Özlem Tuna’s fleck in the air: Zerre

She had worked as a jewelry designer in various companies for years, then became their advisor… In 2003 she has opened her own design office”Özlem Tuna.” Currently, under her own brand name,Özlem Tuna Design, she is designing and producing“body ornaments” as she calls them, and desktop objects. She is selling her own collections in various domestic and overseas points. To support those that follow in her footsteps and to grow together in a cooperative environment, she founded Zerre Design online shop.

You can find our interview that took place in their new office in Büyük Yeni Han, which was built in 1764, below.


What motivatesÖzlem Tuna?

I’m constantly searching. Searching for‘what do I want,’ finding new ways is very pleasant. Also my location affects me profoundly. Designing in a location that has a lifespan of more than 300 years adds a very different mood to a person. Of course there are good parts and bad parts. I noticed that in my old store I was too divided. Currently I began to create an environment where I can concentrate more on myself and my new projects.


How was life in Han years ago, how is it now?

Büyük Yeni Han was built as an inn in 1764– a place where people worked, lived, produced for years – just like shopping malls of our times. After the 1st World War, it turned into an active police station used by the English. Then production began again. It is the only inn with two courtyards in this area. A product can enter from the inn’s door and leave with all of its processes completed. To me, the noises of this location sound like a different percussion.


What’s feedingÖzlem Tuna?

The books I read, civilizations that lived on this ground; my nutrients are always effective. I think that since my move to Han I got closer to myself and began to change my point of view. I prefer to integrate the old and the new, with an extract from our culture, to daily life products and body ornaments. I will keep on designing with this approach and I’m sure the locations that I’m in will always affect me profoundly.


A professional life that began and continued in the historic peninsula; how does this affect you?

I worked with jewelers for years and then I launched my own firm. I was always in the historic peninsula. I was surrounded with craftsmen. If I were to begin my work in Ankara and kept on working there, obviously what affected me would be different. The production potential in my surroundings affected my choices for sure.

Sometimes, craftsmen’s usage and production techniques produce a dominant expression in my products; sometimes I try to break free of this. I search for an approach that looks both traditional and contemporary. And you can do this by combining different materials. After all, the production possibilities in the historic peninsula are very clear; metal is worked. With gold, silver workmanship you get jewellery; with copper, brass workmanship you get house decorations… I search for ways to add new ones to these materials and use production techniques like inlaying and openwork in my new designs.


You turn the craftsmen’s talents into products with high added value…

I’m striving to create a usable, livable and sustainable cooperation… I’m working for craftsmen in my surroundings and accordingly myself to earn money. While my new designs create job opportunities for them, I get value for myself from usage of their talents. I care about cooperation and do everything in my power to sustain them.

Do you have production troubles?

Except for the stones in my jewels (because of technological shortcomings in Turkey), everything is produced in Turkey. I have problems with boutique porcelain production, but I don’t search for producers overseas. If it’s not produced in Turkey, that’s the way it will stay, it will not be produced ever again.


Özlem Tuna founded Zerre Design to continue, to increase the level of cooperation with new designers. Where does the name come from and what does it bring us?

Zerre Design is a new brand that will contain the products ofÖzlem Tunabrand and designers that are or will be in my team. Producing and selling a work of a member of my team and supporting new designers were important in positioning and strategy of the brand. If we are to talk about the meaning, zerre (speck) means a mote, a seed in the air; it means atom in philosophy. I think design itself is brought into life from a tiny idea, a seed in the air.


What’s next?

We want to cooperate with designers for Zerre, and currently we give opportunities to works of entrepreneur designers in our online store. We choose the products on the website carefully and wish to continue providing our users with enjoyable shopping experience.

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