Erin Turkoglu is based in Helsinki where she completed her masters at Aalto. The calm she found in the city providing a welcome contrast both to her native Istanbul and to New York where she previously studied.
In New York her studies in Industrial Design led to a craving for more hands-on, material work and this was what first drew her to Helsinki. Erin is a designer who samples, tests, makes; as little as possible is out-sourced. Life in New York made an impression that still filters through her work but now she has the space and calm for work and reflection: “New York is such an alive city but I think there is such a thing as too much inspiration and stimulation. One of the first things I said after moving to Helsinki was that I could finally hear my own thoughts.”
After New York Erin spent time back in Istanbul, finding and working with craftspeople - copper workers, metal spinners, ceramic artists, woodworkers. She travelled to Beykoz, an area dedicated to glasswork. Her desire to see craftspeople at work all over the world has influenced the designer she is today. Erin doesn’t feel her work belongs to any particular culture. Rather it is the trio of colour, texture and material that dominate her thinking, these provide the defining thread.
Read about Erin's process in Issue #001 of the ÅBEN Journal
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“Experimenting with materials myself, hands-on, I think that’s how you get the best results. Rather than just drawing and someone else making it, my way you find stuff you could never have thought of.”
“Minimalism is part of life in Finland. You are surrounded by it. It definitely affects my style, how with a little you can get such a lot. But I don’t shy away from crazy expression either, I’m about the balance of the two.”
Before arriving in Finland, Erin was already drawn to a Nordic palette, when she arrived in Helsinki everything clicked into place. “In Finland, when it’s cloudy all the time everything is muted, then bright colours really come out. When everything is covered in snow, you see soft textures and flashes of colours. In the summer – it’s an interplay of muted pastels and bright colours, that’s Nordic for me. Never too much of one thing.”
Both the architecture of the city and the nature that infiltrates the urban centre are a source of inspiration: “In Finland, nature is so prominent, even in the city. There are a lot of forests in the city and even giant granite rocks.” The variety of architecture in Helsinki has resulted in an extensive photographic collection of walls and doorways; subtle dashes of colour or texture constantly grab her attention. This focus on small details that trigger great pleasure is directly communicated in her work.
“Inspiration comes from visual feedback, especially in travel, I’m constantly taking pictures so I don’t forget”. It was sculpture that first introduced her to the deep pleasure of working with her hands, and how colours and textures work together to create a whole. “I make a lot of things that lie between functional and sculptural, a tea-pot for example. I don’t want it to be stored away. I want to make things people enjoy, even when
they aren’t using them.” Creating little pleasures in everyday objects is a preoccupation for Erin.