Open call: Designers and creatives of all kind – join with your contemporary reinterpretations of ancient Anatolian crafts

Open call

6. december 2021

Anatolia, the vast region spanning most of mainland Turkey, was once home to ancient civilizations; today, its craftspeople still carry expert knowledge, which is passed from generation to generation, but is being increasingly forgotten.

To revitalise these ancient skill sets, the project From Anatolian Crafts to Contemporary Design is introducing five very different crafts – quilting, inlaying, ceramics, felt making, and stone carving – and inviting designers to create their own contemporary reinterpretations.

Turkey Design Council along with project partners Brumen Foundation and the Traditional Arts Association are inviting designers and creatives of all kind, both students and professionals, from all across the European Union to get to know five very different Anatolian crafts and reinterpret one (or more) of them for a contemporary audience.

10 authors of the selected design proposals will be invited to Turkey (all expenses covered + monetary compensation) to join the craftspeople in their workshops and co-produce product prototypes, which will then be exhibited in Istanbul and promoted throughout the EU and Turkey.

Deadline for applications are extended to 31 January 2022.

The five Anatolian crafts

Felt Making

The city of Konya in Central Anatolia is famed for its whirling dervishes; it is also home to craftsman Mehmet Girgiç and his son Salih Girgiç, who specialise in felt making, producing both 2D and 3D objects. The latter, incidentally, include the hats of those very same dervishes. Felt making starts with wool of various colours which is then matted through the use of heat, humidity, and pressure, using soap and oil to help speed up the process.

Learn more about the craft through the short documentary here.

Read further about felt making and the craft for the open call here.


Craftsman Hüsamettin Yivlik works in his workshop in Istanbul, where he specialises in mother-of-pearl inlay. He starts by carefully selecting a piece of wood, creating a pattern for his design, then carving an indentation in which the inlay will lie. With filigree precision, he then cuts the mother of pearl in an intricate pattern, fills the indentation with putty and presses it together, so the two pieces merge. After finishing the details and polishing the wood, the decorative mirror is completed.

Learn more about the craft trough the short documentary here.

Read further about inlaying and the craft for the open call here.

Iznik Style Ceramics

Iznik style ceramics are named after a settlement in Anatolia, and have been produced for centuries, with the knowledge being passed from masters to their apprentices. Alper Ergüler, whose workshop is in Kütahya, another regional ceramics centre in Anatolia, produces intricate ceramics: He prepares the quartz mud which he throws on the potter’s wheel, dries and sands, then fires in the kiln. He then applies slip coating, fires it in the kiln again, and only then begins the process of painting: he carefully transfers the pattern onto the vase, outlines the traces and finishes the design. The vase is then ready for final glazing, and after another firing, it is ready to be used.

Learn more about the craft through the short documentary here.

Read further about Iznik style ceramics and the craft for the open call here.


Craftsmen Hikmet Çavuş and Şadan Deniz produce quilts, a type of filled bed cover, that was once a treasured addition to any dowry. To produce these colourful satin quilts, they first cut the fabric, then the lining, and sew them together. Then come the patterns: the fabric pinned safely to the floor, the selected outline is drawn in chalk. The filling, usually wool or cotton, is fluffed and placed in the quilt, which is then sewn shut, laid out on the floor and beaten with a stick to mat down evenly. Finally, the pattern of the quilt is hand-sewn, and the quilt is completed.

Learn more about the craft through the short documentary here.

Read further about quilting and the craft for the open call here.

Stone Carving

Stone carving was incredibly widespread in Anatolian-Turkish art and architecture, with intricate patterns stepping in to add ornament in a culture that seldom used personal depictions. Halil Evcan works in Istanbul, and has taken part in a series of important restoration projects. When starting from scratch, he first picks an appropriate piece of stone, tracks a pattern using carbon paper, then, slowly and carefully, chips away at the negative space surrounding the pattern using hammer and chisel.

Learn more about the craft through the short documentary here.

Read further about stone carving and the craft for the open call here.


Application deadline (extended):
31 January 2022 at 23:59 (CET)

Open call result publication:
First week of February 2022

Co-production process in Turkey (five days total):
Between 14 February and 29 April 2022

Exhibition in Instanbul:
May 2022

What is in it for the 10 selected designers and creatives?

  • 5-day trip to Turkey, all expenses covered (travel, accommodation, living expenses)
  • Monetary compensation:
    750 EUR for students
    1500 EUR for professionals
  • Production of two design prototypes:
    One for the exhibition in Istanbul
    One for the designer
  • Exhibition of your work in Istanbul
  • Professional photographs of your finished prototype
  • Wide promotion of the selected designers

Who can take part?

All various kinds of creatives, students and professionals, teams and individuals are welcome to apply.

The project is looking for creatives that are passionate about handcrafted products, who feel they have a story to tell with their design proposals, and would like to work closely with experienced master craftspeople in transforming their designs into tangible prototypes.

Participants must be at least 18 years old at the time of application, have residency in the EU or an EU member state (excluding Turkey), and must be able to travel for five days in the period between 14 February and 29 April 2022 (COVID-19 restrictions permitting).

Participants can choose between two categories:

One proposal from each category will be selected for each craft: One from the Professional category and one from the Student category.

An individual design proposal can only be entered in one category (Professional or Student). Design proposals entered into both categories will be disqualified.

Applicants may enter an unlimited number of individual proposals: Either for the same craft or a number of different crafts (even all five). However, each design proposal must be submitted separately.

To ensure the fairness of judgement, the design proposal and portfolio must not be personally identifiable (name, surname).

Read further about the two categories, open call-criteria and guidelines for the presentation of your design proposal here.

Jury members and selection process

The jury members will evaluate all design proposals and select 10 winning submissions, one professional and one student entry per each craft.

The selection process will be anonymous.

Read further about the jury members here.

From Ancient Anatolian Crafts to Contemporary Designs

From Ancient Anatolian Crafts to Contemporary Designs European Union project is supported under the “Grant Scheme for Common Cultural Heritage: Preservation and Dialogue between Turkey and the EU–II (CCH-II)” implemented by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism with the financial support of the European Union.

The “Grant Scheme for Common Cultural Heritage: Preservation and Dialogue between Turkey and the EU–II (CCH-II)” aims at promotion and enhancement of common cultural heritage activities implemented in partnership between Turkish and EU organizations.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is responsible institution for the technical implementation of the Grant scheme Programme, while the Central Finance and Contracts Unit is the Contracting Authority.