As the cultural, historic and economic hub of Turkey, Istanbul is brimming with creativity. With the Greek, Roman and Ottoman Empires as just some of the historic influences on the city, it’s easy to see how diverse design thrives in amongst the incredible architecture of these ancient civilizations. But an antique museum Istanbul is not. The city is a modern, moving feast of design that celebrates its culture and past, but certainly does not shy away from the avant garde and the unusual. Here are a few of the best design shops in Istanbul, places that showcase Turkey’s opulent past as well as its quirky and creative present.
Yastık by Rıfat Özbek
“Yastik means cushion in Turkish, and that is quite simply all we sell,” says owner Rifat Özbek of his Istanbul store. Cushions they are, but ordinary cushions they are not. The airy, contemporary layout of the store makes a perfect backdrop for the artful array of designs with fabrics sourced from all over Turkey and Central Asia – a nod to Istanbul’s unique location as a city spanning two continents. The sumptuous fabrics and unparalleled attention to detail make these cushions a must-see purely for their craftsmanship.
Yastık by Rıfat Özbek Address: Şakayık Sokak, No:13/1, Teşvikiye, Şişli, +90 212 240 87 31, www.yastikbyrifatozbek.com
Named for the iconic sweet treat, Turkish Delight with pistachios, this store has been in the same family for five generations and has hardly changed since it opened its doors in 1777. Haci Bekir is reportedly the first place to create the delicacy, but regardless of whether this claim is true, the flavors are as authentic as it gets and it’s unlikely you’ll ever find yourself in another candy store with a floor of Marmara marble.
Haci Bekir Address: Dumlupınar, Ankara Cd. No:76, 34896, +90 216 379 49 21, www.hacibekir.com
Now a leading worldwide brand in the design and manufacture of furniture, Koleksiyon originally started life in in Turkey. Their Istanbul store is an homage to everything the brand is renowned for – sleek, contemporary designs that muster a creative individuality and personality that other contemporary brands are so often lacking in. Be treated to a feast of colors, sounds and shapes, and admire the art and craft that goes into these unique pieces.
Koleksiyon Address: Cumhuriyet Mah. Hacı Osman Bayırı Cad. No:25 Sarıyer 34457, +90 212 363 63 63, www.koleksiyon.com.tr
The interior of this shop is a breath of fresh air with its living wall of greenery and artfully arranged knick-knacks. Half plant store, half café, Müz is a store that gets it right, from their perfectly brewed Petra Roasting coffee, to the music they play straight from their vinyl collection. Expect the unexpected here – each shelf has a different curiosity on it, often in the form of an exotic plant or uniquely shaped terrarium. Many of them are small enough to carry out of the store, so go in prepared to be leaving with something new.
Müz Address: Hayriye Cad. No18/A BEYOĞLU, +90 212 243 22 62, www.muz.se
One for the lovers of all things kitschy, quirky and totally unexpected, Karinca Design is a chain store dedicated to meeting your every unusual home accessory whim. Almost every household item you can imagine has had a touch of fun injected into it, from paper towel holders shaped as animals, to cups with angel wings as handles. Creativity comes into its own in this store, and you can look forward to spending a long time in here being continually delighted by the novelty items artists and designers have come up with.
Karinca Design Address: Şah Kulu Mahallesİ, Galip Dede Cd. No:24, 34421, +90 212 292 79 58, www.karincadesign.com
Turkey is a country to be visited with an open mind. Spanning two continents and with a plethora of cultures contributing to the city’s vibrant and colorful personality, Istanbul is a must-visit for any design lover. It’s a place best experienced through a blend of the old and the new, one that holds treasures you’ll never find on Amazon or anywhere outside of its unique position along the Bosphorus. Hopefully this list will help you weave your way through the magnificent historic architecture and creative design to see just how intrinsically linked they both are.
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