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

This 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.

Multi-layered civilizations around Harran and Mesopotamian culture date back to 8.000 years which is known for its contribution in the fields on 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 shop 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 langauge.

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, Archeologist Prof.Dr. Mehmet Önal and Asuman Yazmacı, Founder of Şanlıurfa Entrepreneur Women Association.

In the scope of the project, six product and textile 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 March 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 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.

All the products are being manifactured in ADEM (Family Support Centre) by local and Syrian women living in Harran.

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.

In the curatorship of in-between 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. 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


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 godsin 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.

Barış Gün, barbo//work+shop


Barış Gün, designed a serving set she named as ‘H-Cut’ which is inspired by the multi-layered geography and culture of Harran and it is taking the archeological richness of Harran as reference. 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

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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 which is composed of felt balls. As a reflection of Pagan culture, people of Harran believe in the power of harmal seeds to clean the energy of places and protect people against negative energy.

The felt room separator taking its reference from the stringed harmal 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 in 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 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 modeling 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 reference for the bag she designed for atlas collection. Today, the people of Harran have very close ties with the land, therefore the bag that she designed creates a link between the Earth and the sky. The women in the Harran container town and family support centers produce the bags together.



atlas is exhibited at Milan Design Week