What was it like quitting your London PR job and moving to Istanbul? Did you face any particular challenges during this transition?
Making the decision to move to Turkey wasn’t as difficult as some people might imagine. I’d been working quite successfully in the pharmaceutical PR sector, but I really didn’t like the industry much, so I was looking for something completely different to do with my life. I’ve always loved to travel, and I’d often taught children on a voluntary basis, so I found the combination of travel, teaching, and a magnificent city like Istanbul irresistible. I never really faced any challenges, unless you count learning the language, but even that was easier than I expected.
You’ve made quite a name for yourself in the wedding sector, establishing a reputation for highly creative and ambitious wedding concepts. How did you jump from teaching to wedding design? After having worked in so many different jobs, would you say that this is your calling in life?
After a couple of years teaching at a language school, I began teaching English at Hisar Schools in Kermerburgaz. Turkish children are very theatrical and love to mimic and perform, so I was surprised to see that the school didn’t have a school musical tradition. As a result, tapping into my own love of theater, I decided to direct and design a school production of Moulin Rouge. I was amazed by the level of enthusiasm from both students and parents, and one parent, in particular, Candan Kiramer, offered to help me realize some of my very ambitious theater sets and décor. The production was a huge success, and we went on to produce a second musical the following year, but by then, I’d decided I was ready to move on to something new.
When Candan heard that I was leaving the school, she and her business partner Bettina Hakko asked me to work for their events design company, BC Atelier, as their designer and Creative Director. I’m not sure if I can say that this is my calling in life, but I’m a big believer in destiny, and I really feel that this career was waiting for me 🙂
Tell us a little about the intricacies of your job. How does one go about designing a wedding, and what are the most important factors?
I always think the most important factor in starting to create a successful event is having the ability to listen to your client and really understand their needs. Sometimes a bride and groom are not able to describe the kind of event they want, so I ask questions about their lifestyle, hobbies, favorite places, etc. to help paint a picture of what they like. From there, I design a seating plan that shows the layout of the room and help them work out how they will seat their guests. In addition to this, I prepare a mood board which, if they are happy with the colors and inspirations, I use to create a hand-drawn visual of the final event décor. After this, it’s a continual process to keep honing and refining the décor until the project is fully fleshed out; I don’t believe in just going with an idea that a client is happy with if I can sense that something better can be done – some of my best ideas have come to me the day before production!
You are also an illustrator. How does this talent help you with your job in wedding design?
Weddings aren’t cheap, and I think it’s unfair to expect a client to agree to a décor without them fully understanding what you have in mind. In that way, being able to sketch and illustrate is a vital skill as it helps speed up the process and make decision-making much quicker. I also like to use my illustration skills to add personal touches to an event, whether it’s in illustrated invitation designs, details on menus, or even part of the room décor.
What are some of your most favorite weddings that you helped create so far?
I always enjoy weddings where I am given complete control to design every element of the event. For that reason, I really enjoyed designing a Marie Antoinette wedding for 550 people where I created an entire palace interior, complete with chandeliers, wood and mirrored walls, balconies, and even replica Sèvres plates. In addition to this, I always enjoy designing for our destination wedding events as I enjoy the challenge of working outside my comfort zone.
How is the culture around marriage different in Turkey than in England?
In England, we usually have a traditional ceremony in a church followed by a dinner in a different venue – the church is decorated with flowers, and the service is a much longer and more formal occasion than the typical Turkish wedding ceremony. Regarding wedding design differences between Turkey and England, in Turkey, our guests tend to use the same three or four large hotel ballrooms for their events, meaning if the bride and groom want a unique and memorable occasion, they need to spend considerable amounts of money and effort making it look different to previous events in the same venue.
In England, there are many more options for wedding venues, and even old palaces and castles can be hired for wedding events, meaning the venues themselves don’t usually need as much decoration.
What qualities do you think have helped establish BC Atelier as one of the best-known wedding design firms in the region? What do you think has set you apart from other companies?
Candan, Bettina and I work very well as a creative team – we each come from different backgrounds, countries, and cultures, and we have all traveled extensively, so I think it’s the combination of our different personalities and outlooks that really helps create something unique. We all have the same desire to create something original and unique for each of our clients, and we all share the same exacting attention to detail.
What are your plans for the future?
Besides my work for BC Atelier, I am working on various freelance projects both here in Istanbul and in the Middle East, and I want to start moving into a more freelance capacity for future events both here and on an international level.
In addition to this, I want to expand on my work as an invitation designer, and I’m currently working with a publisher to design a range of ready-made invitation concepts. Besides this, I am helping to curate a number of events, using my expertise to help companies refine their designs and concepts – I have lots of ideas; now I just need to find the time to fit them all in!
If you’re interested in planning your own dream wedding in Istanbul with Nick, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or +90 536 879 2446