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“What Inspires Design in Istanbul?” with Superpool: Becoming Istanbul at SALT Beyoğlu

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“What Inspires Design in Istanbul?” with Superpool: Becoming Istanbul at SALT Beyoğlu

[REPRINTED from The Grid (Global Site Plans), 9/14/2011]

On September 13, 2011, Gregers Tang Thomsen and Selva Gürdoğan, of Superpool, in collaboration with Project and Projects, lead a talk at SALT Beyoğlu entitled “What Inspires Design in Istanbul.”  The discussion revolved around the innovative project, Becoming Istanbul, which will run from September 13, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

During this three month event, ”two parallel programs [will commence], 90, a program of 90 events focusing on contemporary issues in Istanbul, and The Making Of Beyoğlu, a series of workshops examining the methodology and implementation of projects initiated in the city’s center.”  At “What Inspires Design in Istanbul,” Superpool explored the obvious and subtle design opportunities of the Becoming Istanbul installation.

  • 3-D calendar boxes: For each of the 90 calendar days that run for the period of Becoming Istanbul, Superpool designed 90 identically dimensioned boxes that were then uniquely painted 4 different colors, and dated, with the corresponding calendar
  • event stenciled on each box.  These boxes, doubling as seating for the talk, were created by local Istanbul craftsmen, going to show that the craftsman culture of Istanbul is still thriving, but simultaneously in need of protection from the encroachment of ill-designed and poorly-constructed mass-production. Gregers Tang Thomsen stated that “everyone should have access to well designed [pieces, although the reality is that] craftspeople are available, but [more expensive]. Selva Gürdoğan also advocated for a push for local. “Craftspeople are slowly being pushed out. … [we should] advocate for them because they are a vital part of the design community.”  During the talk there were 90-cubed “calendar seats” available to the mass that came to hear Superpool and Project Projects  speak, far too few seats for the mostly-standing crowd. Selva joked, “maybe we should have made more than 90 cubes for people to sit.”
  • LED lighting: LED lighting, which can be found throughout Istanbul shops, along with an abundant array of typography, is used throughout the Becoming Istanbul exhibit.  Superpool & Project and Projects found it to be a useful tool in displaying media, of which they chose a variety of LED background and lettering colors.
  • Beyoğlu map seating: The Beyoğlu map seating provided, among other design features, context for the exhibition. The plywood constructed map, created in Bayrampaşa, Istanbul, combined the use of the traditional with technology, proving et again that Istanbul is dynamic in its ability to combine the use of craftsmen and technology in creating unique designs.  The Beyoğlu map was translated from computer file to machine cut, eliminating the time intensive nature of hand-cutting plywood, but also weaving the craftsman into the process, through refinement. In a room separate from the “3-D calendar boxes,” the Beyoğlu map takes up about half of the floor space, as the 8 events that will take place in the room are featured on the walls, with dates and explanations in both English and Turkish. The Beyoğlu map, similar to the 3-D boxes, serve functional and design roles. The floor map serves as a low-seating area for individuals taking part in the 8 events during the three-month period. After the talk, while traveling throughout the “workshop” room, one could see the diversion of people to walk, sit, or interact with the functional Beyoğlu map.  Rather, individuals were waiting patiently for others to pass so they could avoid trotting on it.  The Beyoğlu map can lend itself to be seen as a scaled version of a town or city map seen in a variety of architecture firms or urban planning museums such as in Beijing or Shanghai, but one major difference here is that there isn’t a red rope surrounding the perimeter. So, if you get a chance to visit the Becoming Istanbul exhibit, don’t be afraid to interact with your surroundings. Take a seat, or a stand.

Stay tuned for the coverage of these Becoming Istanbul events:
What is the Architecture and Design Culture of Istanbul?: Sept. 17, 2011
The Making of – Plans for Beyoğlu: Sept. 17, 2011 

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