atlas: Translating Mesopotamian cultural heritage to our times

atlas design collection; translating Mesopotamian knowledge and aesthetics to our times with a product and textile line.

Within the curatorship of Dilek Öztürk and Bilgen Coşkun, founders of, atlas aims to integrate global design discussion with social aspects as well as sustainable design economy.

Video: GPOD Production

atlas design collection is curated by Bilgen Coşkun and Dilek Öztürk, founders of IN-BETWEEN Design Platform, designed by Aslı Smith, Barış Gün, Begüm Cana Özgür, DAY Studio, INCOMPLIT and Şule Koç who are based in Istanbul, Turkey. The project is managed under the directorship of Ömer Faruk Çelik, District Governor of Harran, and realized with ADEM (Family Support Centre) within the Governorship of Harran, dedicated to support women empowerment and encouraging women to take an active role in the social life and thus creating a social change.

atlas is based on a social responsibility model supporting the local and Syrian women living in Harran to generate their economic independence by being at the core of the production process at the felt, wood, weaving and ceramic ateliers developed in ADEM (Family Support Centre) within the Governorship of Harran, Turkey. atlas aims to integrate the social awareness and sustainable design economy with the rising values in the global design scene. Thus the collection is translating Mesopotamian cultural heritage and aesthetics to our times.

Multi-layered civilizations around Harran and Mesopotamian culture, dating back to 8.000 years which are known for their contribution in the fields of architecture, astronomy, mathematics, geometry, belief systems with its sophisticated societal interactions created through daily life rituals, were taken as references in this project. In the scope of atlas, designers Aslı Smith, Barış Gün, Begüm Cana Özgür, DAY Studio, INCOMPLIT and Şule Koç translated these references into a collection addressing today’s language.

Cultural and historical heritage of Harran.

Process of the collection

atlas design collection is developed with a democratic approach bringing a diverse group of professionals together to open discussions and set the project framework collectively. This is why a commission was put together including academics and other professionals from design, archaeology and creative entrepreneurship who are Ömer Faruk Çelik, District Governor of Harran, Asst.Prof. Veli Şafak Uysal, Vice Dean of Istanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Architecture and Archeologist Prof.Dr. Mehmet Önal.

In the scope of the project, six designers were selected by the curators who are Aslı Smith, Barış Gün, Begüm Cana Özgür, Doğanberk Erdemir and Yeşim Eröktem of DAY Studio, Şule Koç and Öykü Özgencil of Incomplit. The curatorial and designer team worked on the project between September 2017 and September 2018, starting with the site visits and researches in Harran. The curators went through a research process and defined the design values, design criteria and production criteria. Following this, the process was evolved with the designers; design and production follow ups, meetings, juries and presentations.

The methodology is based on generating a know-how to translate the historical and cultural references to a contemporary design language addressing the ways of urban living styles of today.

Concept of the collection

The standing point of atlas collection is based on taking unique references from the sophisticated culture, aesthetic and knowledge of Mesopotamia through ages.

The collection is translated into a product line which can be integrated to a contemporary living concept. The collection aims to create a dialogue between the global design scene and a region full of design references.

Social aspect of the collection

The social responsibility aspect of the project was built on a model supporting the local and refugee women living in Harran to generate their economic independence by being at the core of the production process in the workshops built in Harran as a part of ADEM (Family Support Centre) within the Governorship of Harran, Turkey. These women will make their living with being involved in the sales revenues. In order to make this sustainable, one of the main criteria in developing this project was that the whole collection should be able to produced in these particular workshops and address the current consumer habits.


Aslı Smith, Heliotropic Studio

Aslı Smith designed a collection of felt rug and wall hangings inspired by symbols and patterns of Mesopotamian culture in Harran. The Stars and Fortune Rug tells of the might of the celestial god sin Mesopotamian paganism and their interaction with earth. The Moon and Wisdom Rug, inspired by the Moon God Sin, symbolizes birth, rebirth and infinite wisdom. The Sun and Prosperity Rug is about the all-powerful and creative celestial god the Sun and his cosmic prosperity. Terra wall hanging is referring to Mesopotamian astral and architectural symbols. Strata, meaning layers, is referring to Mesopotamian astral and architectural symbols. Astra, meaning stars, is referring to Mesopotamian astral and architectural symbols.

Barış Gün, barbo//work+shop

Barış Gün designed a serving set titled as ‘H-Cut’ which is inspired by the multi-layered geography and culture of Harran. H-Cut is taking its reference from the archeological richness of Harran. The reason why Barış Gün chose wood as a material is that wood needs special protection and care like Harran’s core.

Begüm Cana Özgür

The designer focused on design processes referring to the transformative power of design, in which people from different age groups can work without any special training.

Begüm Cana Özgür designed a room separator titled ad ‘Harmala’ which is composed of felt balls. As a reflection of Pagan culture, people of Harran believe in the power of harmala seeds to clean the energy of places and protect people against negative energy. The felt room separator taking its reference from the stringed harmala seeds, is reinventing this symbol of belief in a room scale. The product assembled with the hand rolled felt balls, was designed with an understanding to involve anyone who is willing to be a part of the production process.

Begüm Cana Özgür also designed a three-piece wall textiles collection inspired by the planetary culture in Harran. The moon god, Sin, is at the top of the Pantheon, with his son Shamash and daughter Venus which were woven handcrafted in wooden frames.

DAY Studio

DAY Studio founded by Doğanberk Demir and Yeşim Eröktem, developed an approach taking the scientific and architectural knowledge as well as the ancient artisanal culture of Harran dating back to 8000 years and merging these with the recent production techniques such as 3D modelling and 3D printing.

DAY Studio, designed a set of tableware for the atlas collection which they named as ‘Eclipse’ by taking the work carried out on geometry and astronomy in Harran and the way that these were applied to the field of architecture. Using the phases of a lunar eclipse as foundation, Eclipse makes an attempt to portray the multi-cultural nature of the region through colors.

The second set of products designed by DAY Studio is called ‘Mırra’ which is composed of coffee cups in 3 different sizes and colors. These are taking the architectural form of Kumbet Houses of Harran as reference.

Öykü Özgencil, INCOMPLIT

Öykü Özgencil, took astronomy works that the people of Harran carried out, as references for the bag she designed for atlas collection. Today, the people of Harran have very close ties with the land, therefore the bag she designed creates a link between the Earth and the sky. The women in the Harran container town and the ADEM (Family Support Centre) produce the bags together.

Şule Koç

Şule Koç designed a ritual set for wellbeing called 'Sogmatar', inspired by the multi-layered structure of Harran created by various civilizations. Every layer is presented in a different shape which offers a flexible and playful way of organising the table surface.