful in their simplicity.

© Antrepo


Founded by Mehmet Gozetlik, Antrepo is a multidisciplinary design consultancy that creates unique design ideas for forward-thinking people. With a clear vision for the future, Antrepo looks to use design as a means for changing people’s perceptions about the world around them. This is visible in the I’m Not a Solar Panel mirror. Designed to look like a solar panel, this mirror is meant to make you think about the future of energy sources. Additionally, it is made from recycled material thus furthering its point about sustainability, something that Antrepo feels strongly about as a company. Always with an important message and a sense of fun, Antrepos designs serve a multitude of purposes ranging from the thought provoking to the literal use of the product.

© Designnobis


A centre for sustainable design, Designnobis aims to introduce innovative solutions into product design, branding and space creation. With control over every design phase from research and concept development through to prototyping and production, sustainability is the key focus. Creating design solutions that preempt any potential problems within a space, Designnobis offers a total design service to assist with everything from brand image to office environments. This is visible in the Eco Bench product. A bench that is made from recyclable materials and is lightweight and easily stackable. With a simple and efficient approach to design, Designnobis’s team also aims to imbue their products with both functionality and a sense of appeal; contributing to a national and global industry, their products are both strategically and economically sound.

© Autoban


Based in Istanbul, Autoban is a design studio concerned with developing both architectural and interior projects, as well as engaging in product design. Founded in 2003 by Seyhan Ozdemir and Sefer Caglar, this company has grown over the last decade to a team of 35 designers and architects who collaborate on both local and international projects. Concentrating on progressive design solutions with an experimental standpoint, Autoban’s projects adhere to the basic principles of modernism and range in size from small to large scale interior spaces. Additionally, Autoban has won a number of awards for its products, which are being sold internationally, as of 2012. Whether working on a private or public project, Autoban’s design team bring their individual flare and style to create a truly unique space.

© Lab Istanbul

Lab Istanbul

The team at Lab Istanbul aim to finish all commissions with a creative design process and with the utmost care for the client’s wants and needs. Providing their design expertise to architecture, product design, and interior design, Labistanbul’s team lend themselves to a wide variety of projects, both public as well as private. Their attention to the client’s wishes is evident in all their projects, an example of which is the Finar Café, designed for the employees of Finar Enformasyon Derecelendime ve Danişmanlik Hizmetleri. As a café for company employees, this had to be a space that was both cosy and relaxing, where the workers could feel at home. Labistanbul managed to create such an atmosphere by dividing the space into comfortable reading corners, including a library, and using long tables that encourage people to sit together. A warm and friendly atmosphere, Labistanbul’s creation adhered perfectly to the client’s requirements.

© Zift


Established by Lütfi Büyüktopbas in 2006 and based in Istanbul, Zift Design brings a fresh perspective to product design. Giving everyday objects and furniture a twist, their creative collections certainly stand out from the crowd. As well as innovative product design, the designers behind Zift Design also work on bespoke interior design projects ranging from apartments, to offices, to yachts. Highly modern in appearance and yet by no means minimalistic, Zift Design’s furniture is fun and bright and often surprising; the Renk mirror and table combine art with utility. The mirror functions perfectly as such and the table provides a useful platform. However, upon closer inspection, one can see that there is a painting hidden inside the mirror itself, thus turning it into a piece of art.

© Karre


A furniture and product design studio based in Istanbul, Turkey, Karre dates back to the 1950s when it was founded by Sadi Ozis, a Turkish designer, painter and sculptor. Originally a metal atelier, Kare Metal was one of the first companies to produce metal furniture on a large scale in Turkey. At the time Ozis and his partner, İlhan Koman, were interested in the prospects of metal sculpture, however this proved unpopular and they had to look for alternative means of income. This was when they turned to metal furniture. Although 60 years have passed since then, the designs are classic with a timelessness to them that lends itself to modern interiors. The company was closed in 1966, but given the timelessness of the designs, they are still being recreated under the name Karre in collaboration with Neptun Ozis, the noted Yacht designer.

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