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21 June 2011
The Autoban Story
Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar of award-winning studio Autoban have not only created design buzz in Istanbul – their signature works have put them on the world map.
The number of hip retail stores, restaurants, cafes and hotels along the Bosphorus is growing, thanks to the creative efforts of Istanbul-based designers Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar.
The pair, who started out designing the interiors of cafes and restaurants in the historical city before making the "rational extension" into furniture, leapt onto the international stage a mere year following the establishment of their studio in 2003, receiving the 'Best Young Designers' award from Wallpaper magazine in 2004 and the keen attention of design watchers.
Indesignlive.asia caught up with Seyhan Özdemir during her first trip to Singapore last month. The busy designer was in town with Luis De Oliveira, co-founder of De La Espada (the company that produces Autoban's furniture pieces), to attend an event at Dream Interiors, which carries its products in Singapore.
The House Cafe
"We have 5 different retail projects going on right now. We also have so many hotel projects, some pending," says Özdemir.
The firm is also working on a unique residential project called Nef, the first of its kind in Istanbul.
"It's a residence for young professionals. In Istanbul we live in a large space. The smallest house is 100 sqm. My own house is 350 sqm. But Istanbul is growing. So many people live in it. So we have created small rooms with a bathroom, a kitchenette and a living room in 50 sqm. Outside of the building is everything else like a sports house, playroom and party room. You pay as you use, and if your friends come to stay with you, you can rent another room. It's like a hotel."
Another unique project currently underway is an uber-stylish dormitory for students.
"Similar to Nef, these are like hotel rooms which students can rent," says Özdemir.
When completed at year-end, the Autoban-designed dormitories will have a wide range of amenities such as restaurants, a gym, a library, a lounge area, and a rooftop pool.
Autoban's interior and architectural projects, and product designs are like pieces of a puzzle. "For me they fit each other. They have to be together," says Özdemir.
"Most of our projects and all our products have a very strong identity. They tell a story."
In furniture, Autoban has a clear preference for natural materials, and while the firm is inspired by the city's distinctive melting pot of cultures and history, the designs themselves cross the boundaries of culture and time to playfully reinterpret the familiar.
De La Espada