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A search for Turkish identity


The identity issue was the theme of the seminar program in the context of the Product Design Exhibition (Designers’ Odyssey 1998) organized by the Industrial Designers Society of Turkey (ETMK). The title of the seminar was “Problems of Local Design Identity in Newly Industrialized Countries in Relation to Global Design”. The presentations given during this seminar were later published in a special issue of ArchiScope, a leading magazine of the time focusing on architecture, design and technology. Balcıoğlu’s piece (1999) in this special issue attempted to categorize how Turkish designers were exploiting culture.


In 2007, a group of Turkish designers participated in the Milan Furniture Fair with an exhibition called ‘İlk (First) in Milan’. This exhibition was sponsored by the prominent office furniture manufacturer Nurus. The bilingual book (Turkish and English) titled “Turkish Touch in Design: Tasarıma Türk Dokunuşu” which accompanied the Exhibition dealt with the question whether there is a distinctive Turkish design identity (Karakuş, 2007).


This subject was also dealt with by some young design academics (e.g. Kaygan, 2007). On the 29th of June 2007, a seminar was organized by the Istanbul Technical University Department of Industrial Product Design in collaboration with the design magazine ICON under the title of “Turkish Design – Identity, Discourse and Ideology” to discuss whether there is a distinct Turkish design identity or whether it is constructed as a marketing tool. The identity issue continues to be a subject of interest among the design academics as there is an internal and external demand to analyze the products designed in Turkey (e.g. Özcan, 2009; Timur Öğüt, 2009; Bağlı and Timur Öğüt, 2009; Er, H. A., 2009).