Studio Sahil sources sand from geographic regions around the world to bring their Sand to Glass series to life. Their work—hand-blown vases and glassware, among other things—is made with sand-to-glass infusion techniques offering unique patterns and textures, and at the same time creating a haptic experience to reconnect the user to nature. For their Bowl with Sahara Sand, for instance, the London-based glass artists used sand from the Sahara Desert in Africa.
Istanbul-based design studio, Uniqka, creates sustainable handmade products that, beyond their functional nature, bring interior design objects to mind. Posta, for example, made by designer Bilge Nur Saltik is not your regular hanging storage unit: featuring tobacco-brown leather with brass details, it bleeds elegance and style, enhancing and elevating any room decor. Elsewhere, Fibonacci numbers determine the shape of a pendant that has reflective and slick surfaces of bronze. “Fibonacci is a celebration of the mathematical that is hidden in the elegant,” says designer Eli Bensusan of contemporary jewelry design brand, Neferka, also based in Turkey.
These are a small fraction of the plethora of unique home goods and accessories featured at Chicago-based design studio, Kollektif, which was founded to work with independent designers from around the world and create one pronounced voice—a “kollektif.”
“My work as an interior designer, sculptor and product designer has always involved exploring different materials, fabrication methods and human interaction with objects and places,” says Kollektif founder Ceyda Akosman Hunt. “On top of that, being from Istanbul, Turkey, I loved working with creative talents from different cultures and experiences,” she says. “In 2018, I had just become a mother and left my job, clueless of where my career was heading. It was stressful. I thought maybe this little gap was my opportunity to take the lead and create a community of independent designers from different parts of the world,” she says. “At the end of the year, I reached out to a fellow designer in Istanbul and asked if he would like to be a part of this new idea. ‘Absolutely,’ he said.”
This was only the beginning for Hunt, who’s had a single mission since: “With like minds, creative souls and innovative hands, our goal is to transform life’s landscape with each designed object. Today, we work with ten designers from various backgrounds who are inherently curious and creative,” she says. “We enjoy working with small studios, emerging designers who care for the environmental impact of their work, as much as the creative and utilitarian aspect of it. Materials they work with and manufacturing processes play a big part.”
From accent furniture, to textiles, to ceramics and to jewelry, Kollektif provides a well-rounded collection of carefully produced and deliberately curated objects. But what goes into the decision-making process? “We look for objects that ignite curiosity,” Hunt says. “What I mean by that is, let’s say you’re looking at a chair, thinking ‘It’s pretty, I like it.’ That’s not enough of a reaction. We want people to look at a chair and have the immediate impulse to interact with it, try it, touch it… Look underneath and wonder how it’s made. Ask questions about it, like ‘Hey what’s the story behind this piece?’ or ‘What’s it made of?’ I guess we can say that the curiosity within the designer that created the object should also bring out curiosity within the end user.”
The process keeps Hunt inspired. “I’ve always been fascinated by earthly materials, such as wood, glass, metals or stone,” she says. “It’s more natural for me to take a material as the subject, experiment with it, explore what it does, how it can be manipulated. Or how it can manipulate my thinking.” This is why curiosity and discovery are woven into the fabric of the brand. “Driven by curiosity in form, texture, craft and human experience, each concept begins with a unique narrative, taking us on a journey of discovery, with many paths leading us to the final composition. Within Kollektif, our conceptual differences, derived from lives truly lived, create a diverse environment that drives curiosity through the fabric of our everyday process. This ignites vision, innovation and creativity.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Hunt knows where she stands. “We’re pushing for growth and support of independent designers through mindful consumerism. This happens by encouraging individuals and industry leaders to buy thoughtful design,” she says. “We live in a very fast world. When you order something online, it’s at your door the next day. You use the product then toss it; everything is disposable. This habit of ‘fast and now’ pushes independent designers’ work out of the picture—it only helps corporations to grow even more. But if you could wait a little longer, you would be investing in a line of products that are actually going to engage with your audience, products that are environmentally sustainable, and you would be supporting a small business that truly works out of passion.”
Can design really help change the world? “Design has always changed the world by changing human behavior,” she says, saying that it is the design of your apartment, the design of the objects you interact with that shape your habits. “We need to have more awareness as consumers and designers. That’s why we need people to invest in objects that they feel connected to,” she adds. “Don’t dispose, collect. Slow down a little bit, take your time before you purchase and look for the right product that speaks to you. That’s when you actually care for an object and use it for years to come.”
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