The London Design Festival is well behind us now, but other creative celebrations continue. Cardiff is still in the throes of its annual designfest and the likes of Barcelona and Tokyo are set to kick off their ‘designers’ weeks’ later this month. Meanwhile, Beijing is preparing for its inaugural event next year, to be held in partnership with our own LDF.
Last week though it was Turkey’s turn, with the fifth Istanbul Design Week held at an inspired choice of venue – the disused Old (or Eski) Galata Bridge across the Golden Horn waterway – in the city that is the 2010 European capital of culture.
Despite its considerable traditional heritage, manifest in the palaces of the old Ottoman empire, the mosques and bazaars, Turkey has emerged this century as a design-conscious nation. Manufacturers such as bathroom company Vitra with its Ross Lovegrove commissions and family furniture firm Derin are among those that have made it on to the international stage.
Meanwhile, local talents such as the much feted Autoban, Koray Malhan, Erdem Akan, Sule Koc and Serhan Gurkan are making an impact globally. Their work featured among the IDW’s ’40 under 40’ show Design Spirit, held at the city’s Old Hat Factory – now converted into a design centre by IDW organiser DDF, and housing its design studio and ad agency offices, close by a derelict site that is soon to be transformed into a museum by architect Zaha Hadid.
Youth is a big thing in Istanbul, with a high proportion of the population aged under 30. This was reflected in the number of Turkish design schools exhibiting on the bridge – with a strong leaning towards furniture and product – and a live workshop running throughout the IDW where 30 local students worked in three interdisciplinary teams to create concepts for the Istanbul taxi cab, living in temporary accomodation on the bridge for the duration of the project.
At the other end of the scale, design champion W Hotels staged the W Istanbul Young Designers Contest with IDW and American Express, inviting entrants to redesign it’s Munchie Box of snacks available to hotel guests.
The taxi cab is one of the transport improvements mooted for Istanbul, that is running the new RTE 2009 train, designed by Zafer Ulucay, on the street in its year as culture capital. And the year has attracted design celebrities such as Karim Rashid, architect Massimilliano Fuksas and Isao Hosoe, all of whom spoke at the IDW.
But there is a common touch too and organisers of the European Year of Culture already has a legacy sussed out. On 1 January 2011 Istanbul football club Galatasaray is due to move into a new stadium, designed by Eren Talu with HOK Sportif Architecture. A great finish.