“I am a translator. 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” explains Serdar Gülgün of the force driving his passion and unique aesthetic for the last 25 years.
A native of Istanbul, Gülgün is a classically trained Ottoman art expert, sought after interior designer and acclaimed author. Whether passionately lecturing on Ottoman art history at the British Museum or crafting a timeless objet d'art, this renaissance man is always in his element.
Gülgün's whimsical imagination and insatiable passion for Ottoman art blossomed in childhood in Istanbul. The city's exotic blend of textures, colors and flavors of bygone eras had a profound impact on the young creative. Today, the majestic relics of the ancient melting pot remain his playground and infinite source instead of inspiration.
Although Serdar Gülgün's genuine modesty would keep him from disclosing his full credentials, there is a lot to be said for a designer as highly accomplished and versatile as he is. The world's most prestigious brands continually seek out his expertise and aesthetic. As a coveted interior designer, Gülgün has decorated heritage buildings around the world and the homes of Istanbul's most prestigious residents.
Throughout his life Gülgün has collected a personal treasure trove of Ottoman art and antiquities. His priceless courtly pieces have been featured in six exclusive exhibitions held at the Imperial Topkapı Palace. The antiques have also inspired his original designs. Gülgün's contemporary twists on rich classics including his beloved turtles, which perfectly embody his luxurious, idiosyncratic style.
WHAT WERE YOUR INSPIRATIONS WHEN CREATING THESE PIECES FOR TRUDON?
I wanted to highlight the Trudon candles while paying tribute to the fantastic past of the house. Curiosity cabinets in which nature was systematically glorified inspire me tremendously. In this collection for Trudon, turtles, dolphins and shells are shaped and presented like jewels. I adore the combination of luxurious materials with shapes from the natural realm. Also I am a turtle lover. During the Ottoman period and during receptions, turtles carried candles on their backs and roamed the tulip gardens of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, under guests’ amazed gaze. Dolphins and newts are a recurring motif in French art during the 17th and 18th centuries. They have a royal connotation and are also reminiscent of Versailles. I love playing with natural shapes, taking them out of their expected context and giving them a glamorous twist with bronze and cabochons. I love the contrast between nature and opulent luxury, like a nod to an era from the Renaissance to the 14th century, when idealized natural shapes adorned palaces and places of power.
WHAT ARE THE PECULIARITIES OF TURKISH CRAFTSMANSHIP?
In Istanbul’s old city, especially in the Grand Bazaar, there are still workshops which have preserved old craftmanship techniques, especially regarding metalwork. Everything is done by hand with precision and passion. These artisans are like alchemists or old philosophers who live in a bubble where time stood still a long time ago. In these workshops you enter another world, a world where knowledge has been accumulated for centuries, from Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire to present-day Turkey.