High-end and bespoke furniture design brand Ahu has launched its inaugural collection at the 2021 London Design Festival.
Based in both London and Istanbul, Ahu produces custom and limited-edition collectible designs that are both functional and sculptural. Each piece is hand-made in Istanbul by master craftsmen in specialised, small ateliers using the highest quality materials and finishes.
Founded by long-time friends and Central Saint Martins alumni Eda Akaltun and Mevce Çıracı, the pieces combine works of graphic art with creative product and furniture design – inspired and informed by the art, craft, history and mysticism of the diverse cultures that have inhabited Asia Minor and by ikram, the Turkish tradition of offering guests tremendous hospitality.
The debut Meyhane collection is inspired by the evil eye (or Nazar in Turkish), and each piece is embellished by a marbling design, taken from the 15th Century technique of Ebru which originated in Turkey, Persia and India. Each work of art is developed by co-founder Eda Akaltun who uses a combination of handmade Ebru marbling technique with digital post-production to breathe a contemporary aesthetic into the crafted pieces.
Each piece in the debut collection, which includes a drinks cabinet, nesting tables and coffee tables, has a limited edition of 6-8 pieces, and Ahu can also create a completely new and bespoke commission for the buyer and collector, so they may have their own unique piece of furniture. Prices are available on request.
The cabinet has been created to highlight rare whiskies and spirits for the discerning collector. Separate sections and pieces of the cabinet are formed by various masters and then assembled into one piece, conveying distinct knowledge and techniques of each artisan. The solid mahogany body of the cabinet is machined from digital data and hand finished by a master carpenter, who then treats it with henna to achieve its special velvety touch. The artwork is applied on the panels using rare digital printing technology, and then hand lacquered to achieve its glass-like high gloss quality.
Istanbul has a rich history of craftsmanship and each Ahu piece is crafted in third generation artisan wood workshops scattered around the city. The founders work within a language of craftsmanship that is not only relevant to the place of Ahu’s origin, but also respectful of the longevity of the pieces. Mixing traditional woodworking techniques, opulent durable materials and stylish finishes, Ahu makes timeless pieces that can become modern heirlooms.
Co-founder Mevce Çıracı says, “We blend traditional craftsmanship with state-of-the-art design and fabrication technologies and value the use of raw materials and non-toxic surface finishes. The design of the cabinet complements the fluent nature of the graphic artwork and allows it to be perceived as three dimensional. The organic forms of the eye paintings determine the outlines of certain elements such as the handles and legs, transforming them into sculptural elements.”
Co-founder Eda Akaltun says, “Superstition is deeply entrenched in our culture. The vernacular tradition in Turkey, Greece and throughout Asia Minor of the evil eye bead as a protective talisman stretches back centuries and pervades everyday life. It is central to people’s lives, and a symbol that holds immense power and meaning. They are ubiquitous but have also become disposable and perhaps lost some of their deeper meaning. We wanted to take something which has been commoditised and elevate it into something unique and personal, reimagined in a contemporary way.”