Turkish media and design entrepreneur Murat Patavi forges a visionary path in Istanbul's bourgeoning contemporary art and design scene.
Hailed as Turkey's most influential media executive, Patavi is revolutionizing Istanbul's burgeoning art and design scene. In 2004 the founder of Istanbul-based advertising agency Republica blazed a design trail with the country's first design-oriented lifestyle magazine THI3TY FOU4. Two years later Haaz was born - the city's premier design gallery, promoting contemporary design. Last year Patavi presented the company's first major exhibition, Block, a collection of single edition works produced in Turkish marble, designed by a world-class ensemble of both Turkish and international design stars, including Michael Young, Matali Crasset, Marcio Kagan, Paola Navone, Aziz Sariyer, Defne Koz and Jason Miller. Patavi discusses design, art and what Western style means to Istanbul's emerging generation of zealots of contemporary creativity.
As the founder of a highly successful advertising agency, publisher of Turkey's first design publication and owner of Turkey's leading design gallery, how did your career begin?
I studied graphic design in san Francisco, I've been very interested since the beginning of my career, so I went to study graphic design later, then came back.
Republika, Haaz and THI3TY FOU4 is an extension of my lifestyle, it's what I'm interested in. It started with the agency, then followed by THI3TY FOU4, which was the first modern lifestyle magazine from Turkey. We used our graphic design site to create THI3TY FOU4. The magazine introduced us to the design world basically. It's been three years now. I feel that we deal with design and design content very well with THI3TY FOU4 and now with Haaz gallery.
Did THI3TY FOU4 inspire Haaz gallery?
Yes. After 3 years of working on THI3TY FOU4, we began to get more into design with THI3TY FOU4's help. We know a lot of designers and are familiar with a lot of design related stuff around the world and it gives us an inroad to design. Each project has followed each other naturally, so it's been very organic. We didn't plan any of this before hand. We also have a showroom, but the other part is of course the design and art gallery. On the art side, Block is our first big exhibition.
How do you choose the designers featured in the gallery?
It's a kind of curatorial collection, Primarily they are all very established designers from all around the world. Basically there was no design culture here in turkey, THI3TY FOU4 was a pioneer in this respect, and with Haaz and with its selection the idea was to introduce high quality and high calibre design to Turkey and to Turkish culture, so this was another milestone in that sense.
How has Haaz been received in Istanbul?
At first it was kind of difficult for Turkish people to understand and get used to the gallery. It basically takes time because there is a manner that Turkish people have been living with, there's the tradition. The things that we represent do not exactly match the traditional way of living. With time people will get used to it, particularly the younger generation. Turkish people easily acquaint themselves with things. It's been a year and the Turkish culture has progressed a lot. In just one year we've witnessed rapid changes.
What are your future plans?
Another Haaz store is coming this year, it will be opening in Istanbul's new hip area, just next door to the new W Hotel. This will be the city's new fashion and design district, like a little Soho. It will be a smaller store, and more about lifestyle, it will be a concept store featuring design, fashion, art and style. For this store we may collaborate with Autoban.
Who are your favourite designers?
I love the Campanas for their intimacy, which is important for me. Marten Baas is also very young and promising. I go to design and art fairs to look around and things just touch me. It's not so much names, but certain objects that excite me, like a John Baldassari.
What are your favourite art and design objects?
A have a Lichtenstein, it's more art but I love it. I also have a Baldassari and a young artist from New York called Lieberman, who has the same feeling as andy Warhol, although, of course, I would love a Warhol! I have boxes with a collection of limited edition copies of Interview magazine. Design-wise I am the first design collector in Turkey. I have pieces from Marten Baas, the Campanas, Philippe Starck... I'm also a big book collector, I love collecting design books. We have a big design library in the office and also at home. It's a very good source, not only for me but for the agency.
Who are Turkey's design stars and future big names?
Aziz Seryat is very important and has been for many years. Autoban are new but they have grown very fast. Defne Koz is also very important. Alper Böler, who showed at this year's Zona Tortona in Milan, he is also very good.
Do you intend to produce pieces under the Haaz brand, like Gaia & Gino?
No, we won't carry out production as Haaz Gallery because we already represent many producers and high end products, but I would really like to open my own design museum!
Murat Patavi's definition of luxury:
Being able to do what I want to do.
If luxury were
Lying in bed, watching tv – well, actually it's more like looking at tv rather than watching it. It helps me to relax.