Scholar, designer and engineer. Co-founder of Ambiguous Standards Institute.
Holds a BSc degree in Electrical Engineering, MSc and PhD degrees in Industrial Product Design. He participated in the Digital Media MA program in HfK Bremen. He currently works at Loughborough University, School of Design and Creative Arts. His areas of research focus on critical design, cultural studies and the history of art and design.
His works and collaborative projects are exhibited in Istanbul, Jerusalem, Milano, Berlin, Chicago and Hong Kong. He has co-authored the book Daily Life Studies Publication No. 1 (2016) and curated The New Domesticity: Furniture Issue exhibition in Dutch Design Week 2016 in Eindhoven. His personal work was exhibited in It Was Your Toy That Was Broken in March 2020. His most recent work is Ambiguous Standards Institute's An Institute Within An Institute exhibition in Art Institute of Chicago (2021).
He is an occasional critic for DAMN and Monu magazines.
- The Propaganda Machine: The Truth Is Out Where?, Article, in conversation with Jonas Staal, DAMN Magazine, 78, Spring 2021, 29-37.
- Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything, Graham Harman, Penguin, Random House: UK; Editor for Turkish Publication, Tellekt, Istanbul, 2020.
- M(F)aking between finality and instrumentality, Design Unlimited, Spring/Summer 2018, 2(4), Turkey.
- ‘Stools as Tools: Tactical Units and Ways of Sitting in Public Space’, co-author Nur Horsanalı, Monu, Magazine on Urbanism #27, Autumn 2017, ISSN: 1860-3211, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
- ‘Gündelik Hayat Çalışmaları Yayın No. 1’, ‘Daily Life Studies Publication No. 1’, co-authors Cansu Cürgen and Oğul Öztunç, September 2017, İstanbul Bilgi University Publications, Istanbul, ISBN: 978-605-399-490-9.
- ‘The Bride's House or the Era of Hyper-Rituals’, in XXI Architecture and Design Magazine, June 2017, İstanbul Turkey.
- ‘The States of Openness: An Educational Perspective’, in Open Design For E-Very-Thing, co-author Cansu Cürgen, Cumulus Conference Proceedings, 21-24 November 2016, Hong Kong Design Institute and Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media, Hong Kong, ISBN:978-952-60-077-0.
- ‘Design in the Age of Planned Obsolescence’, in XXI Architecture and Design Magazine, June 2016, İstanbul, Turkey.
- ‘Tactics of Cultural Adaptation: Design and Production Characteristics of Toys in Istanbul’, with Şebnem Timur Öğüt and Artemis Yagou, The Design Journal, 19, 3, DOI: 10.1080/14606925.2016.1149380
Research and grants
- Toys in Inventory: Documenting Toys in Turkey in Three Phases, Research Project, Database (10000 USD), Funded by Istanbul Bilgi University, July 2018-February 2019, Turkey.
- ‘Design Chronology Turkey: Toys’, 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, Beatriz Colomina & Mark Wigley (cur.), 22 October – 20 November 2016, Istanbul, with Cansu Cürgen, Nur Horsanalı, Liana Kuyumcuyan and Günbike Erdemir.
- ‘The New Domesticity: Furniture Issue’, self-funded and published book, October 2016, Istanbul.
- History of Design: Design in the post-WWII Europe
- Critical Design Studios: Velocity, Domesticity, Plasticity, Electricity
- Metropolises and Design
- Design, Culture and Everyday Life
- Ambiguous Standards Institute, “An Institute Within An Institute”, Solo Exhibition, Art Institute Chicago, March-June 2021, Chicago, USA.
- Solo Exhibition, Jerusalem Design Week, 13-20 June 2019, Jerusalem, Israel.
- Exhibition (in A School of Schools), Luma Days, Luma Arles: Parc des Ateliers, 22-25 June 2019, Arles, France; C-Mine, June 28th – September 29th, 2019, Genk, Belgium; 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, “The School of Schools”, September 22nd – November 6th, 2018, curated by Jan Boelen, co-curators Nadine Botha and Vera Sacchetti, Istanbul, Turkey.
- It Was Your Toy That Was Broken, Solo exhibition, 6-27 March 2020, Istanbul Edebiyat Evi, Turkey.
- Dreamscapes: Hypercritical Dissections in Space, Curated Exhibition, 5-19 July 2019, Studio-X Istanbul, Turkey.
- Art Maker Lab, Learning Center for Kids, product and graphic design and implementation, client: Istanbul Modern Museum, December 18th, 2018, Istanbul, Turkey.
- The Crocodile, Stage Design, client: Das Das Theater, December 2nd, 2018, Istanbul, Turkey.
- Architectural Model Making In Turkey: A Tool For Thinking and Visualization, Exhibition design, furniture & lighting design, curator: Pelin
- Derviş, 17 November 2017- 19 January 2018, Studio-X Istanbul, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Istanbul, Turkey.
- ALT.Lounge, Interior design/conceptual design project, Client: bomontiada, co-designed with Şule Koç, September 2017, İstanbul, Turkey.
