TURQUERIE GONE CHIC: SERDAR GULGUN





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The Turkish Turkish fantasy created by Serdar Gülgün has been an assault on
A-Gent of Style‘s senses since he discovered the quintessential Renaissance man a few months ago through his latest book, celebratory press coverage and of course Instagram.

For those who are not familiar yet with this magician of interiors, Istanbul native Serdar Gülgün is a world-renowned interior designer, Ottoman art collector and expert, and an internationally acclaimed lecturer, historian, and author. And now one of A-Gent of Style‘s favrourite new designers. From his now well storied stunning 19th-century historic mansion on the Bosphorus to his collections of historical art to his books, The Grand Bazaar Istanbul and Ottoman Chic, Gülgün is known for his passion for bringing Turkish history to life. For those who have visited Istanbul in style, he is the man behind designing the A’Ya rooftop terrace at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet.





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Redolent of Turkish bazaars, his decors are replete with objets d’art and filled cabinet of curiosities as well as lavish touches of eccentricity. Original architecture and spectacular design elements intoxicates with a sublimely elegant kaleidoscope of pattern, colour and texture.

“To me, stylish interiors are like sensual beings that appeal to all the senses” opines Gülgün. “They are made up of many layers, colours, patterns, textures, fabrics, as well as beautiful music, exquisite scents, delicious food, pleasant words, and ultimately, gracious manners.” “I am a translator”, he adds. “I translate the old into the new. It is a process of recapturing the obscurities of the past and reinventing them in the light of the future”.

An Istanbulite and a devotee of Ottoman imperial culture, Gülgün has always been intrigued by the rare spectacles of the Ottoman court and dreams of the Old World. “I fell in love with this house when I first saw it in shambles. It took me many difficult years to restore it but I don’t regret it one second,” Serdar Gülgün says of his labour of love and most personal design masterpiece: his home, Macar Feyzullah Pasha Kosku which he oversaw the process of meticulously for seven-years to revitalise and return it to a state of elegance and splendour.


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Gülgün lets his imagination run wild with audacious-yet-sophisticated flourishes: intricately carved ceilings, spacious rooms, domed ceilings, frescoed walls, enormous Oushak carpets, sensuous brocaded upholstery, inlaid mother-of-pearl Syrian armoires to name but a few. His whimsical taste and flamboyant imagination effortlessly conjures glamorous, gem-encrusted art pieces, which are meticulously handcrafted in the original 15th century workshops of the Grand Bazaar. Infusing natural elements with centuries-old workmanship, each curiosity takes his followers on a new flight of fancy.

Standing at the crossroads of many cultures between West and East, the Ottoman style this sultan of chic excels at is also spiced with influences from Chinese and Indian to French and Italian, all of which are present in his enticing interiors. Constantly inspired by the atmosphere of his ancient city, Gülgün believes a successful interior design is a place of experience in which authentic elements of culture fuse and achieve alchemy, awakening all the senses and transporting its inhabitants to a place of fantasy.

 “The word ‘extravagant’ generally refers to something in excess and is related to flamboyance, which can easily turn inelegant, but Ottomans found a way to achieve an elegant extravagance,” explains Serdar Gülgün

 

You can follow Serdar on a short tour of his house (and marvel at his French)


 

Hopefully this will all be music to your ears too. But enough spiel for now, let the images speak for themselves…




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CRYSTALLISED: “ETERNAL” by DAMIEN HIRST with LALIQUE



 

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Lepidoptera. Like moths, butterflies are part of this animal order and symbolise transformation, metamorphosis and rebirth. Throughout the centuries, the brightly coloured winged insects with their conspicuous, fluttering flight and their enigmatic, fragile allure have been a popular motif in the visual and literary arts.

Damien Hirst, one of the UK’s most significant and recognised contemporary artists, has featured butterflies repeatedly in his work since the late 1980s as a symbol of both the beauty and fragility of life, thus making it one of his most distinctive and enduring representations.



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It therefore comes as no surprise that this year, world-renowned French crystal and glass manufacturer Lalique have collaborated with Hirst on a limited edition series of crystal panels representing the butterfly.

Lalique, with its 130-year heritage of craftsmanship and mastery of crystal, is exploring the modern possibilities of this form with exceptional talents, such as Hirst, whilst still preserving the iconic and timeless Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences embodied in René Lalique’s original Flora and Fauna pieces; the master was known to take pleasure from strolling in the country to observe the flight of insects.

