I’ve been admiring Tayfun Mumcu’s furniture ever since I first laid eyes on a delicate maroon side table of his in a fashion boutique. I was aware of his background as an architect and designer, but was genuinely blown away by the sheer variety of designs he has created as I enter his new gallery, conveniently located on the intersection of Nişantaşı’s three main streets.
It is not always easy being an architect in a city noted for lacking a cultivated architectural tradition. Modernization caught Istanbul so off guard that the tranquil city of lovely wooden Ottoman mansions became a delirious maze of concrete jungle in just a few decades into the 20th century. Tayfun Mumcu gives the jungle some much-needed breathing room through the lush living spaces he designs.
Mumcu’s showroom perched on the first floor of the building above his gallery is a perfect example of a cool-classic, downtown apartment reflecting an old world sophistication that arises from an effortless mix of eras and styles. A delicate replica of a diminutive mid-century dinner table chair contrasts with a bulky, modern sofa in cheerful orange and silky beige cushions. A gloomy Cubist painting is complemented by a sombre piece of contemporary photography. The light fixtures and side tables and other accessories of his design tell stories of times both long gone and of the present, which is the key to understanding Mumcu’s understated style. “Creating replicas is not as bad as it sounds. It is in fact similar to translating novels. You can translate a novel that was already translated a hundred years ago and your translation will be different,” remarks the designer.
When Mumcu set out 20 years ago to create tasteful environments that are fashionable and yet not eclipsed by ethnic influences, he and his clients found it hard to locate equally refined accessories to accompany the furniture. So he took it upon himself to design a selection of home decor items and exhibit them in a gallery.
The gallery boasts a variety of objects, from sumptuous velvet pouffes to onyx marble trays, from wooden lacquered gifts boxes topped with semi-precious natural stones to silver frog statues. “I like strange animals around the house,” he says showing me a stone plate surrounded by a silvery snake. Peacocks adorn other tableware and his best -selling glassware features the spiky branches of a dead tree. However, far from being morbid, these pieces add an uncanny humour to your home.
And now Mumcu recently embarked on a jewellery line as well. Approached by a prominent jewellery family in Beirut, he created a first collection for them before moving on to design for himself. The clear-cut lines of Mumcu’s rings and the subdued hues of the diamonds on his necklaces are an obvious continuation of his cool-classic personality.
Tayfun Mumcu Galeri: Maçka Cad. Ralli Apt. 37/2, Teşvikiye, Istanbul, Tel: + 90 212 296 9071, www.tayfunmumcu.com