- Reprojecting Autoprogettazione?, Curated Exhibition, co-designed w. Cansu Cürgen, Görkem Özdemir, Open Design for Experiment, Cumulus Conference, 21-24 November 2016, Hong Kong.
- The New Domesticity: Furniture Issue, International Exhibition, Curation and Organization, 22-30 October 2016, Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven, Netherlands.
- 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial, “Are We Human?”, 22 October – 14 November 2016, Istanbul, “Toyscape” project, curated by Beatriz Colomina & Mark Wigley, exhibited in Studio X, İstanbul.
- An Open Design Experimentation: R-Autoprogettazione?, Exhibition Design and Coordination, 19 August – 9 September 2016, Studio-X, İstanbul, Turkey.
- IABA, 3rd International Architecture Biennial, 5 September – 30 October 2015, Antalya, “AgCc DES. ARCH. IND. T. CO. LTD. LOL” project, Antalya BECC
- 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial, “The Future Is Not What It Used To Be”, 1 November – 14 December 2014, Istanbul, “TWTRATE” project, design and implementation, curated by Zoe Ryan and Meredith Carruthers, exhibited in Galata Greek Primary School.
- Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park Focus Zones Idea Competition, June 2014, Mention, Çanakkale, Turkey.
- Dreams to Reality: Projections on Education, 13 March – 1 June 2014, Vitra Contemporary Architecture Series, Exhibition Design, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul.
- Take Something/Leave Something, April/May 2014, Interactive Installation, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul.
- 1st Istanbul Design Biennial, “Imperfection”, 13 October – 12 December 2012, Istanbul, “Instances of Imperfection” Exhibition in the Academic Program
- Railway Transportation Equipment, 2011, Street Tram Design Competition, Client: Istanbul Transportation Corp.
- Lowline, 2006. Stool, produced by Zenger, Exhibited in Milano Design Week 2007, Designmai Berlin 2007, Istanbul Design Week 2007.
- Istanbul Design Week, 4-10 September 2007, Istanbul, Participation in “Five Senses of Istanbul” Exhibition
- “Designmai” International Design Festival, 12-20 May 2007, Berlin, Individual Exhibition.
- Milan Design Week, 16-25 April 2007, Italy
- Participation in “Five Senses of Istanbul” Exhibition in Salone Sattelite
As a scholar and designer, I believe in the interconnectedness of everything and the unconscious practices of thinking, thus I don’t strictly differentiate between practices of art and design, research and teaching, theoretical and applied work, per se.
I am very much interested in the latent qualities and operations of everyday life. There are two critical aspects to this practice: Objects and archives. Existing objects, through their definitions and accumulation act as agents, to initiate debate. The aim is not to challenge or transform the discourse directly but create a medium to propagate discussion. I contemplate archive as a collection of objects -objects in their widest sense similar to the thinking of Object-Oriented Ontology -, which could be tangible and technical ones as well as intangible: Dreams (Dreamscapes: Hypercritical Dissections in Space, 2019), memories, ambiguous expressions, urban transformation tactics (Mixed Media on City, 2013-2019, to be published) and alike.
The artistic process is rarely a personal endeavour; thus, I am in the pursuit of unveiling the designed or formatted outcomes of collective production. My most recent work Ambiguous Standards Institute (ASI, 2018) is where these two important pillars come together to create a holistic structure in an environment of unconscious learning, archiving material, object-oriented approach, collaborative thinking, design and production. Through the accumulation and reorganization of everyday objects, banal fragments of diverse material cultures, ASI carries out a geopolitical and social analysis that touches several countries and is more interested in movements, agreements and relationships than in precise geographies.
A workshop (Instances of Imperfection, Vernal Workshops, 2012) I have conducted in collaboration with Tim Parsons from SAIC and exhibited in the 1st Istanbul Design Biennial, dealt with similar issues. This might even be seen as the starting point of my interest in objects and the artistic practice encircling them. There, we have investigated objects of everyday life with a special focus on their material and/or production-related imperfections and tried to find ways to reveal, emphasize, even glorify them.
I would either use the objects or their accumulation -collection- to reveal subtle phenomena or initiate debate; or alter them by injecting my technical, theoretical and aesthetic knowledge into objects which already exist, passive but transformable. Although I like to play with objects -including physical objects, but words, concepts and meanings as well-, I by no means try to force my own opinion onto others or create a new dogmatic discourse to follow blindly. I just want to ignite the thought process, I can never intervene in the path(s) that it will follow.
Arvatov asks: ‘How might artists contribute to a collective product or process? How might artistic creativity, …, be directed to the transformation of social appearances and the built environment? As such, in what ways is the artist now … a specialist in non-specialism,…, a producer of things and meanings across disciplinary boundaries and practices?’
My answer to this question is: By attending to the existing, the quotidian, the object, by collecting, accumulating archiving and cataloguing; by observing the urban environment and learning from it, eventually by the production of new material relations -or structures thereof- in which things will be divorced from the weight of their fetishization.