In between Istanbul and London
Umut is an architect, telling his stories through kinetic sculptures. This year at Milan Design Week, we met at moooi's 2016 collection preview where Umut's Perch Light was on the show. We talked about his journey into design and interdisciplinary approach.
What is your bond with Istanbul?
I have complex emotional bonds with Istanbul and Turkey. I was born in London so I am English but I also identify as Turkish, but I am not English or Turkish enough to really identify as being one or the other! I have lots of family in Istanbul and we often visit every couple of years. Its an incredible city, so dynamic. I would love to explore more possibilities for work and life there at some point in the future.
This year at Milan Design week, you exhibited Perch Light installations at moooi’s unexpected welcome. How did you start this collaboration with moooi?
I first exhibited the handmade versions of the Perch Light in 2014 at Design Junction in London. There, I met Casper and he really liked them. This is how the collaboration with moooi started. Together with moooi, we were interested in developing the Perch Light into a family of pieces that retained the same unique qualities as the handmade version.
Did you make an interpretation of Perch Light for this exhibition?
There are new versions of the Perch Light for the moooi exhibition including the tree chandelier and branch version. They have been developed to become more of a family of lights. At the beginning, the first one’s I exhibited were like the seeds of the family.
You were trained as an architect. How did this journey into design start?
I studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture which is a very creative school where you are encouraged to pursue and develop your own interests. Most of my time was spent making objects and installations, exploring materials and how they can come together. I especially became interested in kinetic objects and their potential to describe a narrative using movement.
In the last years I didn’t design any buildings, instead I made kinetic installations. So for me, continuing to make responsive objects is quite a natural progression. I see architecture as a discipline which also includes design, objects and spaces. I’m interested in how the design of an object can feed into a detail of a space or building.
Talking about the movements, what is the mathematic behind the movements and forms of your objects?
With the movements I was interested in creating an object that was free to move but at the same time incorporated the functionality of a lamp. When something is balanced it becomes very responsive to touch. It is also responsive to the space, for example to a light breeze or an open window. I am really interested in the idea that an inanimate object can be animated and it comes alive. Maybe this originates from my architectural interests.
But your intention was to create a kinetic object in the first place. Then it turned out to be a lighting object…
Yes, that’s right. The project actually started as a kinetic sculpture which wasn't a lamp at all. The first studies were much more sculptural and then the lighting element was incorporated into it.
Every year we see a new line for furniture and lighting. What do you think of the current state of design?
I think its very exciting that so many people are striving to create something new. On a personal level I’m proud to be part of the moooi presentation this year and I hope we are bringing something new into the world, a unique piece.