Over 180 international buyers from 22 countries were recruited by COVER to attend Istanbul Carpet Week, 1-5 October 2017; one hundred more than last year. The swell in interest was reflected in the growth of the event itself, which once again was organised and sponsored by IHIB, the Istanbul Carpet Exporters’ Association, who aim to earn the concept of ‘Turkish Design’ the same worldwide repute as that of the ‘Turkish Carpet’.
Around sixty Turkish rug brands exhibited at Istanbul Rug Show held in a new larger venue over two days. All those we spoke with were pleased with the booth improvements, while some visitors suggested that a venue closer to the city centre would increase the show’s appeal even further. A mix of contemporary and transitional designs with a definite Turkish feel stood out from the classical rugs and kilims. Some attractive Bereket pieces were newly woven using vintage wool and vintage flatweaves with a contemporary look in hemp and recycled fabrics graced the stands of Gökkuşaği Hali Kılım and Woveny. Kirkit and Muna Home displayed fresh new products, drawing from Turkish traditions with a timeless abstract appeal. Upstairs, a live demonstration of silk thread extraction by Umurbey Silk Production & Design Center promoted the revival of sericulture in Bursa.
Alongside the trade show, a number of events bolstered the buying opportunities: The Istanbul International Carpet Conference delivered a pleasing mix of topical speakers from the US, UK and Turkey: Hüseyin Alantar, Günay Atalayer and Louise Broadhurst focused respectively on the symbolism, structure and performance at auction of antique Turkish carpets; Matthew Bourne, a director at Christopher Farr, presented the company’s portfolio of artist-designed carpets; and Alix G. Perrachon showed a series of US interior design projects with bold rug use.
The dazzling 11th National Carpet Design Contest Gala Awards Ceremony received much attention from the national press. The eight finalists’ rugs were judged alongside creative samples that clearly demonstrated a talent for forward thinking design. The popularity of Erbil Tezcan’s rug design workshop for young designers this year suggests there will be plenty of future talent too. Zeynep Gürbüz’s dual textured, coral-inspired piece won the 2017 title. The award for best social project went to Ravdet Ercik—the driven woman behind the ‘Women’s Education, Culture, Social Assistance and Solidarity Association’ set up to improve the quality of life in Tatvan, eastern Turkey. Despite being formed only a year ago, the association, which provides women with training in a craft trade, already has 10,000 members and among them 150 weavers.
The final day was thoughtfully left free, so that visiting buyers could browse the city’s carpet shops and close deals with contacts from the fair. Two important exhibition openings at the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (TIEM) by the Hippodrome rounded off proceedings on the evening of 4 October. The free, temporary exhibition: ‘Kum Kapı rugs from the Arkas Collection’ showcased thirty-two fine silk masterpieces woven between the 16th and 20th centuries, and the impressive redisplay of the museum’s permanent collection of 15th-17th century Ottoman carpets caused quite a stir, most notably amongst those more usually at home in the realm of contemporary carpet design.
IHIB must be applauded for the creation of such an inviting programme which openheartedly welcomes those who share an appreciation of carpets and a desire for the continuation of their creation; as well as leading by example—proactively supporting and encouraging the brands and weavers that they serve.