ISTANBUL - The Design Weekend, organized for the first time in Istanbul, kicks off today. Although the promotion and advertising for the event have been weak, participants are excited to display their pieces. The festival includes architecture and design offices, restaurants, shops and markets.
The Istanbul Design Weekend 2009, a fresh event that is being organized for the first time, will appeal to eyes, ears and palettes. The project, led by Dream Design Factory, which has headquarters in Turkey and in London, will feature the theme "Mediterranean Design Between the Past and Future."
The organization, which was highlighted in the Financial Times last week under the title "Young Turks," will start today and continue through Sunday. The weekend’s design hubs consist of four main spots, which are Taksim-Beyoğlu-Galata, Şişli-Nişantaşı-Akaretler, Etiler-Levent-Sahil, Beylerbeyi and Haliç. Yet there is one big problem. People are unaware that the activities are going on this weekend.
Even though Dream Design Factory is organizing the festival with a foreign partner, Zona Tortona Design from Milan, who has experience with such events, there is a lack of promotion and advertisement. The event is planned for 70 venues involving nearly 360 designer’s works, but it has yet to set Istanbul locals in motion. "Normally the organizers of the events and festivals inform us," the headman of the Beyoğlu Şahkulu district said, whose office is next to Galata Tower.
"Galata Fashion Week and Design Week have finished. They are already over, and we have not heard of anything called Design Weekend," Sayim Çavuş said, and he is not the only one who is unaware of the design activities. Restaurant managers, marketers and staff at bookstores in Beyoğlu and Galata districts also did not know about the Istanbul Design Weekend.
Promotion should start one year before the event
Many local shop owners said they had never heard of it. Maybe the reason is because it is Design Weekend’s first year, but participants agree that the introduction is weak. The young owners of the retail and product design office Lunapark said for many of the international design festivities, the promotion starts one year before so that people around the world, especially those who are into design, can schedule their programs according to the event.
Bertan Berk and Murat Tamgüç opened their office five years ago and moved to the Galata district’s Serdar-ı Ekrem Street six weeks ago. They participate in many design organizations. At their office they will display their own work, which consists of lightning. "We like it that they included Galata district," Tamgüç said. Berk added, "People like design events to be out i or sometimes in a renovated factory. They don’t want to be stuck in an indoor venue."
Participants are happy to be included in the activities, but some of them are confused. One is the staff at the Galata Delicatessen. Mustafa Kalenderoğlu looked puzzled when asked about the festival. "The only thing I know, since I am only an employee here, is that Oya Erol’s porcelain works will be displayed here. They will hang them on the ceiling." The pieces, which will decorate the delicatessen’s ceiling while people shop for olives, ham or orange juice, will be on sale.
There are also two hip new restaurants, Mavra and Building, on the same street as Galata Delicatessen that are a part of Istanbul Design Weekend. Yonca Akçay, who owns and manages Mavra, said they are selling each piece of design work in the restaurant. "I am a ceramic artist and my husband is an architect so we display everything we make in our restaurant," she said.
According to Akçay there are many people who try to discover the back streets of Istanbul and Design Weekend will help them. One of the leading managers of the organization, Professor Esra Ekmekçi, who said the activities promote design in every corner of the city. "It is like design is wandering around the city," Ekmekçi said.
She said the promotion of the event has been ongoing on billboards around the city and that they woulddistribute promotional flyers during the event.