Crystals being notoriously difficult to work with, these masterpieces once again demonstrate the boundless artistry of Lalique’s artisans who rose to the challenge of interpreting the artist’s vision, resulting in a visual tour de force showcasing a confluence of contemporary styles and traditional craftsmanship.


A-Gent of Style at the launch of Eternal, London February 2015

A-Gent of Style at the launch of Eternal, London February 2015


This exquisite collection, aptly coined ‘Eternal’, is available in three series – LoveHope and Beauty – each depicting a different butterfly in twelve colourways. As opposed to the more florid and multifarious specimens of his past work, Hirst’s monochromatic butterflies in this edition remain simple – even serene – in their depiction, only to be counterbalanced by the striking, colourful backgrounds of the panels. Each panel is numbered and comes with the artist’s signature engraved in the bottom right-hand corner, and a signed edition certificate.


Versatility is another appeal here; the rectangular-shaped panels can be displayed in numerous ways including mounted on an easel, framed and hung across a wall partition, or inset into a wall, the latter option offering the effect of stained-glass windows, which in turn give a quasi-religious dimension to Hirst’s work. “I love that the panels have an almost religious feel”, the artist explains. “They make you think of stained glass windows which I’ve always adored, it’s the way they manage to capture colour and light so completely and then throw it back out at you.” Whilst butterflies might look static and lifeless in art that verges on taxidermy, Hirst adds that “I’ve always loved that they look identical in life and in death, but when the light shines through these panels, it feels like they’re brought back to life in some way.”

 


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“I’ve always loved crystal”, continues the iconoclastic Englishman. “It’s both beautiful and difficult to work with, so I’m really excited about the project. It’s amazing being able to use all the expert craftsmanship and incredible history of Lalique for something new, and the results are beyond all my expectations”.


The Lalique store, London

The Lalique store, London, February 2015



Silvio Denz, Chairman and CEO of Lalique, states: “An artist of immeasurable talent and worldwide renown, Hirst perfectly embodies his generation of artists, unafraid to embark on experiments, calling into question the strict definitions of art and what constitutes a work of art. Eternal, the magnificent result of this collaboration, takes as its motif the butterfly – close to the hearts of René Lalique and Damien Hirst, who shared a sense of the magical and paradoxical beauty of the butterfly, ephemeral and eternal at the same time.”


The Lalique store, London

The Lalique store, London, February 2015



The collaboration was first unveiled at Lalique’s stand at Maison&Objet in Paris in January and at their Paris store shortly after (11 rue Royale, 75008).

The collaboration is now on show at Lalique’s London boutique (47 Conduit Street, W1S 2YP). For more information, please visit Lalique’s website.



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Lalique Interior Design Studio

Lalique Interior Design Studio



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Lalique Interior Design Studio.

Lalique Interior Design Studio



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– Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates, copyright Damien Hirst and Lalique 2015 –







KLC SCHOOL of DESIGN INTERVIEWS A-GENT of STYLE



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KLC, the prestigious London school of design, has now launched its own blog online and interviewed A-Gent of Style, an alumnus, a few weeks go to talk about his path and experiences since graduating from the school in 2009.


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Image above courtesy of Veere Grenney Associates, with whom Fabrice worked.



A-Gent of Style – better known to his friends as Fabrice Bana – is a London-based French interior designer, KLC Alumnus and all-round sultan of chic. He was back in school recently to speak with our Certificate students on their final day of the course and I was lucky enough to have a quick natter with him about life before and after studying with KLC.




Fabrice at an event with Lalique (February 2015)


So Fabrice, tell me what you were doing before you retrained with KLC?

My background is in linguistics. My first degree is in English and after moving from France to London in 1997, I did the PGCE (teacher training) in Modern Foreign Languages at Goldsmiths College and graduated as a secondary school teacher in 1999. I taught 11-18 years old in London comprehensive schools for 9 years, as well as being a private tutor, examiner and moderator for GCSEs and A-Levels, and also qualifying as an English-French translator.


Was there a ‘catalyst moment’ when you realised you wanted to change career to interior design?

