The Industrial Designers Society of Turkey (ETMK) announced its digital museum project at the opening of a design exhibition on June 13, titled “Stories of Production and Consumption from Crafts to Industrial Design: Industrial Design in Beyoglu from the 19th Century to today.” The exhibition focuses on the history of local industrial design, specifically examining manufacturers, supported by the municipality, who began their businesses in Beyoğlu district in the late 19th century.
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, the new museum’s director, Burçak Madran, said the society had been dreaming of making a design museum since the 1990s in order to form an “industrial design memory.”
“However, due to the lack of a comprehensive collection, it was difficult. Corporate collections only focus on the company products. There are private collectors as well, but they tend to collect items only relating to their personal stories. In the end, making a collection that covers the whole history of Turkish industrial design was a lot more difficult than we thought it would be.”
The pieces in the exhibition reveal the history of local
industrial design in Beyoğlu district in 19th century.
Madran said the origins of Turkish design dated back to the era of Ottoman modernization. “In 1830, mass production was introduced to the Ottoman state with facilities in the Feshane neighborhood in Istanbul. In 1843, a rug factory was also established in Hereke.”
The society’s intention is to collect all items marking this history of almost two centuries, to be displayed in a real museum in the future.
“We started with the idea of founding a real museum. When we applied for funds from the Istanbul Development Agency, the establishment of an industrial design museum was among the project proposals we submitted. We allocated a certain amount out of the agency’s funds for research on forming the infrastructure of the museum. But we had to present a finished product before the end of our grants contract, meaning within one year. But you cannot make a museum in only one year, so we decided to start with a digital museum.”
The easiest part in collecting data about Turkish industrial design history was to find information about post-1990’s Turkey. This is because the ETMK, founded in 1994, catalogued every Turkish industrial design item once it started its activities.
“If it had not been for our own archive, we would have been lost,” Madran said, adding that they had digitally catalogued everything they found in the ETMK archive.
“Of the 1000 digital display items in our digital archive, only 30 are from our collection. But we know whose hands the remaining items are in. We have made an inventory of them and we have started to make an inventory of the items belonging to earlier eras,” he said. The museum also presents a database on Turkey’s industrialization process, listing the series of important events in chronological order.
“In the meantime we have established an industrial design library at our Istanbul branch. The library facilitates study rooms and although we are not lending books, industrial design students are welcome to use our library without any subscription fee,” Madran said.
The museum is available to view at www.etsm.org.tr.