Seyhan Özdemir

Internationally renowned, Istanbul-based multidisciplinary design studio Autoban was founded in 2003 by Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar, and later joined by Efe Aydar. Autoban works across architecture and interiors, product and experiential design, forging a reputation for thoughtfulness, experimentation and craftsmanship. Approaching each project initially as storytellers, their work seeks to understand the character and context of each project. Each element is informed by a uniquely space-centric approach, blending wit with sophistication, and minimal forms with rich materials.

Seyhan Özdemir presented her work at Belgrade Design Week 

Mini Studio Magazin, Serbia 2010

When and how did you choose your profession?

I wanted to be an architect ever since elementary school. The need to create is something which people feel in different ways, I wanted to show it through architecture and design.

What’ s your definition of design? What’s your credo?

We tend to carry a narrative style, and develop each project as if it was a story, with a story- line of its own. We enjoy starting with a good architectural space and preferably one which has a past. By developing the space, continuing exist- ing stories and making the composition within it work well together, we also tend to show relevance to modern life in our work.

Do you believe that experience of consumer is the most important thing? And what about emotions?

We are known for designing pieces which have an emotional touch, and we believe in taking inspiration from our memories, experiences and In the office I receive and read plenty of magazines coming from all over the world, above all about design but not only.

Where do you get news from?

Mainly from the Web. It is absolutely the best instrument for information and communication.

What do you think of the mini STUDIO magazine?

Mini Studio Magazine is a “fresh” magazine, graphically edited and with nice images. regretfully I cannot read the content because I do not know the Serbian language. Surroundings when designing products. We use high quality materials which adds value to our products, and the hand-crafted aspect makes it all the more unique for the experience of the consumer. Some of our products remind us of childhood memories, Sledge is a good example of this. A newer design, Nest, has a protective shell, again playing with emotions.

Why did you named your studio Autoban?

When we decided to found our own company we decided that we didn’t want its name to be obvi- ously connected to design, or a particular sector of design. We wanted it to be connected subtly to a way of life which reflected what we do. We re- alised that when one drives on the highway, the road leads straight ahead, and occasionally there are junctions where you must make a choice whether to turn off or to keep going straight ahead. These choices are like the decisions we make in life, the fast pace of the highway is like the busy lives we lead, with the quick decisions which ultimately make us who we are. The way the word “Otoban” in Turkish comes from the German word “Autobahn” was also perfect for us as we wanted to run an international company, with a suitably international name.

Is Autoban gallery a kind of showroom strictly presenting your design?

Yes, The Autoban Gallery provides us with a showroom type space where visitors can view our products in our home town of Istanbul, and it also functions as a design shop for locals. All design work is done in our office, just a few doors down from the gallery.

You express yourselves at large scale of projects, tell me something about the most important and about architectural latest ones.

Most recently, in the year of 2009, we have com- pleted several projects in different sectors, including retail, restaurant, office and residential projects. These are The House cafe Kanyon, the – 10th cafe in the House cafe chain which is located within the valley-like structure of the shopping mall Kanyon. We recently completed the luxury fashion brand Vakko’s flagship store in Nişantaşı and also their store selling top brands from all over the world – v2k Designers. In terms of resi- dential projects we completed Ojeni Apartment, a compact, modern home in the historical centre of Istanbul, and redesigned Ayazpaşa House. Most recently, we have completed Zenovich, the new House cafe Suites. Architecturally, we are working on a residential development in Istanbul titled Nef36. Other than our ongoing local proj- ects, at the moment we have two interior projects abroad which are soon to be completed, one in Madrid and one in Hong Kong.

You are inspired by the chaos of the mega city, contrasts, contradictions and what else…?

We take inspiration from the lives we lead, not only the streetlife of the city, but also our travels and even from films. We believe it helps to be an all-rounded person with broad interests and experiences which one can reflect in design with an individual approach.

What will be a next challenge for you?

From products to interiors and architecture, every new project is a challenge for us. At the moment we feel quite involved with the world of art, and you might say that doing something more im- mersed in art is one of our next challenges.

Tom Strala

Insight Design Tom Strala

Christian Kerez

Insight Architecture Christian Kerez