Archive for May, 2013
These are just a few of the people who stood out over the last little while. People who inspired me with their professionalism. It’s not what they wear to work but the way they work their personal style, making hard work look all the more rewarding. I’d like to buy you all a nice cold beer.
You’re the colour of renewal, of life. As the sun leeches the blue out of you, you succumb to a sickly, yellowish tinge. But while you’re at your best, vibrant and deep, you’re flexible, beautiful, strong and limber, fresh and true. Stay good. Stay green.
Last day at the seaside. Last day of plucking mulberries from the trees. Last day of squawking back at the peacocks, of you asking, “What’s that?” To which I answer, “Dinosaurs.” It might take a couple of days, but I guess we all have to return to reality sooner or later. Some of us have school to finish, including an end of year show. Others have jobs to return to. Paradise doesn’t come free. At least not yet. Here are a few glimpses that I hope will stir happy memories in the years to come.
We’re taking a few days to go back to the source of much happiness. The Mediterranean Sea, stone and sunlight called to us in the early days before you were born, Sof. In fact it was the site of our first vacation. There are few spots more dreamlike, and now you too have fallen under its spell. The primeval call of peacocks rings in the trees. Orange trees shade us from the midday Sun. Salads so rich in flavour you can see that vegetables do more than add colour to the plate. But best of all mornings so suffused in light you feel you’re awakening to the true promise of the universe. I hope you’ll bring your children to paradise too, Sof.
The cat’s expression at the top of this post says it all. It’s been a while, so I’m trying to get back in the swing of things by tramping around Çukurcuma, peering up, down, backwards and sideways as well as into windows to reignite my creative spark. Not much luck, today, I’m afraid. I’ve retreated to Holy Coffee to see if some java can reignite my curiosity. Some days you just have to trust that Istanbul is keeping her real treasures curtained for a purpose that is beyond your ken. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. That, and the day’s, not over, right?
I’ve always admired people who can make music. There’s something about them, as if their minds existed in two or more universes simultaneously. Which makes me think that the people who craft musical instruments for professionals must be attuned to some truly special wavelengths. On Friday I happened to meet such an exceptional guy, someone who has been creating instruments since his mid-teens. While he’s now approaching 30, he has the keen gleam in his eye of someone who is making a living doing exactly what he loves. A self-described “gypsy” originally from Albania, Briken Aliu came to Istanbul with no friends and no Turkish as a teenager and has since set himself up as a preeminent musical instrument artisan, first apprenticing with Murat Sezen. While the economy has had an impact on his trade, at any one time he’s working on at least 6-7 projects, including a remake of a guitar that Django Reinhardt favoured. His expertise isn’t restricted to any particular style, either. He’s adept at fashioning Balkan instruments, electric guitars, jazz, classical, bass — you name it. Mr Aliu loves music, which is probably how he infuses such spirit into his work. His custom projects usually take about 3 months to complete. To see more from this gifted craftsman, please visit Briken Guitars. He’s making the music of our sphere more beautiful one note at a time.
Yesterday I had an all too brief glimpse into the mind of one of the most fascinating creatives in Istanbul — someone who successfully blurs the line between art, architecture, design and craft — in what might well be the most distinctive style I’ve seen anywhere in years. At some point I will have to do a full exploration and profile of Sema Topaloglu’s Cibali workshop and showroom. Her work environment is a veritable wonderland of organic shapes and materials, prototypes and projects. You’d almost think you were standing in a special effects workshop for a motion picture, except that the materials are not made of foam and cardboard, and she’s not creating illusions, so much as fabricating a new physical reality in media such as Black Sea hardwood, raw iron, glass and marble. There are huge mushroom lamp models, wood blocks representing a neighbourhood planning project she’s working on, multi-level tables … glass and iron objects all coated in a layer of sawdust fresh from her usta‘s saw table. There are so many compelling things to look at that it’s hard to isolate your focus to one spot. Furniture swings open to reveal elaborate tool bits that look like a chest of ninja throwing stars. Although I’ve written about Sema before, she hasn’t been standing still for more than a nanosecond since I last saw her. She’s too busy blurring the lines between what creativity and professionalism, art and architecture, design and craft can be. Take a look at some of Sema’s projects here.
Elle Turkey did a 2-page story on my office style for May, which was generous of them on two fronts. First because I don’t really have an office. Second because they believe a scruffy looking fellow in a beaten-up hat has style. The title of the piece is “I don’t believe in rules.” This probably explains how the sole heir to my grand empire, a young lady possessing superior style, managed to charm both the Elle editor and photographer and steal the spotlight. Nice work, Sof.