The following recommendations were written by Özlem Er. The recommendations were further expanded upon by the chief-editor, Teike Asselbergs. In 2010, Teike held interviews with experts in the field of design and her additions are based on recommendations given by the interviewed experts.
Turkish companies’ eagerness to establish links with potential buyers in the advanced countries and the manufacturing capacity of the country may provide opportunities of collaboration for both the Turkish and Dutch parties. As it is, there is too little collaboration between Turkey and the Netherlands in the field of design. The EVD (Economische voorlichtings dienst) published a report which noted that there are opportunities for collaboration. The quantity of design products and services currently circulating between Turkey and the Netherlands is too low.
Stimulate Dutch-Turkish collaborations aimed at a certain target market
The Turkish designers are expectedly critical of efforts by foreign design consultancy companies to enter into the Turkish market. The negative approach can be turned into a positive one by generating business proposals which would benefit all parties involved. One approach may be to form alliances aimed at a certain target market. Alliances on the basis of complementary know-how in special areas of expertise such as in usability studies, human factors, sanitary ware or office furniture design may be another form of collaboration. The work experience of Dutch design companies for the leading companies of the world and in advanced market economies with demanding and sophisticated consumers puts them in an advantageous position for potential Turkish clients wanting to have a presence in those markets. On the other hand, the differences in work styles, language and cultures constitute barriers for collaboration. Factors mentioned by earlier studies on the nature of relations between design consultants and client companies such as the existence of trust and personal chemistry are also very important in the Turkish context. Word of mouth recommendation, previous credentials are also very important factors to be connected with Turkish company owners. Establishing local connections seems to be essential for any foreign parties to do business in Turkey.
Make more use of Turkish local production base
It is possible to talk about an attitude change among Turkish designers towards the local context that despite all its deficiencies (Turkey has a large domestic market but the purchasing power of its domestic consumers is relatively low, clients do not use design as much as they should to create added value and ‘silent design’ and copying are still widespread) it is also the main medium for differentiation as a rich source of new problem definitions and design solutions, new forms of practice and inspiration which may also be valid for the global context. The existence of a relatively inexpensive local production base is such an advantage that some designers take advantage of. Dutch designers can also benefit from this relatively inexpensive local production base. In the Netherlands there are few places where models or small series can be produced. In Turkey it is possible to go from sketch to finished product (or model) within five days. This requires a way of working where the designer collaborates with a master craftsman (mostly medium-tech production) or a system of self-organizing ateliers. For Dutch designers both cost benefit as well as the experience to produce a product in another way can be attractive, especially if transport of the finished product to the Netherlands would be cheaper (see transport).
Support collaborations in design education
Although a growing number of industrial design departments can be considered as a positive development, given the shortage of academic staff in industrial design in many of these departments and other shortages such as the necessary investment for the hardware of the industrial design education such as prototyping facilities, it is impossible to evaluate this phenomenon positively. It seems that with a few exception, private universities open industrial design departments without careful planning as a popular study subject to attract students, in any case a higher number than the demand. Graduates of Turkish design schools started to find employment fitting to their area of expertise, but the employment rates are still far from the satisfactory level. There are opportunities for Turkish-Dutch collaboration in design education. There are already collaborations between Turkish design departments and TUDelft and Eindhoven Technical University. In the Netherlands designers are more experienced in setting up their own companies and production and developed alternative models for production, distribution and sales of smaller series. This experience and knowledge can be of benefit to Turkish design students and graduates. Design management and education of design managers also needs to be further developed in Turkey and the Netherlands is perceived as being strong in design management.
Let New Turkish designers show in the Netherlands
A new phenomenon can be mentioned as the emergence of a new type of consumer seeing design as a means to express his/her identity. This in turn is a positive development for designers to develop their own styles and find customers for their work. Another recent phenomenon is the opening of boutique design companies by recent graduates and designers selling their work in different channels such as local art and design fairs and the internet (i.e. Burcu Büyükünal, Ayça Büyükçınar). Turkish design consultancy companies such as Demirden Design, Oya Design, Maybe Design, Omlet Istanbul and Aykut Erol Design have created their own collections and sell them through various marketing channels both in Turkey and abroad. While some of these companies work with Turkish manufacturers and suppliers, some have worked with foreign companies. Turkish designers developing their own styles may be artistically interesting to invite to the Netherlands for presentations.
Support more projects focused on design and jewellery made by amateurs
Amateur design activities are concentrated on jewellery, ceramics and textiles design. There are some temporary venues such as Paz-Art organized in a park in Cihangir district which is located next to Tophane and Beyoğlu. This has become a centre for art and for design related venues and activities. Some other districts such as Ortaköy and Kadıköy also house permanent and temporary venues for amateur and/or semi-professional design work. A new trend is to use the internet to exhibit and sell the outcomes of amateur design activities.
In addition to sometimes a very high quality design activity which can be categorized as semi-professional, there are many people producing low quality design work as it may also be the situation in many other countries. Kunstfactor may want to look into possibilities to enable collaboration between Turkish and Dutch amateurs in projects dealing with jewellery, ceramics and textiles design.
Explore the opportunities of the quality of craftsmanship in Turkey for design
The quality of craftsmanship even on amateur level is simply amazing. The skill and attention given to handiwork and the number of people, mostly women, is substantial. As there is not a high quality craft design education with an emphasis on creative interpretation of old mediums of work, there are not many people who are equipped with both the necessary skills of the crafts and creativity. In this respect, one can mention the İznik Çini Foundation as an important step not only to preserve the old ceramics design tradition of the historical town of İznik, but also to develop it with creative input. It would be interesting to compare and bring together İznik Çini Foundation with Dutch ceramics firm Royal Tichelaar in Makkum. Especially in the context of the Iznik tile exhibition planned by Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
Organize debates on Turkish and Dutch design identity
The search for Turkish design identity is discussed in design circles both in Turkey and abroad. In 2007, a group of Turkish designers participated in the Milan Furniture Fair with an exhibition called İlk (First) in Milan: ‘Turkish Touch in Design’ sponsored by a prominent office furniture manufacturer, Nurus. The bilingual book (Turkish and English) which accompanied the Exhibition titled ‘Turkish Touch in Design: Tasarıma Türk Dokunuşu’ written by Gökhan Karakuş, dealt with the question whether there is a distinctive Turkish design identity. The case of ‘Dutch design’ identity and the sophisticated infrastructure to position Dutch design and designers could be of interest to Turkey. Dutch design is not well known in Turkey because Italian design is the benchmark; even Scandinavian design is better known than Dutch design. Both the promotion of Dutch design products and Dutch design as example in successful branding of a national design output, could be beneficial to enhance Turkish interest in Dutch design. Istanbul based reference stage Babylon is open to exhibit or create some event around Dutch Design.
Explore Dutch and Turkish collaborations on a common (artistic) theme
Another issue of discussion is whether design is done for the needs of the industry or for cultural consumption. Some exhibitions were organized that brought designers together giving them themes to work on. An interesting initiative was the formation of a group of independent designers based in Istanbul to organize a design exhibition entitled ‘Barbarlar Sofrası’ (Barbarians’ Banquet) on the occasion of the Istanbul Design Week 2007 (Babadağ et al, 2009). The subject of this Exhibition was to create unique design objects for a mock banquet of polyamide objects using Rapid Manufacturing and Prototyping technologies. Likewise Dutch and Turkish designers may be brought together and work on a common theme.