• Art / Design / Craft,  Food & Drink,  People

    craft brewers brau syndikat: zürich creators

    It began as a challenge. Craft beer aficionado Stephan Györi (wearing glasses) wasn’t happy that Heineken was not just dominating the Swiss marketplace but the taps at the restaurant where he was a chef. So he and his friends decided to invest themselves in creating a custom beer. It was a success. Not only did he knock Heineken from the taps, now, a few year’s later, he and his partners at Brausyndikat have placed 9th in Falstaff Magazine‘s ranking of Swiss craft brewers. Today, with a proper space allocated to brew they still haven’t lost the handcraft touch, bottling and labelling their lineup of malted beverages with a decidedly human touch. Using a self-made bottling contraption which fills four bottles at a time, it’s something of a laborious process. While Philip fills the bottles, Oli caps each fresh bottle. Stephan meanwhile is strictly monitoring the temperatures on the Mash Tun.…

  • Food & Drink

    cold day, warm welcome: inä cafe

    There are days when the land seems drained of warmth, the sky of colour and any plans to find a bright spot of inspiration go completely amiss. Stumbling around Saturday was just one of those days. Perhaps I am imagining things but even the local creatures seemed to look at me askance as if to say: WTF, man, sensible people are elsewhere. We’d be indoors, given the option. Swans are usually a bit surly. However, the horse above really seemed to want to have words with me. Then I tripped across İNÄ a spot to wrap my chilled fingers around a cup coffee. Part concept store and part cafe there is a relaxed air of fun here. Then, this will no doubt surprise those of you who know me, I decided to see what craft beer was on offer. Big thanks to the über friendly folk at cafe İNÄ who also introduced me…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    all natural beauty from turkey – atolyia

      Here’s a small sample of photos from a lifestyle shoot I did here in Istanbul with some stunning all-natural textiles hand-loomed right here in Turkey for Atolyia. The shots, which are being used for mail-outs and for the media will also soon adorn their new website too. The collection, which is produced using traditional methods, includes blankets, throws, hamam towels (pestemals), cushions and goat hair kilims all of which possess the sort of amazing lustre you can only really find in traditional craft textiles. On the two-day shoot I was also so fortunate to work with the multi-talented, knee-slappingly funny Selin Sönmez, a great friend from my days at 34 Magazine, as my stylist. With the combination of great content and a superb stylist, the photo shoot was really a rewarding experience. Atolyia (previously Hamamist) has been enjoying big success lately, growing from both online retailing and wholesale operations and will soon open a shop in Sydney, Australia where two of the partners currently live. I’m…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    briken aliu’s guitars

    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…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    old friends, new business: iznik works

    Whenever I’m in the Covered Bazaar there’s one place I choose to go to first — Dhoku. Not only do I find their modern take on the craft of kilim-making beautiful, I really like the family involved in creating and selling them. I can easily see a few hours disappear with no problem over a glass of tea. Today when I stopped by to see them, I saw that there was a new addition to the family. A brand new tile and ceramics store. One of the reasons I became friends with these guys is that I’ve always liked the way the Güreli family does business. They have a sense of humour and are plenty of fun and never pushy with sales. They’ve brought that same sensibility to life in their new venture, and are providing the full range of plates and tiles, from handcrafted and artisan to the more…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Osman Usta: the Master beneath the mosque

    I don’t know about you, but I like a well made shoe. In fact, I prefer a pair. These days, however, it seems you have to go to Italy or Spain to find a good handcrafted shoemaker … or so I thought. Skeptical? I was too. Despite a tip from my friend, Metin — a man of substance and style —I learned about a fine shoemaker in my own backyard. Much to my amazement, beneath Yeni Camii (New Mosque) in Yeniköy, there is, in fact, an artisan shoemaker. He is also turning out some extremely stylish men’s boots in supple leather and silky soft suede, and has been doing so for no less than about 50 years. To my embarrassment, I walked by his shop for almost two-and-a-half years without a second glance. Perhaps it’s because it seems like a relatively modest storefront and workshop. Let this be a lesson…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Nihat Usta

    At 79A Kumbaracı Yokuşu, the street that falls from Istiklal Caddesi to Tophane, exists a portal into a another world. This is the dükkan of master craftsman, Nihat Usta. Every day Nihat Usta boards the early morning motorboat to make his way from Anadolu Kavağı to his Pera workshop where he restores the most incredible furniture from another era. From his shop emanates a glow. Is it the materials like mother of pearl and wood that he works with? Or the aura of a man who can create something that much of us only dream of? In any case, there’s something vital as well as timeless (at least, I hope so) about this place. Let’s hope that businesses like Nihat’s thrive for years to come. They are something that keep the spirit of places like Beyoğlu from becoming artificial or feeling gentrified. Thanks for keeping it real, Nihat Usta.

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Dragon and his lamps

    Don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for workshops. I think it’s great to  see how people work, how they create. Today I went to the old city as we just move house and are in need of some new lighting. I decided to go old school, as in Ottoman old school. For some of my Turkish friends Ottoman touches around the house can feel a little kitsch, but I like an eclectic mix of contemporary and old, and one of the things I really enjoy, kitsch or not, are Ottoman-style lamps. In order to see if I could save some money, I decided to pay a visit to a han where I remembered seeing a lamp maker. At first, I thought he was gone but then I called out up the stair above the closed dükkan above and then then popped my head up the stair, where I…

  • Places

    Kuzguncuk Mahallesi

    THIS NEIGHBORHOOD BELONGS TO ANOTHER ERA OF ISTANBUL. Don’t know about you, but there are times I want to live an urban life without all the latté and fast food chains, which seem to be claiming more and more prime real estate and more and more of our everyday lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above using them, it’s just they get a little tiring, manufacturing the same experience over and over. That’s why I felt so refreshed the other day when I heeded historian Selin Barlas‘ advice and headed to Kuzguncuk. There wasn’t one branded paper coffee cup rolling around the streets, or simit chain store in sight. Instead there was relaxed local scene, where people clearly knew one another and weren’t in any hurry to be somewhere else. Kuzguncuk is a self-contained, functioning neighborhood with its own post office, a butcher’s, several bakeries and a host of…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Dhoku: rugs, reborn.

    One of Turkey’s most creative enterprises resurrects classic designs for a new century by taking rundown rugs, hard-done-by halis, and death row kilims and rehabilitating them for a chance to be trodden on all over again by the well-heeled. Five years ago it wasn’t always easy to find something genuinely Turkish and interesting for the home which was also genuinely different. Moreover, finding something to give to a Turk, who grew up surrounded by what a foreigner might consider new and exotic was even more of a challenge. Then an actress friend and neighbor introduced me to Mehmet Gureli and his original Ethnicon line of patchwork kilims.