The Turkish natural stone associations have been doing everything right in their design competitions lately

Logo of the 2020 competition.

The right thing done by IMIB in 2020 was not to award a prize in the category of professional designers, but only honorable mentions

Turkey’s natural stone companies, together with their associations and supported by the government, have been making great efforts for several years to make product design a new outlet for the domestic – especially – marble, travertine and onyx. Objects for use in everyday life are the goal here, to be distinguished from art objects for decoration. We had recently praised the Izmir-based Aegean Association EIB for having precisely formulated requirements for submissions in its design competition, and that the results were promising. Now we must also praise the Istanbul-based nationwide IMIB (Istanbul Mineral Exporters’ Association) for its 2020 competition.

However, the praise here goes in a completely different direction: at the IMIB competition, namely, the jury really hit hard and awarded the lavishly endowed prizes only to students. In the category of professional designers there was no prize, but only 3 honorable mentions – and that out of 338 entries.

The association asked us to limit this report to the students’ work alone. To have introduced the upcoming creatives to the natural stones was success enough.

But we do not want to do that because what happened here is more important for the whole sector: such competitions only bring a benefit if real quality is awarded.

A bit of theory on this: Art must be accepted by the client, just as the artist makes it – that is one of the characteristics of art. With product design, on the other hand, it is the commissioner or, in the end, the consumer who decides what to make of an object.

Unfortunately, in the stone sector, art is usually produced when there is talk of (product) design. The companies and their associations urgently need to get out of this impasse.

1st prize, students: “Luna Piena“ (Full Moon) by Simay TOKUŞ: by playing with the brightness, the user can also play with the effect of the marble. A rail system with a ball in the lower part of the lamp is used to adjust the brightness. Partitions allow fixed settings.2nd prize, students: “Dizem“ by Sezin GEDİZ ÜN: In the wake of the Corona pandemic, new street furniture became necessary. Marble can withstand vandalism and weather. The shapes borrow from sculptures.3rd prize, students: “Işık Taşı“ by Batuhan SÜTBEYAZ: the candle holder offers surprises despite its minimal design. For example, the candle can be moved down or up with a magnet; in the upper part, the marble becomes thin and translucent.

Actually, the trouble about this year’s competition had been in the air for a long time. Back in 2015, the then IMIB president had called for sensible products at the awards ceremony, not any boozy ideas. After that, the results had arguably improved for a short time.

Now the IMIB jury, made up mostly of architects, designers and representatives of universities, and a minority of company representatives, has finally sent out a clear signal. It says: Product design must be usable and marketable – otherwise there is no prize.

One can only hope that other associations will follow this example.

Students, honorable mention: “Cevher“ by Yağız SOYSAL: Jewelry box of a different kind. You can choose stone types with different colors. The elements can be hung on the tree with strong magnets.Students, honorable mention: “Yalak“ by Tan NUHOĞLU and Saim Emircan DİNLER: the creation picks up the old idea of birdbaths in mosque walls. In the pavement of the city, it is stepped down and thus becomes a part of the neighborhood.

Product design is an incredibly important topic for the sector. Because: new kinds of everyday products would not only open up a new area of use for natural stone – by making the beauty of the material visible in households at all times, such objects would also be the best advertising measure there is.

Students, honorable mention: “Dalga“ by Mustafa Can Tözün ATMACA and Enes TOPLUGÜL: the good old radio and its speakers get a modern “face“ on a wooden shelf with the marble capsule.Students, honorable mention: “Just Turn“ by Elif YILDIZ and Suna DEMİRCİ: the large white marble slab is fitted with hemispheres that can be turned and then show their dark side.

In the student category, there had been a total of 261 entries this year, from 60 different universities. As usual, the prize money was impressive (even if they are not as lavish as they were a few years ago due to the decline of the currency):
1st prize: 15,000 Turkish lira, TRY (∼2000 US-$),
2nd prize: 10,000 liras (∼1300 US-$),
3rd prize 5000 lira (∼700 US-$).
In addition, there were 4 honorable mentions of 3,500 lira (∼450 US-$) each.

Not to forget: the winners of the first 3 prizes can apply for an overseas scholarship from the Ministry of Commerce.

The competition was held for the 9th time in 2020. It will be announced again in 2021.

Competition webpage (Turkish)

Jury members (Turkish)

Design professionals, honorable mention: “Tondo Light“ by Hadiye ÖZDEMİR: a 360 degree rotating lamp with solar cells for outdoor use. Marble combined with another natural material.Design professionals, honorable mention: “Fossilamp“ by İlker TORUK: A lamp for fans of dinos with rotating rings and a light effect that allows the animals to virtually disappear. The base made of terrazzo symbolizes the surface of the earth.Design professionals, honorable mention: “Pulse“ by Alican FAYDALI: an electric heater whose individual elements can be removed and placed elsewhere. As a reminder, in the past, people took to bed in the winter warmed stones.Design professionals, honorable mention: “F/8“ by Nihal KONAR NAŞ KARSAN: an outdoor sculpture whose shape is reminiscent of the lens of a camera. Is that nature observing people?The pirze winners: Simay TOKUŞ (left), Sezin GEDİZ ÜN.The prize winners: Batuhan SÜTBEYAZ (left), Yağız SOYSAL.

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(26.02.2021, USA: 02.26.2021)