Just as the city of Istanbul sits famously astride the mouth of the Bosphorus, linking – in the imagination at least, if not in reality – East and West, so Istanbul Design Week is a tale of two parts. It’s great, of course, that there’s a vehicle to promote design in Turkey to an international audience, and Istanbul is a hugely vibrant and creative place, offering restaurants, clubs and other venues whose interior design is up there with anything you’d find in New York or London. But Istanbul was always a highly creative city, with an emphasis on an incredible and unique craftsmanship.
It’s just that Turkish designers have tended to be more modest than some of their international counterparts, so their talents haven’t, perhaps, been broadcast as loudly. While IDW has certainly worked hard to address this, it’s a task and a half to reflect the wealth of design activity that’s going on there. What certainly doesn’t help is an over-reliance on branded sponsorship of things that have little to do with design and a set of selection criteria for exhibitors less than strict. But the good thing about annual design weeks is that they are constantly changing and, more often than not, improving. And this year there were some great highlights, the Dutch Design Awards and Austrian Spirit among them. What’s more, the hospitality was great (as you’d expect). Architonic returned with some rather lovely new friends – yet another reason to go back in 2012.