In 2007, an acquaintance of mine, who was also a teacher, decided to go part-time to retrain at KLC, with a view to becoming an interior designer. At first I was pretty surprised and intrigued by this radical move, but it also sowed a seed in my mind. Since I had been living and teaching in London for almost 10 years and I was turning 30, I contemplated the idea of changing careers, as it felt as though I was at a pivotal point in my life. I was ready for the next challenge. I also knew I had a creative streak and that I wanted to tap into a new, unknown potential, away from my comfort zone in academia and teaching.

To this day, enrolling at KLC and pursuing my newly found passion for interior design despite the odds and challenges was one of the best decisions if my life. I hate getting stuck in a rut. Change is good.


Are you currently working on any projects?

Lately, there have been some exciting offers that I am currently considering and also there will be some new collaborations coming up this year for my blog A-Gent of Style – in particular, one with Lalique, the fine crystal jewellery and works of artI’m also an interior design business developer, introducer and ‘tastemaker’, as well as working at Redloh House Fabrics. There is possibly a decorating project for a new-built apartment looking onto The Thames.


Do you feel there are any elements of your previous career which helped you after your career change?

Discipline, integrity, perseverance, high standards, punctuality. A lot of diplomacy. And a sense of humour!



An online feature on Fabrice by Christies, after he was asked to curate two interiors sales (Summer 2014)


When and why did you decide to set up your blog A-Gent of Style?

In the last couple of years, I have been very much aware of and attuned with the growing importance, value and authority that some successful and inspiring blogs have these days – both as a new medium of communication and as an instant platform of exposure. I was very much inspired by a couple of American interior design bloggers who really ‘talked’ to me and who both have a strong, unique and interesting voice and stance within their writing; Mark D Sikes and The Peak of Chic by Jennifer Boles, who have both been very supportive and encouraging

Two years ago, a dear friend of mine suggested I created my own blog, and after some consideration, she helped me with the technical side of it whilst I worked on the aesthetics and content. Her encouragement (and patience!) has been invaluable and I am very much grateful to her. She was the catalyst for this eureka moment. With my inquisitive eye and finger on the pulse, I wanted to document my musings, express my interests, creativity and individualism, put the spotlight on what assaults my senses and lifts my spirits but also to chronicle my weekly adventures and occurrences as a ’social commentator’ in the design world.

With hindsight, I never thought A-Gent of Style would have, to a certain extent, become established and recognised. Some of the features and collaborations I have had with some of the people I highly value and respect in the industry have been terrific.


Give me an example of how you decide what to include in your blog?

It really varies. There is no rhyme or reason as to what makes it to the blog but unconditionally, it is something that I feel strongly about. Be it the content, impact, aesthetics or relevance – I wouldn’t publish a feature that I don’t believe in, or simply for the sake of a PR stunt. I also chose topics that my readership will hopefully like and appreciate!

Very often, I thrive on the fact that as a blogger, you are not controlled by the limitations of a printing deadline for instance, or having to file off three months in advance. You can feature anything almost immediately or a few days later – I can be a ‘man about town’, a blogger-at-large if you will! There is a certain thrill about being one of the few chosen ones, sometimes the only one, to report on a subject or be invited at a launch, event or preview and go home – or at times to one of my favourite bars, restaurants or hotels (as long as they have Wi-Fi!), write the article and be able to publish it before anyone else the following day.

You were recently chosen by Decorex to be a ‘trend spotter’ – what did this involve? Did you enjoy it?

I felt very honoured when Simone du Bois, the brand director, suggested to include a blog post from me on my thoughts and experiences of the show, as they had a special edition of their View newsletter going out which was focussing on the activity onsite at Decorex 2014.



Fabrice at Decorex, October 2014

The experience was a lot of fun, especially going around the stands and vignettes with my ‘eagle eye’ and thinking cap on. There were a lot of contenders to choose from and as I had total carte blanche as to what I wanted to include; only the most striking trends or most inspiring newbies made it to the final cut!  Even if I am more of a ‘trends fade, style lasts forever’ kind of person, going around the show looking out for the new crazes and tendencies was not just thrilling but also surprising at times, as well as being an eye-opener. When I mention during my lectures the new trends for the forthcoming year to the students at KLC, they categorically respond in a very positive, enthusiastic way. Trends inspire!

You can read more from A-Gent of Style on his website.

(Keep an eye out from more of him on the KLC Blog later on this year as well!)



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