Warhola: In addition to your work as an artist, you’ve been working and designing for institutions in the field of ceramics for more than seventeen years. As the Design Manager of Bien Ceramic Sanitaryware, do you come up with all the designs yourself?
Tolga Berkay: At Bien Ceramic Sanitaryware we have a Design and CAD/CAM department. As a team, we think that the design, research and development stages are very important. I work personally on all the designs, and we’re also a source of inspiration for other designers.
The Lotus Series that I designed for Bien with inspiration from Lotus flowers has received the “Platinum Award” last year at the “A’ Design Award and Competition” withheld in the Italian city of Milan, by “Como Cultural Department, The Bureau of European Design” (which is one of the notable organizations worldwide) in the “Decorative Products and Bathroom Category” that had 3653 design applications from 140 countries. Furthermore, the bathroom series titled “Fracture“ inspired by fragments of broken glass has received the “Golden Design” award. Yet another award is the “Best Bathroom Designer” award by ELLE Decoration Magazine in 2012, again for our Lotus series.
“What the world thinks about Turkish design has changed owing to our awards.”
As an example, last month I participated in the Milan design week, and I was flattered by what I saw there. As a result of the golden award I received for the Fracture series last year in Italy, I witnessed that there is a new trend of Fracture movement in Milan this year. Additionally I’m also coaching junior designers. Soon they’ll be recognized as well.
As for the creation process of my designs, I can talk about the contribution of interaction, inspiration, ergonomics, manufacturability, knowledge of materials, fashion and many other things. My biggest source of inspiration is nature. As I owe my designs to nature, I make products that are environmentally friendly and sensitive about natural resources. Therefore, I think that Turkish designers should be counted on and given opportunities. Because most civilization has spread out from Anatolia, we have in our genes inspiration from all these mosaics.
W.: How does the design process take shape? Do you take part in the architectural and interior design stages?
T.B: During the design stage, I make pencil sketches of the object that I’m using as my source of inspiration. Making these sketches is a spontaneous process. I always carry papers and pencils with me. Sometimes it can even be a napkin that I’m drawing on. When the sketches are developed to a certain point, it’s time to model them in 3d. I do these modeling and rendering tasks myself as well. When I’ve carried the modeling to a final stage as I had imagined it, then comes the “rendering” stage, which is when I polish the design. After the rendering, the design is ready to be presented to the Bien Marketing and Sales Department. I’m thankful as they’ve really liked all my designs so far. I participate in construction fairs and contribute to the architectural and interior designs for our presentations aimed at our vendors. I take part in arranging the space according to the designs we present.
W.: Bien has become one of the leading establishments in the world ceramics market, by exporting its products to 55 countries. Can you talk about the world trends and your position in the market?
T.B: In the old days, we used to follow the trends in the world; but now the world follows us with interest. It’s the designers who determine the domestic and international elements in the works and the visual quality of firms. The interest and the praises of the public and our competitors about the domestic designs at the Bien stall in Tüyap Unicera Fair –the largest fair arranged for the construction segment– are a very good example. This of course makes both Bien and me proud and happy.
W.: Do you create custom projects/designs for individuals/institutions?
T.B: Of course we do. Bien is a leading firm in digital technology. By the help of this technology we can make custom design implementations. Additionally we can apply gold, platinum and silver platings on our designs, on request.
W.: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
T.B: I will continue to work on new design projects. In addition to ceramic sanitaryware, I’ll be creating designs for armatures, bathroom furniture and bathtubs in support of bathroom designs. I will also continue on my attempt to make the world know about Turkish design. I have complete confidence in my young colleagues studying at design departments in Turkey. These people will soon be determining the world trends.